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Candidate conquers extreme poverty to excel in KCPE

Kioko demonstrates how he used to do his studies using a small kerosene lamp in his dingy room. Photo by Lucy Wangai

For young Raphael Kioko, no amount of challenge could come between him and succeeding in his KCPE examination as he went against all odds to beat poverty,hunger and distance to get the best mark in public schools in Thika East Sub-County.

The diminutive 14 year old boy emerged the top in 2018’s KCPE examination in Kilimambogo zone after attaining 394 points in one of the oldest public primary schools in the area.
He narrated how he used to walk for close to seven kilometres every morning on an empty stomach to get to school from his slum home in Mukunike village.

Young Kioko revealed to KNA how he used to leave home before 5am,walk through a seven kilometer stretch valley infested with snakes and hippos to be in school at 7am to make it for morning preps.

“I had devised a method of camouflaging myself whenever I met killer Hippos as I walked to school every morning and I thank God that I never had a confrontation with them but I have managed to kill several snakes on my way to school”, Kioko narrated to KNA smiling.

The boy whose dream school is Mang’u High narrated how he once used a burning flame to do his evening preps and homework but his books got burnt in the process, a scenario that pushed him to open up to his class teacher about his struggle with getting education.

Kioko who wants to become an engineer after completing his secondary school education is said to be very innovative and is always at hand to fix his neighbors household appliances with a lot of precision.

His long time class teacher and friend Norman Kimotho took up the challenge of helping young Kioko with his basic requirements which included giving him a cup of tea and bread in the morning at least to sustain him through his studies.

“Kioko was the school captain from standard six, a duty he undertook diligently without much supervision. This endeared him to the rest of the teaching staff who together with the school head teacher approached a children’s organization Watoto Wenye Nguvu who took up his case and started providing him with text books, uniforms, detergents and tissue papers to at least keep him in school,” narrated teacher Kimotho.

Kimotho pointed out that Kioko was very consistent in his performance as he was always leading in the class and despite coming from a very humble background and sometimes going without food,he always maintained an infectious smile.

Kimotho maintained that he was sure that if Kioko was in a better environment than the one he was at he would have scored more marks than he did as he was a brilliant genius focused and committed to success.

This writer visited the humble background where Kioko lives with his casual

labourer father Joseph Muthini and his mother Anne Mbithe and his younger sister who could not hide their joy for their son’s exemplary performance.

The father pointed out that his son was bright and very committed to his education but he feels he might not continue with his secondary school education as with his meager earnings of 300 shillings a day, he may not be able to push him any further.

He said that Kilimambogo is semi-arid and nothing grows on their small parcel of land to substitute his earning and for them to bring up the young family they have to hustle with his wife every day to at least give the two children one meal a day.

He was very grateful to Watoto Wenye Nguvu children’s association for supporting his first born son and appealed to well wishers to come in and help the young boy pursue his Secondary school education.

School’s head James Maina explained that Kilimambogo Primary School bears the biggest burden of educating children from very humble backgrounds and sometimes girls have had to drop out of school to get married as they could not continue attending classes without the basics.

The fact that there are lot of casual laborers around here as a result of the giant Fruit Company Delmonte and over five quarries, just a few metres from the school our students sometimes drop out of school to be employed while girls drop out and get married very young.

“This year,we had to bring back 5 girls to do their KCPE after they took off and got married, I am however very grateful to the local administration for their support as together we have managed to ensure that any child who drops out of school for whatever purpose is pursued

and brought back to school,” he concluded.

By Lucy Wangai

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