Pioneer students faced great odds but set the bar very high
SEE ALSO :Judge: Moi’s advice helped me to excelShe went to the school accompanied by her parents who pleaded with President Moi to allow her to study as they worked to get the fees. Luckily, her fees was subsidised and she would pay Sh1,200 annually instead of Sh2,000 by the other students. Ben Chepkoit joined the school a year later in 1980 for both his ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. Chepkoit, who holds two PhDs – one in Business Administration from Northcentral University in Arizona, USA, and another in Management Information Systems form Nova Southeastern University in Florida, US, says President Moi’s vision will forever live on in those who went through Kabarak. “Education is an equaliser. Kabarak symbolises that as we all met from different backgrounds, whether poor or rich, but were in pursuit of dreams to be better people in the future.” Dr Chepkoit has, for the past 27 years, been working in Kenya and the US and is currently a professor in Maryland University College. He has also lectured in Liberty University, University of Phoenix and Bowie State University. He also has managed several organisations in the US and served as a director and managing director in several companies in Kenya, notable among them Standard Group PLC, Sovereign Group, Liaison Insurance, International Hotel and Tourism Institute, Transnational Bank and Kenya Aerotech Limited. “If it were not for this school and the seriousness of the founding teachers, Kabarak would not be the towering giant it is today. I am proud to have gone through the institution and will forever be grateful to former President Moi,” he said. Dr Isaac Kipkoros was also among the fi rst students having joined Kabarak in 1980. “I was in the first intake of Form Ones in 1980. This is the time we were housed in mabati dormitories, which were very hot,” he said. He says the food was not as good until one day the President walked in by during meal time. He did not like the food, saying it had no nutritional value. “The principal, Mr Kimetto, was ordered by Moi: ‘kutoka leo watoto wakunywe uji ya wimbi.” Kipkoros, who is based in the US, has PhD in civil engineering. “Moi made learning interesting. Some of us were from families that lived from hand to mouth. Giving us shoes and uniforms was a noble idea that brought equality,” he says. During weekends, the former President would invite all students to his home where they would interact with visitors from various parts of the country. The visitors would encourage them to work hard. “Imagine dinning with the who-is-who in the country and international leaders and you are just students. It was a nice experience,” recalls Toroitich. Dr Dina Chengwony Mwinzi is a proud woman and attributes both her career and leadership skills to Kabarak. Mwinzi, the Vice Chancellor of KAG East University, went to Kabarak for her A-level studies between 1985 and 1986 after emerging the top student in Elgeyo Markwet District in Form Four national exam. In 1986, she was selected together with five other students to travel to UK on an exchange programme to understand the British education system. To her, this was an eye-opener as she got a rare opportunity to interact with students from across the world. “The school picked top performers in academics for the trip. I was very happy because it was not only my fi rst time to fl y, but also to see a plane,” she recalls.