Why Baringo’s Kabarnet High is ‘school of excellence’

Baringo, Kenya: Christened ‘School of Excellence’ Boys High School by current and old boys, Government African Schools Kabarnet Boys in Baringo County has over the years lived up to its slogan by maintaining its position as the best public school in the county.

Established in 1963, the school’s unique architecture and history pushed it to grace the Sh10 note. Academic excellence and the privilege of being the school where former President Moi studied and taught also set the school apart.

In last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, the school topped the county in the public schools category and came second overall behind Sacho High School.

During the 1980s, many of its students made it directly to university. Since then, it has maintained its pace and upgraded its status. It was recently given county status, an elevation that was informed by its performance, facilities and structures.

Also elevated was Kapropita Girls and this ‘promotion’ has pitted the two schools against each other in competing for excellence.

Kabarnet High School principal, Julius Mambili, says the school’s good performance is due to discipline among students, co-operation between parents and teachers, and hard work.

“I am delighted with last year’s results. We attained 85 per cent success as we sent 92 students directly to university and this year, we want the lowest-performing student to get no less than C-plus,” says Mambili.

“Achieving a mean of 8.37 up from 7.9 the previous year is no mean feat and despite our being a public school, we want to target more points to make it to the top ten nationally in this year’s examinations as we have an able class,” he adds.

The sky is the limit for the school, which Mambili says provides the best conditions for any student willing to do well.

No student has ever been suspended for indiscipline so far as they “are God-fearing and hardworking” according to the head teacher.

A cool and serene learning environment also contributes to the students’ success. The trees and hills are enough to strengthen a tired mind and encourage any student to work harder.

The students are inspired by alumni who have excelled in various professions and who are often invited to the school to give motivational talks aimed at inspiring the students to excel like they have.

Kabarnet High has, however, had some challenges that saw academic performance drop to the extent that it almost lost its glory. In September 2011, property worth millions of shillings was destroyed after a night fire razed down an administration block. This has since been repaired and restored to its original charm.

The school’s performance was also affected in the early 1990s due to regular change of school heads.

Between 2000 and 2004, for instance, the school had five heads, making it difficult for the students to adjust to the new management styles and sometimes even making them rebellious to the detriment of their studies.

To avert more instability, the teachers sat down and guided the students in an attempt to make them academically focused and more disciplined.

In 2008, the school had a mean score of 7.3 and send 20 students made it to the university directly; 2009 saw a mean score of 7.9 and 45 students qualified for university. In 2011, they had mean score of 8.2 and sent 68 students to the university.