Our next stop is Meru School, a National High School located in Meru County, Kenya. I have been hearing the term National School a lot so I am curious to learn the difference between a National High School and one considered not a National High School. I am told this:
A National School is:
- Government Sponsored
- KCPE exam scores are higher (KCPE is the exam given in Grade 8 to determine placement in high school)
- Students are from all over the country
- Better facilities
- Competition is high
- Students are more ambitious and focused
We currently have two students at Meru School, Kena (Form 4) and Ayub (Form 1). I have spent time with both boys during KURA’s Mentorship Programs. Kena is from the village of Logologo and Ayub from Korr. I have a particular fondness for Kena as he happens to be one of the kindest young men I have encountered and is also a student I personally sponsor. Ayub is from the village of Korr and a very well liked young man as well.
While driving to Meru we discover there is problem. There has been a strike at the school. We learn the school has been closed by the administration and the students have been sent home. Through the grapevine we hear many students are disgruntled because of the new headmaster’s rules and policies. Sadly, we will miss our visit to Meru School and our chance to see Kena and Ayub.
We continue our journey onto Chigoria Girls School, another National School located in Tharaka Nithi County on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya. A year ago Chigoria was noted as being the best school in the county with 21 students scoring straight A’s and 104 earning A- on their KCSE exams (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) taken at the completion of Secondary Education. Here we will visit the headmistress and three KURA students, Veronica (Form 2), Adiyahiso (Form 2) and Gumato (Form 1).
At this time of year exams are given universally though out the Kenyan schools so we meet with the headmistress while we wait for a break in between exams. The headmistress proudly shares Chigoria Girls has a 90% graduation rate with many girls going off to university. The good news for students fortunate enough to attend secondary school in Kenya is if they graduate with a C+/B- average, the Kenyan government will send the student a list of Kenyan Universities they can attend with financial assistance available. The most precarious time for young people in Kenya is secondary school when poor families cannot afford to pay the fees required for their children. Many are left behind in their villages with no opportunity to improve their lives or their families’ lives.
After a short wait, the girls greet us. They are as excited to see me, as I am to see them. Hugs are passed and I sit down to hear how school is going . They each tell me they are happy and doing well. Academically they are all doing average work but are working hard to improve.
Veronica’s favorite subject is English and she is a member of the school’s Red Cross Club. Her dream is pursue a career in Veterinary Science. Adiyahiso is an avid football/soccer player for the school and Gumato’s favorite subject is Biology.
While each write a letter to their respective sponsors, I am introduced to a teacher who heads up the school’s mentoring program. She is aware of the need to have a place where girls can share their worries and concerns. She checks in with our girls individually and also heads up group meetings every other Wednesday to discuss topics such as peer influence, self- esteem, adolescence and loss.
It was an enjoyable visit with these fun girls. I leave them comfortable knowing they are well taken care of, happy and getting a great education.
As we continue our journey north to Samburu, we receive word from Ayub. He is heading home to Korr because of the strike at Meru School but would like to see us. He lets us know he will wait for us in Archers Post.
After a couple hours of driving, we reach Archers Post and meet Ayub along side of the road. He hops in the vehicle and we get a chance to catch up. He fills us in on the strike at the school but is not fully aware of the details. However he tells me he is very happy at Meru School and that his favorite subject is Biology. He also tells me that his best friend at school is fellow KURA Project student, Kena. This young man warms my heart.
The KURA Project believes education is the smartest investment one can make. When children like Kena, Ayub, Veronica, Adiyahiso and Gumato are educated, they will be able to contribute to the development of their communities and transform not only their lives but the lives of their families.
Hadi wakati mwingine (Until next time)