I am writing to share our celebration of our 8th graders’ national exam results and their send off to their first year of high school. The shining smiles of students and beaming faces of proud parents lit up our campus in February as we gathered together to celebrate the graduating class of 2015.
The celebration, which included a shared meal, dancing, and an award ceremony, celebrated the amazing progress and accomplishments of these young women over the past four years and their stellar performance on the National Exams. Our teachers provided encouragement and reassurance to the girls as they started high school. Our tribal elders reminded our girls to remember their community as they forge ahead.
The scores tell the story behind our celebration
There was indeed a great deal to celebrate for our 8th graders as they ended one chapter and began another. In Kenya, all 8th grade students take the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE) that determines high school placement. Students spend a considerable amount of time throughout their primary education preparing for this rigorous test with the dream of scoring 300 or above, which guarantees admission into a Kenyan National secondary school.
I’m proud to announce that every single student from the class of 2015 scored above the national average. This amazing accomplishment cannot be overstated. Our girls have a set a new standard of excellence at our school.
High school placement is the next hurdle
After exam results were announced, the high school application and enrollment process began. While high school placement is stressful for all families, we know that it is an even bigger hurdle for families who are going through this process for the first time. KCE works hand in hand with all of our families to navigate the placement process.
This year, the shortage of high school slots, including a shortage of national schools, was especially challenging this year, related to government quotas, an overcrowded educational system, and insufficient funding.
Although our girls far outperformed their peers in the district, only 6 of our 40 students were initially placed in high performing national high schools. This was unacceptable. We mobilized to enroll all 40 graduates in National and County-level schools. I commend my team on the ground in Kenya for their leadership, determination and pure grit in visiting multiple schools each day and traveling long distances to make it happen.
This year’s high school enrollment process underscored the urgent and growing need for academically rigorous high schools in Kenya. We are even more committed to building a new high school in Enoosaen that will ensure our girls are able to remain in a high quality school and reach their full potential. By 2018, we plan to begin enrolling our first class of high school students at a new K-12 school near our current campus.
As the class of 2015 embarks on their new journey, we are confident that KCE has prepared them for the challenges that lie ahead. These young women are no longer limited by the boundaries facing so many other girls in Kenya and around the world.
Be on the lookout for these girls as they make changes in their own lives and our world!
Kakenya Ntaiya, PhD
Founder & President, Kakenya Center for Excellence