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Secrets of Nairobi’s top teachers and students

The big three secrets of success in national examinations can be revealed.

They are: hard work, discipline and close cooperation between students, teachers and parents.

In a series of interviews, the county’s top students and their principals spoke of what drove them to succeed in last year’s KCSE examination.

Angela Nzisa Kivuva, Kenya’s top girl who sat the exams at Moi High School, Kabarak, attributed her success to hard work and commitment.

Opportunities explored

“Success does not come on a silver platter. It is about hard work and commitment,” said Nzisa, a former student of Makini school before she joined Kabarak two years ago.

Speaking at her family’s home in Lavington, Nzisa, who was the nation’s third best candidate, said she wanted to be a gynaecologist.

And Nora Chelangat, top student at Precious Blood Riruta and fourth in the country, attributed her success to obedience and being inquisitive.

“I was always asking questions. This broadened my scope on issues I was expected to learn. I am also an obedient girl. If my teachers told me to do extra sums or write extra compositions, I would exactly do that,” she said.

She said prayers also played a part in her sterling performance.

The school’s principal Jacinta Akatsa said it took them meticulous planning to post the good results.

“We did a lot of analysis on strengths and weaknesses of the school together with the board of governors. We explored opportunities and strengths and encouraged discipline and confidence in our students,” said Mrs Akatsa.

The teachers’ sacrifice crowned it all, she added.

For Brenda Biwott, who sat the examination at Kenya High and was ranked the third best girl in the country, support from her teachers and parents contributed to her success.

“I was expecting to be in the top 100 but never knew it would be this good,” said the girl who wants to be a neurosurgeon.

“I cannot thank my parents and teachers enough for what they have made me achieve.”

Kenya High principal Rosemary Saina said the policy of balancing academic work with extra-curricular activities had improved results.

“It is not about concentrating on the academics alone. There is so much more to education than just books. Fifty five students scored straight As while 77 have A-s,” Mrs Saina added.

Mr John Muthiora, principal of Strathmore School, which was second in Nairobi and seventh nationally, attributed the school’s invincibility in mathematics and English to its teaching method.

Weaker students

“We are happy to be ranked number one in mathematics in the country. It is the third time in a row,” he said.

“About 40 per cent of English at secondary school is composition writing. That is why we place emphasis on teaching students how to write well. Literature plays a big role and our students are taught to appreciate all dimensions of literature to make them enjoy English.” 

One of the candidates, Ian Odhiambo, applauded what he described as a unique yet effective teaching style.

“The teachers are great. They give you content in the most basic and effective way. The good study environment has also played a big role in my success , not forgetting the resourceful library,” he said.

 The principal said a lot of focus was put on weaker students so they did not pull down the mean score.

“Students and teachers have a positive attitude towards mathematics and the teachers focus on weak students. It is about teaching students to believe in themselves,” said Mr Muthiora.

Nairobi School Deputy principal Loise Ndegwa said the good results were the result of discipline, determination and zeal. Two candidates, Brian Osoro and Calvin Mwadime were number five and seven in the national rankings respectively.