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Dreams hang in balance for bright Form One students stranded over school fees


 Form four students revise in their class at Simat Secondary School. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Today, about one million learners that sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam last year are expected to join Form One in secondary schools across the country.

In keeping with the government's 100 per cent transition policy, it is expected that the 1,233,852 learners will report to schools they were placed in through a selection process.

But as many join the schools of their dreams, another group of learners is uncertain of what the future holds for them should help not come their way.

Weeks after celebrating good performance in KCPE, after beating all odds stacked against them, a number of learners are stuck at home, struggling to raise money for school fees and other requirements to join Form One.

Take the case of Allocious Kipkorir, a leaner from Nandi county, who scored 409 marks and was selected to join Friends School Kamusinga. By yesterday, the former pupil at Patrician primary school in Kapseret, Uasin Gishu county, was only armed with a box and a Bible and doesn't know what to do to raise Sh 53,554 fees and meet other expenses.

His parents are contemplating taking him to a day school instead but Kipkorir insists that he must join a national school that matches his performance. "I want to be a doctor in future and I appeal to well-wishers to support my dreams," said Kipkorir, a second born in a family of nine.

His mother Edinah Chepkemei said applications for scholarships have so far failed. "We will only rely on good Samaritans to support our son proceed to secondary school," said Chepkemei at the family's one-room simple structure in Ngoroin village, Mosop.

Twins Lucky Kipruto and Gian Kiptoo warmed many hearts with their story, posting 404 and 403 marks respectively. The boys were selected to join St Josephs's Boys school Kitale.

While Kiptoo was lucky to get a scholarship from the Trans-Nzoia County government and Kenya Commercial Bank, Kipruto's fate hangs in the balance as he is yet to get the financial aid he needs to join his brother.

In Nairobi, Joy Wairimu Kariuki's joy at being selected to join Kathiani Girls High School in Machakos county, is fading. The 14-year-old sat her exams at Daima Primary School and scored 385 out of 500 marks. Her primary education has not been easy sailing and often, Wairimu missed classes or arrived late because of doing odd jobs to earn some money to support her schooling.

From collecting and disposing of garbage to cleaning people's homes, the girl defied the odds to excel in KCPE exam. ''I have been to school through the hard way. I used to pick up garbage from people's doors and dump it very early in the morning to prepare for classes. This was at a fee of Sh50 per week per door,'' Wairumu says as she recounts her tough journey through her primary education.

She is the third born in a family of six that was raised along city streets. The family currently lives in Kiamaiko slums along the banks of the Nairobi River. Her mother, Wacera Gachie, does casual jobs. What Wacera earns is barely enough for the family's food. Her husband identified as Juma, deals in used plastics. The family is expected to raise Sh53, 554 as school fees, Sh20,540 for school uniform and another Sh18,000 for shopping.

A similar predicament is facing Mitchelle Anyango, an orphan who scored 376 marks. The 14-year-old sat her exams at Madungu Primary, Siaya county and has been selected to join Rang'ala Girls High School where the fee is beyond her reach. She is expected to raise Sh40, 535 for tuition and an additional Sh10,000 extra levy towards infrastructure development. Besides, Anyango needs money for her personal needs like shopping.

Form One learners are expected to report to school between February 6 and 13th.

For Mathew Josphat Wandabwa, his hopes of joining Mangu High School seem to be diminishing. He schooled at St. Thomas School, Chepareria, where he scored 399 marks. The boy enrolled at Chepareria Primary School before proceeding to St. Thomas secondary where he got a scholarship for two years from teachers sympathetic to his situation.

The family of five leads a hands-to-mouth life. Mary Wandabwa, Josphat's mother says they have tried all means to raise the required school fees in vain. ''I have two of his siblings in day secondary school and I am struggling to raise their fees of about Sh20,000," says Wandabwa.

Ruth Waruguru Kamau, 14, from Ndeiya in Kiambu County scored 342 marks at Mirithu Primary School. She was called to join Mugumu girls in Kerugoya but her parents decided to get a nearby Sacred Heart Girls High School in Mirithu.

Still, her family is unable to support her through high school because of their financial status. The Sh 46,000 needed as school fees is beyond reach for her 50-year-old father, weighed down by injuries he got from an early accident that fractured his legs.

Kamau's wife, Leah Wambui, 38, is a casual labourer in Nderu village where she washes clothes. She revealed that the family resolved to take Waruguru's two sisters to day secondary schools, though they had qualified to join national schools. Waruguru told The Standard that she aspires to become a lawyer in future. "I have not given up even as my parents struggle to educate me, I believe there will be a way; I really would want to become a lawyer," said Waruguru.

Speaking during the Form One Selection, Education CS Ezekiel Machogu said all ministry officials will be expected to file accurate daily returns on the status of reporting to schools to ensure the government policy of 100 per cent transition is achieved.

''National administrative arms will work with county and sub-county education officials to ensure that no child is locked out of secondary education owing to factors removed from their ability to access education,'' said Machogu.

The government applied affirmative action and admitted some 270 students from slums to national schools. The Ministry of Education has been offering support to needy students through the Elimu scholarship. These efforts are further complemented by other scholarships from various organisations, which collectively rolled out an Sh10.1 billion bailout.

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