For those of you with good memory, our performance in last year’s KCPE was very good, even though some enemies of development still refused to see the positives. We may have had a mean score of 184.9, but for the first time in the history of Mwisho wa Lami Primary School, we had a student scoring above 300 marks; 309 marks to be exact! That was no mean feat.
News that we had a student with such high marks spread far and wide, and before long out school was the talk of the county and beyond. And my name was also on everyone’s lips as the chief architect of such great performance. The best candidate, Klindon, may have repeated Class 8, or even studied in another school for Class Eight and only came to sit exams in our school, but that was beside the point. Another school could not claim to have transformed a pupil in one year – we had worked on the boy for seven good years.
By the time schools were opening, we were receiving many pupils from other schools who wanted to come and complete their Class Eight in our school. We accepted them. The new parents would help us with payment since they were ready to pay whatever we asked for – for they knew that success does not come cheap.
Everyone was happy – except Bensouda. While I was celebrated by every reasonable person for engineering such unprecedented results, Bensouda was on my case accusing me of being a failure. She disowned last year’s KCPE class saying that was my class.
“This year’s class will be my proper class as it will have the pupils I moulded right from Class 6,” she declared. “Check everywhere I have been, I have never posted a mean score of below 230 marks. Tighten your belts, for this year will be tough.” We all were prepared for a busy year with the candidates.
This, unfortunately was the last we heard from her regarding performance. Until last week when Bensouda realised that KCPE was around the corner. Having been castigated for poor performance last year, I had taken a back seat, and did not want to be in charge of Class 8. I let teachers do what they wanted. And they did want they wanted.
My experience with teachers like Kuya, Saphire, Sella and Nzomo tells me that had I been their high achool principal, I would have written one statement on their leaving certificates: Can only work under strict supervision, preferably by police. That was true, for the whole year, the quartet went to class whenever they felt like.
After being quiet for almost the whole year, Bensouda woke up from her deep slumber, and called for a special staff meeting of all Class Eight teachers. I was keen to avoid the meeting and I tried to come up with an excuse but Bensouda would hear none of it. Even when I reminded her that I do not teach Class Eight.
“You are the deputy and in charge of academics remember,” she wrote back.
It was last Monday afternoon and there was Kuya, Sella, Nzomo, Lena and Madam Ruth. I joined them later after and were eager to know what the agenda of the meeting was.
“Let us wait for boss to come, I told them.” Bensouda arrived shortly after.
“How are we preparing for KCPE this year,” she asked. “Hope we are still aiming at 240 marks mean score and above, aren’t we?” No one was willing to answer. I had to answer: “240 may be high but we are working on it and I assure you we will do better than last year,” I said.
“And what exactly are you doing?” she asked. I fumbled about how we had initiated robust revision, and were planning for preps but she dismissed me. “You do not know what is happening, do you even teach Class 8?” she asked me. “Why are you even here?” she wondered.
“We have a very short time to make a big difference. We start morning and evening preps every day from tomorrow,” she announced. “Kuya please prepare a timetable for my review in the next hour.”
“We will also have weekend tuition for Class 8 until the exams are done,” she added and asked to see the programme within the hour.
“Madam headmistress,” said Sella. “I request to be excused from the weekend and evening preps as I have classes at Maseno University at that time.”
Lena also excused herself from morning classes. “My baby is still small and I have a new house girl,” she said. “I can’t leave home early.
“Can I suggest that I do my preps at lunch time?” asked Kuya. Bensouda asked him why.
“It is raining every day,” said Kuya. “I can’t come here early or leave late because of the rain and mud.”
Nzomo too had an excuse. “Madam HM you know I have permission not to come to school early in the cold since I am asthmatic,” she said
Bensouda hit the roof. “What is this all of you are telling me that you can’t make it?” she thundered. “What kind of teachers do I have in this school? Kuya let me see the timetable after 30 minutes and everyone will have to adhere to itwithout failure,” she said, banged the table and left.
“Guys, what do we do?” asked Sella after Bensouda had left. “This is my last trimester and I can’t miss classes,” she said. “Can you do for me my lessons then I take your Class 7 lessons?” I said I could take but I doubted if Bensouda would accept. Lena was categorical that she would not leave her baby unattended to while Nzomo said she had a letter from the doctor. “According to the doctor, the earliest I can be in school is 9 am.”
Kuya tried his best to do the preps timetable but it could not work with all Class 8 teachers unavailable. Kuya and I went to see the HM half an hour later.
“Madam HM, we do not have a solution as most Class 8 teachers are unavailable,” I said.
“And you Dre, what are you doing?” she asked. She did not even let me answer.
“If the teachers can’t make it, you and me will do it,” she said, Let us start tomorrow morning at 7. Prepare the time table.”
Since we had two streams of Class Eight, we agreed that I would handle one class while she handles the other.
Come Tuesday morning, I arrived at school very early. I was shocked to find Bensouda already in school. It was the first time Bensouda had arrived in school before me. And she left for Class 8 East shortly after I arrived, carrying books, a box of dustless chalk and a blackboard ruler.
There was drama as she tried to enter the classroom. Clearly the door was not meant for people of her size. I am not saying that Bensouda if fat, just that the door was rather too small. She took about half a minute to get through the door, which was only possible because she entered from the side.
Seeing Bensouda in class brought the whole school to a standstill. It was the first time Bensouda was going to class ever since she joined our school. In Class 8 West, where I was, all the students were actually looking at Class 8E. As soon as teachers arrived and saw Bensouda in class, they all went to class, and by 9am, all classes were occupied.
“Wah, I am so tired,” said Bensouda when she joined us in the staffroom for tea. She had only done one lesson. “I had really missed teaching – it’s such a noble profession.” She then added before anyone could say anything. “I will be going to the county education office tomorrow. If I must be the one teaching then I will ask the county director of education to post teachers who can actually teach.”
On Wednesday morning, Sella, Kuya and Lena were in school early attending to the candidates. But from the little I observed when I taught the boys and girls, it is too late, there is nothing that can be done to change the students in a few weeks. We will be lucky to get a mean score of 150 marks – even if Bensouda camps there teaching!