The teaching profession is typically viewed from an authoritarian lens with the teacher serving as an all-knowing deity that cannot be questioned.
But for Moi Educational Centre chief principal Christopher Opuodho, teaching is more than just having authority over students and imparting knowledge to them.
He describes it as “being a surrogate parent” to students where apart from fulfilling the required professional duties, the teacher also supports the students’ wellbeing.
“As teachers, we do not only go to class to teach. Here, we take care of the students’ mental, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing,” said Opuodho.
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This approach which Opuodho conceptualised a year into his term, is what saw the school attain impressive results in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination.
Of the 216 candidates who sat the examinations, 74 scored 400 marks and above. The top students, Hunja Chege, and Michelle Chepkurui scored 420.
They were followed by Joan Maitha with 419 and Sonia Cheptoo Murei with 417. Others were Aaron Kiptoo Korir, Ruby Mwago, Dan Lempiris Leisen and Nicole Mutonyi Kituyi with 416 marks.
Overall, 80 students scored between 375 and 399 marks while 62 students scored between 300 and 374. The lowest mark was 271.
The school scored a mean average of 383.47 points. The scores are an improvement from last year when the school had a mean grade of 371.
According to Opuodho, the approach is an individualised mentorship programme that involves offering emotional, psycho-social and financial support to students, especially those from vulnerable backgrounds.
“We identify children who are experiencing difficult home situations and we try to nurture them by uplifting their esteem and meeting their financial needs,” Opuodho said. “The child is clothed with love and compassion and this enables them to give their best.”
Each teacher is assigned five students whom they set targets for. The teachers then review the students’ performance after every assessment and guide students on areas where they need to improve.
One of the key strategies the programme employs is less emphasis on the students’ exemplary performance in exams and instead focusing on their ability to comprehend concepts.
This strategy, Opuodho says, enables the students to be competent learners even at later stages of education. “We do not pressure students to only pass their exams, rather we focus on teaching them concepts so that they can thrive in learning afterwards,” he said.
The school head intends to continue using the promising programme to prepare for future examinations and adapt it to fit the current Competency-Based Curriculum.