Learners plead for help to join Form One

Brevilly Adongo, June Ndanu, Helton Ogeto, Brevilly Adongo, Joy Wambui Huho and Joy Wambui Huho

Clockwise: Brevilly Adongo, June Ndanu, Helton Ogeto, Brevilly Adongo, Joy Wambui Huho and Joy Wambui Huho.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group | Pool

As millions of learners reported back to school from the half-term break, the learners featured in this story remained at home for lack of school fees. 

They have never stepped into secondary school despite passing their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations and getting admitted to secondary school. They want to be linked to well-wishers to raise funds for their education. 

Their plight mirrors that of hundreds of other students who are yet to join Form One even as their peers reported back after the mid-term break.

On March 1, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said more than 160,000 learners have not reported to Form One and Grade 7, in a major blow to the 100 per cent transition policy. He said that the transition to junior high and Form One stood at 96 per cent and 91 per cent, respectively. 

Helton Ogeto, 14, trudges alongside his father Evans Ogeto in the capital’s Mukuru kwa Njenga, selling water from a cart. 
His aspiration to join Form One may remain unfulfilled despite performing exceptionally well in his KCPE exam. He fears that he may never have the opportunity to enter secondary school despite scoring 362 out of 500 marks.

Evans Ogeto is helped by his son Helton Ogeto 14, to load water onto a cart. 

Evans Ogeto is helped by his son Helton Ogeto 14, to load water onto a cart. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

“My heart aches every day knowing that I scored 362 in the 2022 KCPE exam, yet I am still at home because my parents are unable to afford my school fees,” he says. The annual fee at Kalulini Boys High School, where Helton secured a slot, is Sh40,535, while the term one fee is Sh20,400 according to the official fee breakdown.

June Ndanu, 14, is gripped with fear, unsure she will ever walk through the gates of a high school. When we met her, she was at her mother’s kibanda selling vegetables. She scored 345 marks in her KCPE exam, a remarkable feat considering her upbringing in the harsh slums of Mukuru. Her greatest fear is that her life may never amount to more than that of a vegetable seller.

June Ndanu

June Ndanu, 14, helps her mother prepare kales at a glossary shop in Mukuru Kwa Njenga on March 12, 2023. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

“I worked so hard because I wanted to beat poverty but the reality has caught up with me that I might never beat it” says June.
June was supposed to join Kyondoni Girls High School, which according to the official school fee breakdown, this year’s fee is Sh40,535 while the term one fee is Sh20,400.

Lucky Mboga was among those who marched in the streets of Nairobi on February 20 over the lack of school fees. They had walked seven kilometres from Mathare under the scorching sun. His mother cannot afford to take him to the Kericho school he was called to, but he hopes to join Ofafa Jericho Boys High School in Makadara. His brother Justin Irungu who scored 364 marks also sits at home. 

“I always wanted to be an engineer and wear the yellow hardhat and make my parents proud. I wanted to be the one in my family to help them out, “ says Lucky.
According to the Chebgwagan Secondary School fee structure, this year’s fee is Sh49,535.

Joy Wambui Huho, 15, scored 345 in the KCPE exam despite the difficult circumstances at home. 
“I was studying at night using candlelight because we don’t have electricity at home. I was excited to receive news that I’d been admitted to Kijabe Girls High School,” she says.  Her joy has however turned into sorrow as her mother, who washes clothes for a living, is unable to pay for her education. 

Joy Wambui Huho.

Joy Wambui Huho.

Photo credit: Pool

“My mother managed to get some money from well-wishers for uniforms and a few items and take me to school so that I don’t lose my place. However, I’ve been asked not to report back without the balance for the first term including for uniform (Sh31,082),” she says.

Oduor Brevilly Adongo,15, scored 333 marks in the KCPE exam.
Oduor lives in Aviation Village in Embakasi, Nairobi, with his father and brother. 
“I sat my KCPE examination at Jubilant Junior School where I’d been sponsored by the head teacher. I was earlier in and out of school owing to financial problems,” he says.

Brevilly Adongo

Brevilly Adongo during the interview at Nation Centre on March 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

His father does menial jobs. Oduor got admission to Isibania Boys High School.
“I haven’t reported due to lack of fees. We tried fundraising but we haven’t gotten any help since everybody in the slum is poor,” he says. The cost of the uniform is Sh13,500 while the Form One fee is Sh40,535. There are other items he needs, too. 

Elvis Orenge, 13, attained 280 marks in the KCPE exam.
“I sat my exams at Richmas Primary School in Embakasi, Nairobi. I live with my father and younger brother. We live in Aviation Village in Embakasi East,” he says. He was previously at Ibenchu Primary School in Kisii County.
His father does Jua Kali jobs, which are not guaranteed. 

Elvis Orenge

Elvis Orenge during the interview at Nation Centre on March 7, 2023. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

“Since I got admission to Kaptebengwet Boys High School, my dad has been unable to raise the money to take me to school. 
Elvis says the cost of uniforms is Sh7,350 while the fee is Sh40,535. There’s also the cost of personal items. 
“I’m appealing to well-wishers to help me go to school,” he says.

Job Makina Nyariki, 14, attained 206 marks and was called to Katani Secondary School.

Job Nyakina Nyariki

Job Nyakina Nyariki during the interview at Nation Centre on March 7, 2023. PHOTO LUCY WANJIRU 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

“I live with my mother and my twin sisters in Aviation Village in Embakasi. I’d have scored better marks in the KCPE exams but I only studied for one month in Standard 8. The rest of the time I was away from school,” says Job.

On the day we met him, he said they had been locked out of their house for non-payment of rent. His mother does menial jobs like washing clothes or packaging French beans. “I’m appealing for help to go to school so that I can help my mother and sisters later,” he says.


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