Learners defied the odds to excel in 2023 KCPE examination

Makobeni Primary School Head Teacher, Janet Wanjiku [left] and her Deputy, Juma Bosso [right] celebrate with best student, Sera Tumu Mwamutsi in Kilifi County. She scored 371 marks in KCPE. November 24, 2023. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Several learners and schools across overcame extreme challenges to register impressive results in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams.

Some had to endure difficult learning environments and a lack of learning materials. Several candidates said they went through fire as they prepared for the exams.

In Nakuru, Christian Mwaniki, a 14-year-old pupil from St Peters Elite School in Gilgil, said he faced a myriad of challenges throughout her primary school education.

Mwaniki scored an impressive 402 marks. For the better part of his primary school life, he says he was always bottom three in class.

However, a change of mindset and hard work pushed him to the top, making him among the top performers in the region.

Mwaniki said some of his colleagues avoided him because of his poor performance. “They stopped talking to me. I became lonely. I almost lost my confidence,” he said.

He added: “I expected to score over 420 marks but I am happy with what I got. The challenges I faced were many and I am glad that I have come this far.” 

In Nyanza, several pupils from public schools with poor infrastructure also overcame several challenges as they prepared for the exams. 

The top pupil in the region, Felix Omondi Ochola,14, scored 426 marks. He told The Standard that their school, Rae Kanyaika Primary School, lacks basic infrastructure. They did not even have books.

The rural school in Kisumu East made the headlines after producing the top candidate in the region.

“I want to attribute these results to my teachers. They mentored me. Through their support and guidance, I have come this far. I am happy,” Ochola said.

In Migori, Hassan Yahya, 15, topped at Migori Primary School with 413 marks. His family background is poor and had to survive without so many things, sometimes not able to afford food.

The third born in a family of seven says his family could not afford books and pens and would sometimes sleep hungry.

He said his father, who hawks fruits, could not buy the books that were required in school.

Yahya, who wishes to join Mang’u High School and aspires to be a doctor, says hard work won it for him. “I worked hard because I want to change my family.”

“It is the poverty at home that pushed me to work hard. I hope to give my family a better life.”

Eric Kingiri,13, topped Moi Primary School, a public school in Nakuru, after scoring 421 marks despite coming from a humble background.

Kingiri, who joined the school in Standard Five, was unable to raise Sh16,000 in fees to enable him to join a boarding wing of the school.

His mother, Nancy Njoki, said the school wanted Kingiri to be in boarding but her family could not afford it.

“We solely depend on day-to-day hustle. I don’t have a job. My husband is jobless as well,” said Njoki.

She said their situation at home is so dire that they are struggling to take care of their four children.

Njoki said the school decided to chip in and offer some support, especially for Kingiri because of his great potential.

Kingiri said the challenges at home affected his studies. “There were times I would be so demoralized,” he said.

He, however, said support from parents and teachers made him study hard.

He topped the school, beating even those in the boarding wing of the school.

Kingiri, who hopes to join Alliance High School, said his has been a long journey. “I had to wake up very early and attend additional lessons during weekends.”

Moi Primary School Deputy Head Teacher Raymond Chepkwony described Kingiri as a bright, disciplined, and hardworking pupil.

He said Kingiri, who comes from a humble background, did not despair despite the challenges he faced. “And he has put our school on the map.”

In the flood-prone Nyando constituency, a number of pupils also overcame many challenges to excel.

At Nyandande Primary School, Grace Akoth scored 413 marks.

In Nyamira, schools supported by well-wishers and churches also went against the grain to register exemplary results.

St Andrews Kagwa, which is a public school sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Kisii, stunned perennial champions Eronge Adventist by producing the best two candidates in Nyamira County.

Felix Orina and Omboga Matonda, both from St Andrew’s Kagwa Boys, scored 423 and 422 marks respectively, dethroning Eronge Adventist who topped during the previous exams.

Kagwa had the biggest number of candidates scoring 400 marks and above at 44, while Eronge had 36.

In Naivasha, Antony Wesonga, an inmate serving a 30-year jail term for defilement at the Naivasha GK prison, scored 328 marks.

According to the officer in charge of the institution Hassan Tari, of the 21 inmates who sat for the exams, four scored over 300 marks.

Tari said this year’s performance was an improvement from previous exams. He noted that 15 inmates scored over 200 marks.

“We have seen a major improvement in the education sector in the prison and we shall continue to support it as it is turning out to be a game changer in the rehabilitation process,” he said.

Tari called for more support noting that the inmates do not have learning materials and qualified teachers.

[Daniel Chege, Anne Atieno and Stanley Ongwae]