While many of his peers were settling into careers and family life, Agustine Kibet Maritim of Masare village in Bomet County chose a different path - to rewrite his education story.
A 33-year-old hawker and father of one, Maritim made the bold decision to re-enrol in school, setting in motion a moving tale of second chances and relentless ambition.
A Form Four leaver who sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) 13 years ago, Maritim returned to primary school earlier this year to flip over the D+ he achieved in his KCSE examination.
To realise his dream of becoming a lawyer, he re-enrolled in primary school and sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 2023, scoring 350 marks.
Maritim’s commitment began in 2005 after his KCPE exams at Merigi Primary School in Bomet East Constituency, managing 278 marks.
However, financial hardship forced him to drop out of Olbutyo Secondary School in Form Two. Undeterred, he enrolled at Kyogong Secondary School.
“I had been studying privately at home for over a year when I sought a vacancy at Kyogong Secondary School as a form three student in the second term. I passed the entry exam and made extra effort as a student. But I only managed a grade D+ in the 2009 KCSE exams,” Mr Maritim told Nation.Africa.
Dissatisfied with the results and his dreams temporarily deferred, Maritim turned to hawking chicken and eggs by the roadside in Bomet.
He sells an average of five chickens a day but sometimes goes home empty-handed whenever fails to make a sale in a trade where the fittest only survives due to the aggression it requires.
For 13 years, he has navigated the challenges of this hand-to-mouth business, supporting his wife, son, and mother, but despite the hardship, the desire to rekindle his educational aspirations remained alive.
“I take care of my wife, son, and my mother with the proceeds I get from hawking eggs and chickens on the Bomet-Narok highway but I want a better life for them beyond this hand-to-mouth business,” Mr Maritim said in an interview as he sprinted back and forth conducting his trade opposite Fairhills Hotel.
My dream is to become a lawyer, and that is what has informed my decision to start my education all over again, my age notwithstanding.
His former school principal, Moses Chepkwony, had a positive character reference for Maritim, remembering him as a disciplined and hardworking student from humble beginnings.
“He was a disciplined, focused and hardworking student from a very humble background. But had challenges paying school fees,” said Mr Chepkwony, shedding light on the hurdles Maritim faced while pursuing his education.
Unable to collect his KCSE certificate due to a lingering fees balance of over Sh10,000 owed to the school, Maritim found himself at a pivotal juncture. Undeterred by age and obstacles, he sought a different path to realising his dream of becoming a lawyer.
“The only way I could make a good stab at it was to re-enroll in primary school, study hard and register grades that could secure me a scholarship to secondary school,” Maritim explained.
This too presented its own set of challenges, as Maritim was told he was too old to be in a regular primary school.
He sought intervention from the Ministry of Education offices in Bomet and eventually enrolled as a private candidate for the KCPE exams.
“I studied on my own, especially during weekends and in the evenings when I was not too tired,” Maritim recalled his solitary academic pursuit.
As a private candidate at Bomet Primary School examination center, Maritim emerged as the leading candidate, scoring an impressive 350 marks in the 2023 KCPE exams.
His subject scores were equally commendable with 64 in Maths, 74 in English, 66 in Kiswahili, 70 in Sciences, and 76 in Social Studies.
“My dream is to become a lawyer, and that is what has informed my decision to start my education all over again, my age notwithstanding,” Maritim declared.
With the KCPE results in hand, Maritim is looking ahead to the next chapter.
He has selected Mangu, Kapsabet Boys, Tenwek Boys, Litein Boys, Kaplong Boys, and Olbutyo Boys as his preferred secondary schools. Optimistic about the possibilities that lie ahead, he is eager to secure a scholarship that will enable him to pursue secondary education.
“I will be happy if I am admitted to Mangu or Kapsabet Boys’ High school and am confident of joining university in another four years to pursue my professional dream of becoming a lawyer,” Maritim told Nation.Africa.
He says the challenge lies in overcoming financial constraints that could potentially hinder his pursuit of education in a formal setting.
“I am appealing for sponsorship to enable me to pursue the dream of joining the legal profession, and I want to promise that I will not disappoint,” Maritim said.
Without such sponsorship, the path forward for Maritim involves waiting to register as a private candidate for the KCSE exams four years from today.
“I want to join boarding school so that I can fully concentrate on my studies, as this might be my last chance at attaining my goals in life,” Maritim said.
On Monday, he was at the Bomet County education offices seeking to have his name properly spelled by KNEC which captured Agustine rather than Augustine in the results.
“When I sat for the exams, I realised one of my names had been misspelt and I informed the invigilator who said it would be sorted out later,” Maritim said.
Candidates have a 30-day window within which to have any anomalies in their examination results corrected by the Council. As Maritim awaits the Form One selection results, he does so with optimism and a belief in the transformative power of education.