They defied the tough conditions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and aced the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination, but for various reasons — ranging from ill-health to lack of fees — they are unlikely to join their peers in Form One next week. These are just a tiny drop in the ocean of desperate pupils seeking a spot in class, and they share their experiences with the Nation in the hope that, as one puts it, “miracles will happen”.
Billy Steve, Homa Bay, Marks scored: 405
I am the second born to a single mum. My mum, who has brought us up on menial jobs, separated from my father and we moved to my grandparent’s home. It is my grandfather who always chipped in when mum was overwhelmed. But now he is dead. He passed on May 26 — two months before I join Form One. Mum is overwhelmed now. The little we’ve saved from her meagre income I’ve used to buy a metallic box, school shoes and a mattress. Occasionally, I try out the shoes. I’m to join Maseno School but I’m not sure mum can find the school fees. I can see how worried she is. I listen to her pray every morning about my school fees. I only say ‘Amen’ to her prayers, hoping God will answer her.
Changirwa Shadrack Gulavi, Migori, Marks scored: 383
Of all the pieces of advice, I hold dear a line my mum, a single mother, frequently told me: “My son, please work hard. It’s the only to get us out of poverty.” I have always held it close to my heart. When I sat KCPE, I narrowly missed joining the 400-mark club. For my efforts, I have got three admission letters, two from Migori Boys and one from Mbita High. But the dream of pursuing secondary education is now hanging in the balance. My mother survives on odd jobs and I am afraid I might end up like my elder brother, whose education ended in Standard Eight.
Steve Austin, Nairobi, Marks scored: 373
I have been called to join Maranda High School, but I’m not sure I will because my mum and heroine, Mercy Nado, appears to have reached the end of her wits. She is only a house help with a meagre pay and has struggled even to see me through my primary school level. She definitely cannot get enough money to cater for my secondary school fees, given that cost is running into thousands of shillings. I have been living with one of my teachers. My mother is also taking care of my three-year-old brother and since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she hasn’t been able to get a sable house help job.
Caroline Mkamburi, Migori, Marks scored: 363
I hail from a village called Oruba in Migori County. I missed my target of 400 marks by quite a margin, but going by the village standards, I passed. However, it appears the admission letter I have received from St Albert’s Ulanda Girls could be the closest I will ever come to the Rongo-based school. Because, given my humble background, my father Lucas Otieno Okenga cannot financially support my studies. He is a peasant struggling to keep my two other siblings in secondary school and he fears he might not meet my dream of getting a secondary education.
Becky Anyango, Migori, Marks scored: 303
From the little-known St Gabriel Primary School in Nyatike, Migori County, scoring above 300 seemed more like a dream than a reality. Again, miraculously, I would say, I got an admission letter to Rae Girls High School. But my streak of good luck seems to be grinding to a sudden halt. My father, our sole family’s breadwinner, lost his job when the gold mine he was working at suddenly shut operations. With my mother, who is a housewife, they are scratching their heads, wondering how I can join Form One.
Margret Miteka, Nakuru, Marks scored: 378
I hail from a humble background. I persevered through the cold mornings as is typical of Nakuru County, sometimes going to school without breakfast. Other times, I was always out of school to collect tuition fees while my peers were studying. On most nights, I stayed late to catch up with what my classmates had studied while I was away. My dream to join Moi Girls’, Nairobi, has come true; I have the admission letter. But I’m not sure about joining due to the lack of school fees. Term one fees is Sh31,775 and another Sh24,250 is needed to cater for school uniform, books and personal effects. I can see how sick my father, a boda boda rider, is. For the last four months he has been bedridden and he can barely afford paying for medication. I suppose it is as a result of the burden of raising my school fees. My mum sells charcoal in the neighbourhood. She barely makes Sh150 profit on a good day, and that’s what sustains us. She also has rent to pay. I, therefore, appeal to any well-wisher to help me. I don’t want to lose this chance.
Teddy Joshua, Uasin Gishu, Marks scored: 301
Ill-health is dimming my hopes of joining Form One at Leseru Secondary School in Uasin Gishu. It all started with convulsions, then I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. In December last year I underwent an optical surgery and now my left eye is slowly losing vision. I am battling sickle cell anaemia. As I was sitting KCPE, I was in excruciating pain. In the afternoons especially, headaches made it unbearable to concentrate and as a result I could barely answer any questions. Regardless, I scored 301 marks. But my dream of furthering my studies is on the verge of being shuttered. As it stands, my family can barely afford my treatment cost and my school fees at the same time. My parents have spent nearly all their savings on my medication. At least Sh10,000 is required every month for my treatment. While other parents are going on with shopping in readiness for Form One admission, my parents are frequent visitors to health facilities in Eldoret. Despite my health, and no matter the pain I am feeling, I hope that one day I will be healed and proceed to secondary school to fulfill my ambition of becoming an engineer.
