Thirsty for education, Lawrence Murimi, 15, from Embu County, stunned administrators at Kangaru Boys High School when he attempted to pay fees using a chicken.
He was admitted to the school after scoring 313 marks out of a possible 500 in the 2021 KCPE exam but he was turned away on Wednesday.
He had attempted to hand over a cockerel to the teachers so he could be allowed into class. He said he was given the chicken by his aunt as a gift after undergoing a rite of passage.
Now County Director of Education James Kairu has intervened and prevailed upon school administrators to admit him.
Murimi was supposed to report to school on May 4, but due to lack of school fees, he could not do so.
His mother Pauline Mukami, who resides in the Majengo slums in Embu town, is a casual labourer and she could not raise the money the boy needed.
Murimi woke up on Wednesday morning and told his mother he could not continue staying at home when other students were learning.
He dressed up in his primary school uniform, took the cockerel and asked her to accompany him.
She agreed and the duo set out, but on the way, they stopped by Embu County Commissioner Eddyson Nyale’s office to tell him what they were about to do.
Dream of becoming a lawyer
Unfortunately, he was not in his office and they proceeded to school, three kilometres from their home.
On arrival, the boy explained that he wanted to pay fees in kind as he was determined to continue his studies like other children so as to achieve his dream of becoming a lawyer.
The teachers declined to take the chicken and asked the boy to leave as he did not even have a school uniform, learning materials or other personal effects.
"We expected that they would accept the cockerel and allow the boy to learn but our hopes were shattered," Ms Mukami said.
When Mr Kairu got wind of what was happening, he started looking for the boy and personally took him to school in a full uniform bought by a good Samaritan.
Mr Kairu remained at the school for the better part of Thursday morning and ensured that the student was admitted without paying even a cent.
"It is the policy of the government that all children should be in school. The government caters for tuition fees and no child should be locked out of school because the parents have no money," he said.
Cases of children failing to report due to lack of fees are common in the region, he said.
"The government has programmes to ensure children enrol and continue learning. Tuition is free because every child is paid for by the government. Parents are only supposed to cater for boarding facilities," he added.
The boy's mother lives in a rented house and earns a living by washing clothes for slum dwellers.
On a good day, she earns Sh200, which is not enough to pay house rent and buy food.
"Life here in slums is hard and my son and I survive by the grace of God," said Ms Mukami, a single mother.