Mercy Chepkorir, 40, is among the 19 per cent students who sat for the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam and qualified for university placement.
Despite the numerous challenges Ms. Chepkorir faced in her education journey, she is happy that she is among 173, 345 students who will join university to further their studies.
When we visited her home in Total area, Narok County, the middle-aged woman was still in a celebratory mood after she scored a C+ (plus) in the just released exam results.
She narrated her bitter education journey saying she dropped from school in the year 2001 after completing primary school as she failed to raise school fees to join secondary school.
“After completing my KCPE in 2001, my parents could not pool resources to educate me in secondary school as they were too poor,” she recalled bitterly.
This forced the young girl to remain at home helping her parents in the household chores as well as doing casual jobs to earn a living.
“During this time, I worked as a house girl and later as a casual labourer in the tea plantations so that I could raise money to feed my family,” she said.
However, during this period, she said, she had a deep passion for education and wished that one day she could go back to class and complete her form four education.
But her dream did not come to pass immediately as she was married at a tender age and later blessed with two children.
Her marriage did not last for long as her husband passed on when her children were still very young, making her life more difficult as she had to bring up her children singlehandedly.
“My husband was the breadwinner to my young family. He passed on when my children were about to join school making life more difficult for us,” she reiterated, recalling how she used to spend her entire day working at the tea plantations to earn a living.
Just before the onset of Covid-19, Ms. Chepkorir decided to go back to school to quench her deep burning desire for education.
Even though her move was not celebrated by many, she recalled, she had to follow her passion of going back to class despite her old age in order to pursue a degree in Community Development.
“I went back to school after almost 20 years old. This time round, I had a responsibility of keeping tubs on my children who were now teenagers, providing for their needs and revising,” she said.
At some time, she was forced to work in a quarry, where she spent most of her day crushing stones in order to provide for her family.
“I used to sleep late in the night and wake up early in the morning in order to revise for the exams. My teachers and fellow students were of great help to me,” she said.
Ms. Chepkorir believes that her good performance will motivate her children, who are now in secondary school, to study hard so that they can score better marks than their mother.
Dr. Joshua Kimanzi, the principal of Nacace High school, where Ms. Chepkorir was a student confessed, she was a humble woman who put a lot of effort in education.
Kimanzi said despite her struggle to pay school fees, she was focused and engaged the teachers whenever she was facing any problem in her classwork.
The school, which is an adult learning center had 45 students who scored a mean grade of 7.9 points.
Samuel Leyian, who worked at the quarry with Ms. Chepkorir said he was shocked and at the same time excited by her performance.
“At first, I thought they were joking. For Ms. Chepkorir to score a C+ is an encouragement to some of us who did not complete their secondary education. She used to spend most of the time at the quarry yet she passed very well,” he said.
Data from the Ministry of Education shows that the number of students joining university from last year’s exam has risen from 145, 776 (2021) to 173, 345 students in 2022.
By Ann Salaton