Nyambinya Stephan Kemunto, Uasin Gishu, Marks scored: 358
I have received an admission letter from Shimba Hills Secondary School in Kwale. My mother, who caters for us by doing odd jobs that hardly fetch more than Sh500 a day, cannot raise the fees required. And I suspect getting my fare to Kwale from Uasin Gishu is an arduous task, let alone my fees and catering for my personal effects. My father works as a tout at the Eldoret bus terminus and has often called home asking my mum to bail her upon being roughed up by the police. And, I guess with his meagre daily pay, he can barely have any surplus to save. I am a hardworking, well-mannered girl. If someone volunteers to sponsor my studies, I promise to remain disciplined, hardworking and to excel in my studies.
Evans Mutethia, Meru, Marks scored: 347
I am an orphan, staying with my ailing 90-year-old grandmother. With her encouragement, I have always worked hard. I am glad that I secured a chance to join Nguviu Boys’ High School in Embu. I’m, however, worried that I may not join Form One. My father died and the whereabouts of my mother are unknown. I have been relying on my aunt, Beatrice Karwitha, but she is not stable enough to take me to Nguviu. About Sh40,535 is needed in fees and other items may cost close to Sh30,000.
Aron Koome Maakira, Tharaka Nithi, Marks scored: 383
After I secured admission to Meru School, which has been my dream school all along, it is now dawning on me that I may never join Form One because my parents are not able to raise the fees needed. My elder brother is in Form Three at Tharaka Boys High School and the other one in Form Two at Materi Boys High School, but they are preparing to join village day schools since my parents cannot raise their fees. So far, I only have a box, some shopping and Sh1,000 for transport in case a miracle happens.
Aaron Muthomi, Meru, Marks scored: 362
I have received an admission letter from Kanyakine, an extra-county school in Imenti South. But because I lack school fees, I am likely to forfeit my dream of becoming a doctor. From the moment I received my results and I was satisfied that I had done my best, I went looking for odd jobs to complement my mother’s meagre income; just so we could save enough to pay my school fees. Now, the reporting day is nigh yet we haven’t made enough to cater for the fees. You see, my mum couldn’t even raise my circumcision fee. I doubted she would raise the fees alone. So, I chipped in. I appeal to well-wishers to help me realise my dream.
Jacton Omondi, Nairobi, Marks scored: 372
I topped my class at Rehema Community Centre and earned an admission to Orero High School in Rangwe. But as things stand, I cannot even start imagining travelling there. I come from a family of five children, and I am the fourth born. My father used to work as a security guard but one morning in 2019, thugs hacked his right hand at the muscle. It never regained functionality. He moved to the countryside and left us in Nairobi. I now live with my mother, brother and sister in Dandora Phase IV. The Form One reporting date is days away but I haven’t bought anything in preparation. If anyone helps me make it to Orero, I promise to work very hard. I will not let them down.
Nice Murugi Nyaga, Lamu, Marks scored: 303
My father, Josphat Nyaga, died of cancer in November 2020. My mother, Damaris Muthoni, has no job. The poverty we have lived in since my father died hasn’t bothered me as much as it is now. I can’t imagine not being able to join high school. It’s my prayer that someone out there will help me meet my invitation to Mpeketoni Sacred Heart Girls High School.
Mata Kaja, Tana River, Marks scored: 351
Circumstances have forced me to be a fisherwoman. I have an admission letter to Bura Girls but how do I get the fees? I am an orphan. To raise my fees, I took over my ailing uncle’s fishing business. I wake up at the crack of dawn alongside my aunt and we head to Lake Shakababo to fish. By 8am, we are selling fish at the shore. My brothers will not be able to go to school this term since there is no school fees. So they decided that we all struggle to get me to join Form One. I am quite impressed because so far we have made Sh27,000 of the required Sh53,000 needed for admission. The Wings to Fly programme by Equity Bank could not sponsor me because it is supporting my sister.
Everline Sidi, Lamu, Marks scored: 328
I am the fifth born in a family of seven and I have a calling letter to Bahari Secondary in Lamu West. My father used to work at a hardware store in Lamu town but he lost his job due to the Covid-19 pandemic. My mother Rehema Birya engages in odd jobs like doing laundry. I have neither the fees nor the required items to join Form One. I need help.
Samson Kaingu, Mombasa, Marks scored: 383
I was elated to get good grades in KCPE, which I wrote at Amani Primary School. I have been admitted to Cardinal Otunga High School in Kisii but I doubt I will make it there, because the Sh40,535 needed per year isn’t an easy amount to raise. My mother, Tatu Ngala, is a domestic worker and she can barely afford the fees. Neither can my father, a casual labourer.
