As pomp and celebrations hit schools in Kirinyaga after it was announced as the top county nationally in this year's KCPE, the neighbouring Murang’a county was mourning over poor performance by its schools. The county was placed at position 40 out of 47 counties in the country with a mean score of 232 marks despite producing the best candidate nationally last year.
Despite Murang’a being referred to by many as the ancestral land and political swing vote in Mt Kenya region, it was the worst performing county in the region. The county has in the late 90s performed excellently but education standards in the area have deteriorated, a situation largely blamed on alcoholism, drugs, illegal sect and absentee fathers. Murang’a has also been hit by rising crime rates, poverty and worrying suicide incidents mostly involving school-going children.
However, there were celebrations at St Paul Thomas Academy in Maragua that produced this year’s best candidate in Murang’a county. Master Muigo John Mwangi scored 427 marks out of a possible 500 marks emerging the best candidate. However Mwangi, 14, was far behind the leading candidates Nationally Christine Muthoni Kagiri from Tender Care Primary school and Irungu Martin Waiharo from Moi Education Centre who both tied with 442 marks.
The top candidate from the County also did not appear anywhere among the top students nationally. St Paul Thomas academy School principal Mr Fredrick Obonyo described Mwangi as an outstanding and aggressive pupil who since he joined the institution in 2008 had been among the leading pupils. Moments after Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri read out that Mwangi had emerged the top best candidate in the County the entire school went into celebrations.
Over excited teachers led by Obonyo broke out in songs and dance immediately the results were announced and took to the field celebrating the victory. “We are so delighted to have produced the best candidate in this area and about half of our students will be joining National and provincial schools, “said the principal.
Obonyo added that the school presented 126 students both boys and girls and added that last year the first student scored 415 marks. The principal attributed the success to change of teaching approach which involved going closer to address every individual pupil needs and challenges. “We change the teaching tactics from how we used to do in the previous years and the students were also dedicated even to work hard, “said the elated principal.
The school owned by Equity bank Chairman Peter Munga also teaches other subjects including aviation, fine arts and advanced computer studies. Mwangi who arrived at the school late in the evening accompanied by his parents attributed his success to hard work and assistance from his parents and the teachers. “I used to wake up at 4 am for my morning studies and the news of my good performance has not come as a surprise to me since I expected good results, “said the smiling Champion.
He added that he had always dreamt of joining Alliance High School and later on become a doctor. Mwangi’s mother Nelly Muigo said she was so excited by the news and added that they had expected him to perform better as he was a hardworking student. Mrs Muigo said her son had always dreamt of joining Alliance high School and thanked the teachers for the good work. Obonyo said they had targeted to have over 60 students scoring over 400 marks and by the time of filing the reports 26 candidates had already attained over 400 marks.
The school also emerged the best overall private institution in Murang’a and had presented 126 candidates for the test. Murang’a East district commissioner George Natembeya blamed lack of commitment by teachers for the poor performance in the area. The DC Said teachers have turned to private business and farming at the expense of teaching the student. “Even last year Murang’a performed poorly despite producing the best candidate and all the teachers are transferred to other areas the performance will not improve, “said Natembeya.
Last year, another school based in Maragua produced the best KCPE candidate as well as another one among the top 100 in Central region. Master Linus Ngatia from Trinity School in Maragua town led the pack with 434 marks out of a possible 500 while Karugu Kennedy Mburu also from the same school scored 420 marks and was ranked position 86 in Central. A total of 776,800 candidates sat for this year’s KCPE with Nakuru county leading with 38,167 candidates followed by Kiambu with 37,050.