Magazine / Promotions
Thursday, 22 Jun 2017 18:38 EATabdirahmancajab@gmail.com
A Wajir private primary school is celebrating sixteen years since its founding with immense satisfaction following its success as an academic centre of excellence. The Shibli Star Integrated Academy, which was founded in January 2001, is among the top private schools in the entire northern Kenya, competing head-to-head with more reputable institutions from Nairobi and other top cities.
When the Kenya Free Press visited the school for a talk with its principal manager, Mr Ali Omar Adan, what came out was a story of hard work and perseverance. "I started the school with three pupils; now I have 500. It was a long journey for me but now I am celebrating the good performance shown by the pupils," he said, putting the school's current enrolment at 314 boys and 186 girls.
In discussing the philosophy that guides his stewardship of the school, Mr Adan said. "There is one quote I love and I always share with my students, particularly in assembly gatherings, a quote by Jean Piaget which says, 'The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things'. It speaks to the kind of people we endavour to produce in this institution."
The principal said that the first time the school posted students for the KCPE examination was 2010, and they realised a mean score of 266.80. Five years later, this had gone up by nearly 60 percentage points. Last year, the school posted a mean of 320.92 marks, its second best result since its founding, as shown in the table below.
This performance was second only to the one of 2015, when each of their 35 candidates passed the examination "with flying colors. Our last pupil obtained 252 marks. We were leading in languages in the whole county, and a good number of our pupils went to national school.s," he explained.
The school's good performance has saw a number of girls from this marginalised region access high quality education in national schools. Since the school was started 19 girls have been admitted to different national schools, said the principal, attributed his achievement to "the help of God, the teachers and parents together."
Among the challenges he has confronted is increased demand for space. Given the school's constantly good grades, enrollment continues to go up, with many parents seeking opportunities for their children. So far, he has been able to cope, what with the infrastructural changes they make in the school each year. "I highly welcome any parent who wants quality education for their sons and daughters," said, expressing the institution's open doors.
Just like with other schools, Shibli Star Academy has also encountered challenges affecting its students, such as the hash environment. Some parents also don't cooperate with teachers as required in tracking student performance. There have been cases whereby some students bring mobile phones to the school. But none of the issues is as challenging as parents running huge fee balances at the end of academic years.
"There is a notion out there that private schools are not affected by defaults in fees payments. Some of our parents don't pay school fees on time, but at the end of each month we are supposed to pay the teaches, run school affairs and meet our obligations to other parties including support staff," he said.
Mr Adan also wants parents to do more in educating their children in all speheres of life, including on ethical conduct. He said that, according to Ministry of Education guidelines, teachers are supposed to provide ony about 25 percent to the student knowledge while students bring in 75 percent. However, with the current 'digital' students, they expect teachers to fully provide 100 percent.
"Parents must ensure their sons and daughters performe well in terms of education. But what we sometimes witness is a case where parents are not much concerned about their kids; they only complain once the result is not favouring them." He wants parents to show extra effort so that the children performed well.
Among the factors that have led to the school's good performance is the management's enforcement of rules for maintaining student discipline. "I celebrate without bragging that no child speaks mother tongue in the school compound. This has ensured our maintainence of high standards of the English and Kiswahili languages," said the educationist.
The school is also inculcating in the students life skills including verbal communication skills. "Currently, once a week, we visit one of the local radio stations, Wajir Radio, for the pupils to debate in live programs. The media has a great impact in the education sector, and in our case we have been grateful to the station manager Mrs Halima Kahiye for helping our students nurture their speaking and debating skills in the station."
On extracurricular activities, the school provides a number of after-class opportunities for the students to acquire valuable skills, including debating, drama and games. These contribute to the academic studies undertaken by the students.
The educationist said his school takes education of the girl child seriously, restating the popular maxim that, if you educate a boy, you educate one person, but if you educate a girl you educate a whole community. He said the school has tried its best to counsel parents against early marriages which contributes significantly to drop out rates of girls from schools in the region.
He said the issue should concern not only parents but community elders, security team and county education stakeholders to fight this vice until girl child education is improved.
Having witnessed a great improvement in education expansion in Wajir over the past decade, Mr Adan wants stakeholders to work hand in hand in order to boost the academic performance of schools in the region.
Abdirahman Rashid Farah is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Wajir County