Girl who walked 3km to school, scored 327 in KCPE unable to join Form One

Lilian Karani with her daughter Sylvia Akinyi holding her form admission letter at Butali market on April 27, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Lilian Karani stares absentmindedly into space. On the long eatery table beside which she sits, there is a Form One admission letter for her daughter Sylvia Akinyi who is 14 years old.

At the next table, Akinyi also sits quietly, trying to ponder what the future holds for her. However, all looks bleak at the moment. They are alone in the small room where Karani operates as an eatery.

Akinyi sat her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations at Shirongo Primary School in Kakamega County last year. She scored 327 marks despite numerous challenges that affected her studies.

“Akinyi would have scored better grades had the situation at home been better,” Musa Ndavane, her class teacher, said.

“She is a very hard-working, bright, and polite girl. She has endured a lot of difficulties in her home life; making do with what little her mother can get from a small eatery business that is on its knees at Butali market”.

Ndavane says that through sheer determination, Akinyi walked three kilometers every morning to get to school and repeat the journey in the evening.

“She comes from a poor and troubled background. I took the initiative to put her on a school feeding programme to help her concentrate on her studies. I also exempted her from most school payments and there were times I paid motorbike riders to take her home in the evenings. This girl can do better if given a chance,” Ndavane says.

“My daughter performed well and got an admission letter from Moi Girls High School Nangili, but I have no means of paying her school fees,” Ms Karani says in a resigned voice, completely dejected.

Apparently, she is still struggling to pay school fees for three of Akinyi’s siblings in secondary school after Covid-19 ran down the business that sustained them.

“I have reached a point where I can no longer pay fees for my children and most of the time, they are sent away for lack of school fees. This eatery used to sustain us before Covid-19 hit when my business practically died. I have spent all the money I could have used to increase my stock and now I have nothing to sustain my business. In fact, I have no place to call home. I live in a small house a sympathizer allowed me to occupy after I was kicked out of rental houses several times,” Karana says.

It is in the house Meshack Omollo, a businessman, donated to them that Karani and her children now live in.

Karani’s only wish is that her children get a good education, which she says she is unable to provide.

“I feel sad every time I look at my daughter, fully aware that she will not be joining secondary school because of poverty. Look at her, she feels bad that her mates will be joining secondary school while she remains at home."

“I cannot apply for any bursary because ideally, a student has to report to school first. Unfortunately, I do not see my daughter going to her school unless someone comes to my rescue. I do not have a single cent on me”.