When Ms Florence Muia, now a mother of seven decided to go back to school after 16 years into marriage, her peers dismissed her as a the “greatest joker of our time.”
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However, when the KCSE results were announced last Wednesday by Education CS George Magoha, Ms Muia, 36, became an instant sensation at her Nzulini village in Mwingi West, Kitui County.
Through sheer determination and hard work, Muia scored a C plus of 52 points, thereby hitting the university pass mark. And her joy is unmistakable. “I am impressed by my results. I was so anxious waiting for the results that I did not eat the whole day. I’m now looking forward to joining university,” Muia told Saturday Standard at her home.
She recalled the dark cloud that hang over her for two years after sitting KCPE in 1999 where she scored 483 marks out of a possible 700, topping her class. She was called to join Kimangao Girls Secondary School, one of the best performing schools in the larger Mwingi region.
But having been brought up in abject poverty in a region known for constant droughts, Muia watched as her chance of joining secondary school evaporated right in her eyes.
“I knew there was no way I would join secondary school, so after two years of sitting at home, I opted to get married,” she said. But her thirst for education kept burning inside her. And in 2016, when she was already a mother of five children and 16 years later, she decided to give education another shot. With full scholarship under the National Government Affirmative Action Fund, Muia enrolled at Nzulini Mixed Day Secondary School.
Here, she would juggle between taking care of her large family, domestic chores and her studies.
“It was challenging but I was determined. I would supervise my children through their school homework then launch into my books,” she explained.
She remembers the catcalls and odd looks she received from villagers and fellow students when she joined the school.
“The age difference between myself and fellow students was somehow a challenge. Some used to laugh at me but the teachers were supportive,” she said. Her focus, determination and discipline saw her being appointed a school prefect while in Form One. By the time she was sitting her KCSE, she was the school head girl.
She says her going back to school has been an inspiration to her children. Her first born sat KCPE this year and scored 338 marks. She thanked her husband for being supportive despite discouragement from neighbours and friends.
“Some often tell him he risks losing me for allowing me to go back to school but he is not bothered. He has been my pillar,” she said of her husband who is a mason.
Muia says her desire was to pursue Law at the university but hopes with her grade, she will land a worthwhile course.
“I believe education is the only thing that will remove my family from poverty and improve our lifestyle,” she said.
Kitui Woman Rep Irene Kasalu said Muia was picked for the scholarship due to her stellar performance in KCPE and her express desire to pursue education despite her age. She was also needy, Kasalu said.
“She showed a rare kind of resilience and determination and so we decided to give her a chance through education. We are elated,” the legislator said.
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