What you need to know:
- Here’s a man who had a dream that was not affected by the limits of time.
- He was ready to walk down the road however long it would take.
Thirty-eight-year-old Mathew Aol Nyamlori’s education journey saw him spend 22 years in primary school and sit KCPE exams nine times, but his efforts and determination have finally paid off.
On Friday, Nyamlori graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy and Administration from Kenyatta University in a ceremony that was conducted virtually.
Nyamlori's achievement after decades of great academic pursuit filled with abysmal turmoil came as good news for his elated parents.
His father, Thomas Aol, is happy and calls him “a courageous and motivated young man.”
“I have not been able to give him the education he needed but God held his hand,” he says. “I’m so happy to witness this while I’m still alive.”
His mother Nereah Diang’a Nyamlori likens him to the Biblical King David, who went to war without a sophisticated weapon but the three stones that he used to fell his enemies.
Here’s a man who had a dream that was not affected by the limits of time. He was ready to walk down the road however long it would take. He had a vision and had put forward his best foot and staged a spirited fight to conquer academia.
Nyamlori is an alumnus of Nairobi School, one of the five national schools he attended. He attended nine primary schools.
Nyamlori was in primary school for more than 20 years not because he was a slow learner, but because he pursued excellence in academic performance so that he would get a scholarship or a well-wisher to take him through high school.
His parents were not able to educate him past the primary level. A lot of people have asked him why he spent so many years in primary school while he was academically gifted. His response was that he continuously lacked substantial financial support whenever he transitioned to secondary school.
For example, after excelling in KCPE in 2004 — his third attempt where he scored 434 marks — Nyamlori got admission to Maseno School but could not join for lack of school fees. The principal finally empathised with him after almost four months and allowed him to join other Form One students.
But his stay at the school was transient as he dropped out in 2006 while in Form Two because he had not made any fee payments since admission the previous year.
In 2007, he opted to travel to Nairobi to try his hand at menial jobs. He had lost hope. Five KCPE attempts and getting admissions to more than two national schools yet missing all the chances had taken a toll on him.
This was not the kind of life he had hoped for, but what else could he do now?
But he wasn’t in Nairobi for long as he went back to the village to sit KCPE a sixth time at Agoro Sare Primary School in Oyugis, Homa Bay County, where teachers gave him a house in the school to reside in.
In 2008, he sat KCPE and scored 395 marks. He was admitted to Maranda School but did not join. Instead, he went to Aldorebby Junior Academy in Narok for another KCPE attempt. Nyamlori scored 406 marks out of a possible 500 marks and got an admission letter to Kapsabet Boys High School. He did not join.
In 2010, he went to Agape Academy in Kosele for the eighth KCPE attempt and was re-admitted at Maranda High School for the second time in three years. He still was not able to join the school due to a lack of fees.
Nyamlori’s breakthrough came in 2011 when he sat his ninth KCPE at Oriri Primary School in Oyugis, Homa Bay, and got admitted to Nairobi School, and then Equity Bank’s Wings To Fly programme awarded him a scholarship.
He scored an impressive mean grade of B+ in KCSE and was offered admission at Kenyatta University from he has now graduated.
With the much-sought after university degree, Nyamlori can finally enjoy the fruits of his labour.
“I passed through a lot. I am the record holder, the serial KCPE taker in Kenya. No one has ever done that. I don’t regret doing it, I'll never regret it. I am a graduate now… I can only say, thank you God," he told the Nation in an exclusive interview on his graduation day.
“Despite the fact that I don’t have a job, I have a clean degree from a prestigious university and I have not gone through any shortcuts,” he said.
Nyamlori says he will remain eternally grateful to his benefactors, without whom he would never have realised his academic dreams. He specifically singled out Equity Bank’s Wings To Fly programme and his alma mater Nairobi School.
"Dr James Mwangi of Equity through Wings To Fly picked me from the village and brought me to Nairobi School after spending 22 years in primary school. I owe him everything," Nyamlori told the Nation.
"At Nairobi school, I learnt so many lessons that help me to this day. Most of our teachers were considerate. They guided and mentored me."