Why 150,000 sought Form 1 slots at Nanyuki School

Nanyuki School in Laikipia

Nanyuki School in Laikipia County.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

For the second year, more than 150,000 KCPE exam candidates wanted to join Nanyuki School, which had only 480 slots.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on Monday disclosed that the school was the most selected with 156, 003 candidates eyeing to join Form One there.

Last year, 154,524 KCPE exam candidates had selected the School and its remarkable academic growth and focus on technical training has everything to do with the massive interest.

A sharp improvement of the school’s performance over the past four years, as well as introduction of technical subjects, saw the school, in the suburbs of Nanyuki town, attract 154,524 applications.
This made it the most desired school in the country.

When the KCPE 2020 Form One selection began, Prof Magoha announced that more than 154,000 applicants were battling for the school’s 384 slots.

Nanyuki School

Students at Nanyuki School learn how to fly a plane on a simulator on June 22, 2021.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The school’s total capacity is less than 1,000. Last year, Nation.Africa visited the school to find just what makes it tick.

From the beautiful floral arrangement to the majestic administration block, the library and renovated classrooms, Nanyuki Boys exudes excellence.

The boys’ demeanour, hurried gait and a calmness as they go about their learning shows a level of focus that justifies the school’s national status.  

They have a strict schedule, followed for years and it is incorporated not just in their lives, but those of their teachers as well.

In charge of academics

The schedule has been credited for the significant improvement in the KCSE performance in the last four years, said Mr Gitonga King’ori, the deputy principal in charge of academics.

The school was started in 1964 for white settler children living in Laikipia. It was officially opened and registered in 1969 as a three-streamed day and boarding facility.

The library at Nanyuki School

The library at Nanyuki School.

Photo credit: Joeph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

From the initial 35 students, the school has grown to the current enrolment of 782. The school sits on 53 acres at the base of Mt Kenya outside Nanyuki town. Its location makes it relatively warmer than most areas around the highest mountain in the country.

Here, the day starts at 5am when the boys go for preps, and ends at 9:30pm.

During assembly, the students are in charge of the activities and teachers take very little time to address them. The students are allowed to make project presentations from subjects or clubs.

This, the principal, Mr Oliver Minishi in an interview in 2021 said, helps in boosting their confidence and encouraging them to read widely.

“We have made the students own the school assembly, in that they do most of the talking and some even do presentations. On Monday this week, during the assembly, the geography students made a presentation about the erupting volcano. We want to inject learning in all our activities,” said Mr Minishi.

Between 8am and 4pm, the students are engaged with their teachers, who strive to complete their syllabuses by the first term of the final year, giving the learners enough time to revise before the KCSE examination.

Aside from the usual classwork, the boys have numerous activities, such as continuous assessment tests during lunch breaks and multiple tests to keep the students exam-ready all through. They do a minimum of four exams a term.

“We do target studying and testing. This means that we tell them that we will test Form Two work and that is what they read and we strictly test on that,” Mr Kingori said.

This, he says, has seen the school’s mean score rise from 5.84 in 2017 to 6.71 in 2018, 7.82 in 2019 and 8.68 in the 2020 KCSE exam results released last month.

Pick one technical subject

The technical subjects offered are aviation, electricity, building, wood work, agriculture and computer. They also have French. All Form One students pick one technical subject, which they can pursue to the final year, or drop it during the Form Two subject selection.

The technical subjects are aimed at giving the boys skills that they may need once they finish secondary school, as well as nurture their talents.

“We want to introduce more subjects like home science and film, among others, so that they have more choices,” Mr Minishi says.

“The technical skills perform very well and in the 2020 KCSE exam, the first lot of aviation students managed a mean score of 10 points. The 29 students in woodwork had a mean score of 11.5 points, which was a drop from 12 points in the previous year and the 18 computer students managed an 11.8 mean,” Mr Kingori added.

Other academic policies include multiple benchmarking, capacity building, parent teacher policies, integration of ICT in learning and the involvement of students in teaching and learning.

The administration has also devolved its duties to the students creating administrations, complete with a principal, deputy and career manager.

This, Mr Minishi said, has cascaded down the management to the students where many issues are handled at that level, making it easier for the students to speak up and interact with their teachers.