During the 2007-08 post-election violence, Elimu Academy, then located at Chepilat, was looted and torched. The school was later relocated to Kisii town by the directors and renamed The Elimu School.
The school management has for two years now involved the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in holding elections and training pupils on various aspects of the election process at a young age.
“We suffered during the post election violence firsthand. We know the effects of violence occasioned by disputed elections, that is why we want to inculcate the culture of democracy, free will and free ideas in the pupils at early age,” said director Andrew Kombo.
The pupils elect their representatives unlike before when teachers used to appoint reps.
“We have seen a change when pupils elect their own representatives. This should be adopted in all schools because these are future voters,” Kombo told the Star at the school.
In the election, which was a replica of the national elections, those contesting went through a nomination process and successful candidates were allowed a campaign period which ended a day to the polls.
The school has a population of 850 pupils from baby class to standard eight.
“To be eligible to vote, you must be in class four and above. That is equivalent to attaining 18 years to vote in Kenya,” Kombo noted.
During the election day, the candidates appointed agents and the school nominated observers who voted before other students to enable them engage in their duties.
Just like in the general elections, the ballot papers had the candidates name, picture and a box for one to tick. Classes were turned into polling stations and a tallying centre, which was manned by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials.
The positions up for grabs included Mr President, Madam President, Governors in charge of the five houses, Members of Class Assemblies and senators in charge of dining, entertainment, spiritual and sanitation. “Last year, we had a female student as a running mate but this time, girls felt that they should have their own president,” Kombo said.
Those elected during the hotly contested elections were Prudence Ogoti (Madam President), Nicole Ong’eta (Deputy Madam President), Benford Nyandoro (Mr President), Meshack Onsare (Deputy Mr President).
The governors elected were Allan Ratemo (Koffi Annan House), Alloys Nyabuto (Barrack Obama House), Elizabeth Auma (Winnie Mandela House), Oliver Matwetwe (Graca Machel House), and Lucy Onderi (Michelle Obama House).
The senators elected were Ignatius Mong’are (Dining Hall), Blair Getonto (Spiritual), Kevin Ragira (Games), Sylvester Mokua (Entertainment), Shammamoh Orito (Sanitation).
Ogoti, who floored two other candidates to win the seat, had initially raised issues about the process. “I’m happy I won. Initially my agents raised issues that the process was not fair in one stream but it was addressed. I want to be president of Kenya one day,” she said.
Returning officer Cosmas Nyabala said:
“Democracy should not be imposed on the people but nurtured. We nurture democracy from primary school. We want a society free of corruption and election malpractices.”
Nyabala said was free and fair. “These youngsters have exercised their rights in an environment oblivious of chaos like what they see on TV,” he added.
IEBC official in charge of Nyaribari Chache Bernard Chieng’a, who oversaw the elections, said all primary and secondary schools should emulate Elimu and conduct elections.
“The management of schools should open doors for us to teach students on elections and also oversee their elections,” Chieng’a told the Star.
He said on October 26, they conducted elections for St Paul’s Amasago’s student’s council.
Chieng’a said once they are invited to schools, they start by conducting civic education. “We teach the pupils on the entire electoral process from campaigning to the actual voting.”