Schools in Wajir County performed better in the 2018 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations despite mass teacher departures, terrorism and drought.
The county has also suffered several cases of inter-clan clashes.
In February, teachers left in large numbers after two who worked at Qarsa Primary School were killed by suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen. The wife of one of the teachers was also shot dead in the incident.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) then transferred more than 900 non-local teachers from the county. More than 60 percent of the teachers there were non-locals, so the move nearly brought education in the county to its knees.
Candidates rose above these challenges and recorded improved performance, as revealed in results announced on Monday by Education minister Amina Mohamed.
Billan Mohamed Diis from Furqan Integrated Academy was the best in the county with 426 marks.
She thanked God, her teachers for supporting her and her classmates and appealed to girls in the county to work hard so they can have bright futures.
“Let me be a source of hope and inspiration to all the girls in the county. We are equal to the task no matter the challenges,” she said.
Ms Mohamed was closely followed by Hafsa Ahmed Abdi from Wajir Excel Academy (411) and Fartun Ismail from Al-Bukhari Integrated Academy (409).
Mohamed Ahmed and Bilal Abdullahi Mohamed, both from Furqan Integrated Academy, took the fourth and fifth positions, with 408 and 404 marks respectively.
Generally, private schools performed better than public schools.
Fathi Abdi Mumin from ICF Primary School (public), scored 399 marks and was followed by Bahsan Ahmed with 394 and Yahya Ahmed Hillow with 385.
Dekow Mohamed and Issack Yasin from Furaha Primary school tied at 368 marks.
Girls outshone boys in almost all the sub-counties in Wajir and took the top three positions countywide.
They have faced challenges including female genital mutilation, early marriage and sexual abuse.
County education director, Mr Hussein Osman, attributed the good performance to adequate preparation.
While noting that there were no opportunities to cheat, he said, "With this in mind, the pupils prepared well for the examinations."
Mr Osman pointed out that schools in Wajir town performed better than those in other areas due to its centrality and the adequate security it enjoys. He noted that security is key to the county's good performance in national exminations.