A 15-year-old girl in Athi River, Machakos County, has failed to join high school despite posting 379 marks in the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination (KCPE) exams.
Jenifer Wanza Kioko sat the 2022 KCPE exams at Athi River St Paul's Primary School, emerging among the top candidates from public schools in the region. She earned herself a slot at Butere Girls High School in Western Kenya.
But her parents failed to raise school fees for their second-born child in a family of six siblings to join the school of her choice.
When the Nation visited the family on Monday morning the girl, who aspires to be a medical doctor, was basking in the morning sun outside the family’s rental house.
The family lives in a dimly lit double-room house in Njoguini village in Athi River. Outside the house, in a narrow corridor, there was stagnant dirty water. The girl's father, a tout in Athi River, was not at home.
The girl was still hoping to join high school so as to rescue her family from the yoke of poverty.
Join high school
"I have grown up in this neighbourhood where I have seen people suffer for lack of medical care. I have always aspired to become a medical doctor to help the community but failure to join high school has reduced it to wishful thinking," said Jenifer.
She spent most of her time drawing portraits and helping her mother plait a customer's hair whenever she had a client. She has an artistic gift.
Ms Regina Wanza Kioko, 39, said she does menial jobs in Athi River but the jobs have not been forthcoming due to the current economic hardships facing many families. She has rent arrears running into several months.
She described her daughter as the family’s "shining star" that they hope will help the family in future. She said she had applied for sponsorship from NGOs to no avail.
With her meagre earnings, she has only been able to buy a roll of tissue paper and a bar of soap.
"Nowadays I am unable to sleep thinking about my daughter. I am at rock bottom and it pains me. This is the last thing a parent can wish for her daughter – staying at home when her peers are in school," said Ms Kioko with her one-year-old child strapped to her back.
She added that the neighbourhood is too dangerous for a teenage girl and she has to keep a watchful eye on her daughter. She said her tout husband does not make enough to buy food for the family.
The family is reaching out to well-wishers to help the girl join high school.