Bensouda disowns class of 2015 for ‘poor performance’

There were high expectations that our 2015 candidates would do much better.

Sunday January 10 2016

No sooner had I arrived home than several parents came to see me. They all wanted to know how their children had performed. I tried reaching Bensouda. After several attempts, she called back. I asked her if she had picked the exams results. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH

No sooner had I arrived home than several parents came to see me. They all wanted to know how their children had performed. I tried reaching Bensouda. After several attempts, she called back. I asked her if she had picked the exams results. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH 

By MWALIMU ANDREW
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Following our school’s amazing performance in 2014 KCPE when we had an unbelievable and enviable mean score of 203.7, there were high expectations that our 2015 candidates would do much better. Other than the teachers’ strike — which affected all pupils countrywide, there were no other disruptions to the school calendar, the students were well behaved and the teachers even better behaved.

Despite the lack of support from our female Headmaster Bensouda, my stewardship of the 2015 class was beyond reproach. I created close intimacy with all the Standard Eight teachers to ensure that our candidates got the very best. We worked tirelessly day and night, in a bid to surpass last year’s mean score. We actually had set a target of 270. We, however, downgraded this to 240 following the teachers’ strike that kept the candidates away from school for long.

At the time when last year’s exams were released, I was at Kenyatta University battling with an animal called EPS 402, an animal that has already caused me enough grief. As such, I spent all my time preparing for the statistics exam and did not even try to check how Mwisho wa Lami Primary had performed in KCPE. Given the work we did last year, I was quite sure they had passed with sky-rocketing colours.

It was not until after I had sat for the paper and handed in the scripts that I tried to find out how we had performed. I tried calling Bensouda but she did not pick my calls. Unable to reach any colleague as well, I decided to check via SMS the best and worst candidates. Klindon, who repeated class eight and was our best student even in the mocks, had scored 309 marks. This was great. It was the first time ever that a student at Mwisho wa Lami had scored above 300 marks!

EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE

I also checked the worst student, hoping they would have scored about 120 marks. Too bad, Nyayo’s son had scored a total 96 marks, from 5 subjects. I believed that was just an exception and the rest had done well. From the look of things, we had a mean score of about 240. Actually, I didn’t have enough airtime to check for more results.

When I arrived back in Mwisho wa Lami last weekend, I was confronted by parents as soon as I alighted from Mbukinya Bus. I used Mbukinya since two of my former best students at Mwisho wa Lami are conductors in this great bus and as such I paid half and go to sit next to the driver.

“Where are the exams?” Nyayo asked me as he ferried me on his boda boda to my home. I told him I had been away and expected the HM to have taken the results and pinned them on the school notice board.

“We have been there several times and nothing has been shown,” he said.

“I am sure my son passed well,” he added. “He is the light of our family and is the one who will remove me from this poverty.” I did not want to disappoint him by telling him the marks his son had scored.

No sooner had I arrived home than several parents came to see me. They all wanted to know how their children had performed. I tried reaching Bensouda. After several attempts, she called back. I asked her if she had picked the exams results.

“Most parents are asking why we have not shown them the results,” I told her.

“I can’t put up such shameful performance on the board for everyone to see,” she said.

“What do you mean? I checked and Klindon had scored 309 marks – we have never scored over 260 before.”

“You think 309 is good performance? Which National or Extra-County school will take such marks?”

“Come on Madam HM, let’s celebrate this good performance.”

“Dre, I don’t know what you people were doing last year, the performance is terrible.”

“Do you know the mean score?” she asked me.

“I do not know, but with one student getting 309 marks, it should be between 230 and 240.”

“You will see it today,” she said and disconnected. Later that day, she put up the results on the school noticeboard. Klindon had got 309 marks, while the next pupil had scored 267 marks, still a record in Mwisho wa Lami. The third pupil scored 223 marks and most candidates had between 100 and 200 marks. Other than Nyayo’s son, two other pupils had below 100 marks. The mean score was 184.9.

TOAST OF TOWN

But Klindon saved us. Word that we had a student with over 300 marks – for the first time – spread far and wide. There was celebrations all over as everybody said Mwisho wa Lami Primary School had the best results. At Hitler’s that evening, I was congratulated severally and even brought drinks.

But come last Tuesday there was no celebration. Bensouda, who had called for an urgent staff meeting, was in a foul mood.

“I have never had a mean score of below 200 marks,” she said once everyone was seated. “I am ashamed at these results that you people have produced.”

“Madam Headmaster why are you calling them our results? Aren’t you part of this school?” asked Saphire. For the first time, Saphire had come to school in the first week of opening.

“These are not my results; these are Dre’s results. My first class will be those joining Class Eight this year. I came here in 2014 when last year’s candidates were in Standard 7. Not much I could do there. From this year you will see the students I molded right from Standard 6.”

“It is your class Madam,” said Saphire. “When you inherit a wife, you accept both the future and the historical children. You can’t run away.”

“We are not inheriting wives here you fool,” said Bensouda with finality on that topic. Looking at me she asked. “Dre are you OK with these results?”

“Of course we could have done better. But let us also celebrate that we had a student with over 300 marks and another with 275.”

“Let’s stop lying to ourselves, Klindon and Manasseh studied in other schools and only came to sit for their exams here so don’t brag about them. Without the two our mean score goes down to 170.”

“It doesn’t matter madam, these are our results and we taught them for 7 years before they went to the academies to prepare for KCPE.”

“Even parents out there are happy with the results and parents are moving children from other schools to this,” added Mrs Atika as other teachers nodded.

“I can’t believe we are having this discussion. Clearly I do not have the right teachers to get me the results I want. I need a total overhaul of the teaching staff here if I’m to get good results. That is what I will tell the County Director of Education when I meet him tomorrow,” she said, ended the meeting and left.  It was not the first time we were being threatened over KCPE performance. It won’t be the last.

***

The Statistics Exam in KU was not so bad, and I did my best. But it seems like enemies of development have infiltrated all spheres of our society, including the Judiciary. They reinstated KU’s VC to continue. With her around, I do not have faith that my scripts will be marked freely and fairly. I believe her re-instatement is a ploy to rig me out of graduating this year. Money has been poured.

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