They scored grade E in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams after spending at least four years in secondary school.
In Kenya, grade E is considered a death sentence in one’s academic and career life — and often attracts scorn from friends and even family. Those who score grade E are seen as failures in life.
While others opt to continue their studies by bridging subjects they failed, many resort to keeping off anything to do with books, and will avoid mentioning their educational backgrounds in public. But it is this ‘pariah’ status that inspired a few individuals to form the Kenya ‘E’ Graders Association group to bring together those who scored the ‘feared’ grade in KCSE.
“We formed the group in 2015. Many students have been scoring Es in KCSE, and the number is increasing every year. Sadly, many of us have been ignored, which is why we came together so that we can have a platform on which to share our good and bad times, while planning for our future,” the group’s chair Ayub Simba Njagi told The Nairobian.
He added that, “Many of us who scored grade E have not been given a chance to explore our talents by society. This is where our association comes in. We want them to become useful people in society.”
Njagi, 33, sat for his KCSE exams in 2011.
“Life became hard when my mother died in 1998. I performed best in English, in which I scored D- (minus). I however failed in the rest of the subjects thus the grade. I also scored an E in my KCPE,” he explains.
“I sat down and researched on how people like me move forward in life. I shared my findings with colleagues, who assisted me to come up with the association’s constitution before registering it. To join the group one pays Sh200 for lifetime membership,”Njagi explained. The group wrote to the National Youth Service (NYS) director asking that some of their members be absorbed into NYS programmes to help them make a living. However, NYS never responded to their letter.