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Covid-19 helped me excel, says KCSE top pupil from Kilifi

The 17-year-old says that the Covid-19 lockdown was a big boost for her success

In Summary
  • In 2007, Shirley Nadzua scored 440in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).
  • She says her efforts during the Covid-19 period helped her gain ground on the content that has bypassed her while in class. 
Shirley Nadzua, a Kilifi native who scored an A
Shirley Nadzua, a Kilifi native who scored an A
Image: STEVE MOKAYA

When the KCPE exam results for 2017 were announced, Shirley Nadzua made headlines for being among the top 15 candidates.

She scored 440, just 15 marks shy of the top student. She emerged number 12 nationally.

Four years later, Nadzua, a Kilifi native has emerged among the top students in the 2021 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam.

She scored an A with 81 aggregate points. She was a student at Kenya High School.

The 17-year-old said the Covid-19 lockdown was a big boost for her success.  

"I am really grateful for the Covid pandemic. That lockdown helped me because I had enough time to catch up. I cleared my academic backlog and made the best out of the lockdown," she said.

In March 2020, all schools in Kenya were closed to curb the spread of Covid-19 and they would remain closed until January 2021.

During that time, Nadzua said, her school organised online exams and lessons.

She says being in school during the Covid-19 pandemic and having little time to cover a lot of work came with its share of pressure, but in retrospect, it was worth the effort.

"I spent long hours. It was hard but I had to move on. I'm glad God rewarded my efforts," she said. 

At some point, she was moved out of her class and taken to another. That dealt her a blow, as she left all her classmates and went to join a different class with different teachers. 

"I felt bad leaving the rest behind but again everything works for a reason. I formed discussion groups with my new classmates and we exchanged great ideas that led to our success," she said.

In 2017, she thought of being a neurosurgeon. However, she has since gotten new priorities and studying medicine does not feature in her list.

"High school exposed me to more careers and I realised that there are many more things that I love. I now want to do a course in statistics and programming or biotechnology because I love Mathematics," she said.

Nadzua's mother, Karembo Mweni is elated with her daughter's performance. She acknowledges her daughter is brilliant, but God enabled her to achieve good grades.

"It is one thing to be bright and a different thing to pass exams. I thank God for her victory," she said.

Mweni reveals her daughter got sick in her last year of high school and was under regular medical attention.

"She became sick, developed asthma attack and other complications. Sometimes it worried me a lot. I'm happy she finished her exams well and passed. I'm blessed," the mother said.

In the KCSE exam 2021, there was a total of 1,138 As. Boys scooped 789 and the girls 349. 

(Edited by Tabnacha O)

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