Over 1,000 pupils from Aga Khan Primary School in Mombasa on Friday exercised their democratic right to vote during the school’s leadership elections.
For the first time in the school’s history, the pupils conducted elections supervised by teachers, parents and with assistance from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Their headteacher, Mr Christopher Owino, said this was an opportunity for the pupils to elect their preferred president and the students’ council.
“Today we are having the elections of the pupils’ leaders. The students are electing their own leaders (prefects). They are choosing the school President, Deputy President, Governors and Senators.
“The campaigns have been running from Monday and they were very vigorous for the last one week.
“The candidates used posters, went for door to door campaigns [besides] addressing pupils [during] parades,” Mr Owino said.
He added that the pupils have exhibited great talent as most of them researched in libraries, came up with manifestos and brought out the best of themselves.
Mr Owino said at least 1,000 pupils from Class Two to Eight from different streams took part in the elections.
“This is very good for our country. It is a chance to allow them to express themselves, exercise their democratic right at an early age.
“Learning is not only in the classrooms, they have known what voting is all about. They do not look at the tribe, religion or colour,” the headteacher added.
He said this will help them understand what will be taking place during the August 8 general election.
SUPPORT FROM IEBC
He thanked the IEBC officials led by Mr Hassan Ali who helped them with materials for the elections.
“They (IEBC) has given us technical support, materials [and] voting booths which we are using for the election. At school level we have an election chairman with commissioners and this has enabled us to have a free and fair election,” he said.
Parents also took part in the elections as observers with some of the students acting as agents for the 35 candidates.
Mr Owino called on Kenyans to learn from the school's elections.
“One thing we can learn as Kenyans is that we can conduct elections very peacefully without getting into our tribal cocoons. Ethnicity is one of the ghosts we need to exorcise from this country,” he said.
The pupils were so excited to have taken part in an election process.
“I feel like this is a very nice [election]. Everybody is excited as we are doing what you’ll do in August. I’d [hope] that the Kenyan elections will be peaceful and fair,” said 10-year-old Omar Sufi.
Kassim Akbal, 12, called on Kenyans to conduct smooth voting come August and asked them not to fight.
Swabrina Shabaan Ulaya who was vying for the school’s deputy president’s position expressed optimism she would be elected.
She urged Kenyans to register before February 14 and ensure that they elect the leaders that they want.
And 12-year-old Nigel Obath, a presidential candidate, told the Nation that if elected, he will ensure that he will make things happen for the pupils.
Audrey Bii, who was also running for school president, said she draws her inspiration from women in leadership, especially Martha Karua.