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Jamhuri High: Story of one of the oldest schools in the city a century later

By Amos Kareithi | May 11th 2021

The release of national exams has always been an exciting moment for candidates, their parents, and definitely their schools. 

The joy of triumphing over the examination giant is immeasurable. Those who qualify to proceed to the next level can afford to dream of a bright future.

Jamhuri High Students checking exam results in 1977. [File, Standard]

In this 44-year-old picture taken at Jamhuri High School in Nairobi, the anxiety is evident on the faces of the students as they pore over a list of candidates and how they performed. It was taken at a time when there was no internet and mobile phones were unheard of, in this part of the world.

In 1977, secondary school certificate examinations were a communal affair. Immediately after the Minister for Education released the examination results, a list of all the candidates would be quickly typed, then pasted on the school’s noticeboard for anyone to peruse them. 

The victors were feted while those who did not perform melted into the background. There was a time too, when Cambridge was in charge of the examinations and top candidates’ results would be published in the local dailies.

Jamhuri High was not an ordinary school for it carries the history of racial relations and the British aristocrats. It also nurtured the aspirations of many captains of Kenya’s industry from the day it was conceived as a nursery school for Indian children in 1904.

There was a time it was known as Railway Educational Centre but when Nairobi’s population grew, it was detached from the railway. It was also elevated from an elementary school into Government Indian High School, exclusively catering to boys.

Its fortunes changed in 1952 when Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, developed a keen interest in 1950 and started promoting it. In recognition of his contribution, the school adopted his name, and it became the Duke of Gloucester in 1953.

Predictably, when Kenya attained independence in 1963, this school which has shaped the lives of thousands of city boys was “baptised” Jamhuri High School, a name it retains to date. And for the 117 years, it has been in existence, the school has made a name in academics and sporting fields.  


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