Penina Mkanyika, Mombasa, Marks scored: 380
I am to join Bura Girls but one needs at least Sh53,554 a year. That is not an amount my parents can raise. My mother is a domestic worker and my father does odd jobs at Kongowea market.
Elizabeth Tumaini Furaha, Kilifi, Marks scored: 307
I sat KCPE aged 18 due to illness. I had a terrible bout of malaria that forced me to repeat classes. My KCPE achievement can be attributed to Suzan Oguok, a senior teacher at Kwa Shee Primary School in Mikindani, who took me in when we had to move to our rural home in Kilifi after my father lost his job. My father, Furaha Kahindi Karisa, was a casual labourer who was rendered jobless by the Covid-19 pandemic. I have an admission letter to Ganze Girls but raising the required Sh23,000 is a tall order.
Faith Kwekwe, Kilifi, Marks scored: 362
At 16, I have been forced to take care of my six siblings. My elder brother, a Form Three student, has also been forced to work in construction sites. My single mother recently secured a househelp job in Malindi and left us to fend for ourselves. She comes home every last Saturday of the month. My father died in 2018, leaving my mother with the arduous task of raising us. With that dire situation, I don’t see myself joining Form One at Bahari Girls, a national school in Kilifi County.
Kennedy Baraka, Kilifi, Marks scored: 397
I am to join Kenyatta High School in Mwatate but it will be a miracle if I make it there. My father does not have a stable job to bring him enough cash to take me to school. My two brothers, who are university students in Nairobi, are also facing tough times. My father, Pancrus Kazungu, used to supply vegetables to Nakumatt Supermarkets and his life has not been the same since the retail chain closed.
Joseph Omar Juma, Kilifi, Marks scored: 379
If some divine forces intervene, I will be joining Ribe Boys next week. I say “divine forces” because as we speak, my mother has not managed to raise money even for my shopping. I have no hope of going to Ribe because I have not been able to get any support. She is raising me and my sibling single-handedly after separating with our father. She works at construction sites where she gets Sh500 after a tough day’s job. Considering that she has to pay rent, buy food and meet other expenses, that is peanuts.
Erastus Muthini, Embu, Marks scored: 334
I sat my KCPE at Kitoto Primary School and I am to join Nyagatugu Boys in Murang’a on July 29. If I don’t show up, I will lose my slot — so says the calling letter. That sad possibility might come to pass because my parents say they have no money. They are casual labourers and have been struggling to fend for my two siblings and I.
Kennedy Mutua, Taita Taveta
My father, Raphael Wambua, lost his job as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a terrible situation to be in because now I have been called to Makueni Boys but I doubt whether I will honour it. I require more than Sh50,000 to at least join the school. My father has been doing such jobs as masonry and gardening to make money, and so far he has Sh10,000. We can only hope for the best because we can’t seem to get any local bursaries as we are considered non-locals despite having lived here for 20 years.
Emmanuel Sakasa, Kisumu, Marks scored: 406
I am being raised by a single mother, Rose Sakasa, who lost her job at a hotel following the Covid-19 pandemic. I am supposed to join Kakamega High School on August 2 but at the moment, I have not prepared in any way for the admission. My mother has been knocking doors trying to get a sponsor for me to no avail.
Bivon Ombima, Kisi, Marks scored: 385
A lack of funds is so bad on my side that I still owe Sh10,000 at Sameta Primary School, where I sat KCPE. You can imagine the difficulty we are facing trying to raise Sh53,000 to at least secure admission to Mbita High School. My mother Irene Moraa, who is raising me and my two siblings, has had it rough since our father walked out on us seven years ago. She used to work at a hotel in Nairobi, which was closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Emmanuel Ochieng, Kisumu, Marks scored: 325
I am a total orphan who has been relying on my brothers since our parents died in 2016. I have always struggled to attend school, however, on some days I would be forced to stay out of school due to a lack of funds or food. My elder brothers have not pursued secondary education for lack of funds and I see myself going the same route unless a well-wisher helps me secure admission and pay fees at St Peter’s Boys in Muhoroni where I have been admitted to.
Sandra Claris Musulwa, Kakamega, Marks scored: 316
I have been raised by my grandmother. My mother is away and my father is unknown. I sat KCPE at Shikoti Mixed Primary School and I have an admission letter from Kakunga Girls in Kakamega County. But given my grandmother’s limited means, the dream of joining secondary school is just that — a dream.
There are many other pupils in Kenya who might not join Form One for one reason or another. These are just a handful that the Nation has profiled. If you would like to assist any of them please send an email to [email protected] with the subject FORM ONE ASSISTANCE, or call 0719038417.