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‘Abandoned’ school that produced the best boy in this year’s KCPE

By Alex Wakhisi | Published Fri, December 16th 2016 at 00:00, Updated December 15th 2016 at 22:36 GMT +3

With a population of 278 learners, Daisy Special School for the physically and mentally challenged and vocational training has six classrooms against the required 17.

And those six classrooms are so dilapidated that one would be forgiven for thinking they have long been abandoned. To add salt to injury, the institution has inadequate learning materials.

The school was started in the 1990s by a European settler whose child, Daisy, had special needs.

The school was handed over to the Government in 1995 but successive regimes have done little to improve its infrastructure.

The sole project started by the Constituency Development Fund was the construction of a dining hall, which has since stalled.

“We face a lot of challenges in educating the children because the school does not have enough facilities to cater for them. We have been neglected by the society as they feel special needs’ children deserve no support,” said Rosemary Abiero, the school’s head teacher.

“We have been left on our own with well-wishers coming to our aid but leaders have abandoned us. We have six classrooms instead of the required 17 yet we have learners with different needs to be addressed,” she added.

Ms Abiero noted that most children have health problems including hearing impairment and other physical disabilities.

“We lack enough wheelchairs to cater for our pupils. Some have cerebral palsy and we have to take them to hospital from time to time but we lack a van to assist in their transportation,” she said.

She said learners fall sick from time to time and during the recent Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations, a candidate fell sick and had to sit the examination while on medication. That candidate passed with 396 marks.

“We do not have enough infrastructure to cater for the children. We do not have any latrines or dormitories for our boarding pupils and we sometimes struggle to get food for them thus they go hungry,” she said.

But staff’s willingness to try out new strategies propelled the school to academic glory in this year’s KCPE examinations, against all odds.

The school shot from a mean score of 239 marks in 2015 to 332 in 2016, and produced the country’s top performer, Victor Odhiambo, who managed 437 marks out of a possible 500.

Allan Agufa, the school’s top candidate among learners with special needs got 422 marks.

Odhiambo said the challenges they faced in the school almost shattered his dreams of performing well in the exam.

“I have a hearing impairment that needs medical support. We lacked some of the basic needs because our parents are poor and the school could not cater for everything,” he said.

Clifford Odhiambo was a slow learner and therefore considers getting 365 marks a miracle.

“Our teachers strained a lot to help us get good marks. I am a slow learner and I could not understand some concepts in class but my teachers did not get tired of me. They supported me,” he said.

Abiero says a school van would help the administration handle emergency cases better due to the conditions of most learners.

“The Teachers Service Commission and Ministry of Education have been supportive. But we need a van to help us take care of our learners, especially in cases of emergencies,” she said.

For the past 25 years little was known about the school that struggles through hardship to educate children with disabilities.

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