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How we made it: Nyambaria's long road to limelight

 Nyambaria Principal Charles Onyari at his office. [Stanley Ongwae, Standard]

The rise of Nyamira County's Nyambaria High School to academic limelight has been a long journey that took many years to plan.

Chief Principal Charles Onyari says the school has over the years tried its best but suffered shocks of defeat from lower schools.

The school's bold transformation started with former Maranda High School principal Boaz Owino. Stakeholders of the school, including Mr Onyari, praise Mr Owino for creating a foundation that placed the school on a path to success.

"Together, we put place mechanisms and favourable grounds for good performance. The results can now be seen," said Board of Management chairman Lazarus Momanyi.

Mr Onyari, who took over after Mr Owino retired in July last year, said the former principal instilled a major culture change.

"I thank my predecessor whose efforts are part of what this school is celebrating today," Onyari said. Mr Owino, a decorated administrator, joined the school in 2017 and only last year left after attaining the age of 60.

During his farewell party in September last year, Mr Owino said he was happy he had set firm grounds that would enable the school to thrive.

"It has taken me four years to make this school what it should be going forward. I am retiring very happy that my dream will be realised by my predecessor in whom I have confidence as I retire," Mr Owino said.

And indeed, the results in this year's Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education(KCSE) are a true reflection of Owino's words and wish. The institution recorded a mean standard score of 10.89 to emerge the top school in the country.

Previously, Nyambaria had struggled against extra county and county schools in Nyamira and rarely did it rise above the Gusii region against arch-rivals like the neighbouring Kisii School.

Onyari says the school has been on an upward trajectory from a mean of 8.6 to the current 10.9.

In te 2021 exams, Nyambaria recorded a mean of 9.1 behind St Kizito Nyansiongo Boys that scored 9.37, Kebirigo Boys which closely followed with a mean of 9.30, and St Peter's Nyakemincha which had a mean of 9.2.

In 2020, the institution recorded a mean of 8.6 behind Nyakemincha, Kebirigo and Sironga. According to Mr Onyari, teamwork by all departments of the school helped the institution to emerge tops.

"We have been one big team playing in a game in which we have beaten everyone. We were focused and we all maintained level eyes on attaining better grades than we have ever had before and indeed God answered our prayers," Onyari said.

He also attributed the fete to unrelenting cooperation between parents, teachers and non-teaching staff who worked within targets. "Everyone in the school played their role to near perfection but above all, our whole dependence on God enabled us realise these results," Dr Momanyi said.

Nyambaria was established 50 years ago as a Seventh-Day Adventist extra-county school. Its status changed to a national school about 10 years ago.

Currently, the institution has 2,000 learners. In 2022, all 550 candidates who were enrolled for the year's KCSE transitioned to university. The 2022 KCSE is a moment of glory for not only Nyambaria but also many schools in the Gusii region.

The region had best performing school in the country even as most of its former academic giants and little-known schools put up a good show.

For instance, Cardinal Otunga High School Mosocho, St Marys Nyamagwa, St Paul's Gekano, Nyansiongo Boys, Nyabururu Girls and another former academic powerhouse Riokindo Boys posted model results of 10.76, 8.823, 9.95, 9.0, 8.63 and 7.83 means, respectively.

Rigoko Day Secondary in Borabu, Nyamira County, had all its 52 students getting university grades. The school had a mean of 9.0.

Principal Zablon Nyangena says they prepared the students fully. "We have for years been trying to figure out what ails the school. Our students, despite being under pressure, showed discipline and dedication."

At the St Thomas Moore Riang'ombe, 61 students got above C (plus). The school had registered 87 candidates and attained a mean score of 7.1.

Not far from the school is St Gonzaga Goza Isoge Secondary School with a mean of 9.8706. Here, 19 students scored grade B (plain) which was the lowest in the school. And 58 had a B (plus) with eight attaining grade A (minus).

In Bonchari, Kisii, is St Paul's Igonga Secondary. With 118 candidates, the school posted a mean of 10.24 emerging the second best school in Kisii and top five in Nyanza. The school recorded a minimum grade of a B (plain).

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