Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam candidates at a public school in Baringo that had been closed for years because of banditry defied odds to attain good grades in the recently released results.
Candidates at Kapindasum Primary School in Baringo South scored better marks than in the previous years despite constant security threats from bandits last year.
Some 13 out of 16 candidates managed to attain more than 300 marks, posting a mean score of 320.6. The leading student scored 386 marks.
The institution was reopened this year after being closed in 2017 following raids that led to the deaths of five people, including a teacher at the institution, forcing parents to flee to safer places with their children for fear of more attacks.
The institution had earlier been closed for five years (2012 to 2017) after armed criminals descended on the school and killed more than four pupils in broad daylight.
However, the pupils and their teachers took the risk and went back to the school two years later, keen to learn in a familiar area. They declined to be accommodated in the neighbouring schools.
When the Nation toured the school on Tuesday, candidates who sat for KCPE tests this year were being escorted by security officers to go and celebrate their achievement.
Villages adjacent to the school remain deserted after locals fled in 2012 due to runaway insecurity, with the nearest being Chemorong’ion, more than four kilometres away. No one can dare walk to the institution unless under the escort of security officers.
Most of the candidates were not present as they had relocated to Mochongoi, Waseges, Marigat, Sandai and Kimorok, where their parents had fled to.
However, the pupils defied the odds of learning in a porous area and living away from their parents to post good results in the examination with the best, Bramwel Kipng’emui, scoring 386 marks out of a possible 500.
The second pupil, Betty Kamama, had 362 marks while Donald Kulei scored 358 marks.
Christopher Koech, one of the candidates, could not hide his joy after receiving the results.
“It was not easy for us to learn in an environment where bandits reign. Sometimes armed bandits invade the school, forcing us to scamper for safety and thus interrupting learning. Our parents have relocated to far-off places for safety. We thank God we managed to post good results, the challenges notwithstanding,” he said.
He said in 2017 and 2018, he was forced to learn in Kimorok Primary School in Marigat, more than 60 kilometres away after he and his parents fled due to incessant banditry that saw one of their teachers killed.
“Our school closed after one of our teachers was shot dead in 2017 near the school. People fled the area. Some of my colleagues dropped out of school but fortunately a number of us made it,” he said.
The teacher, Philemon Kemei, was fatally shot by armed bandits while walking to the neighbouring Chemorong’ion trading centre.
According to the head teacher, Ms Maria Mursoi, the school has been opening and closing since 2012 due to attacks.
“Whenever bandits strike, tension builds up and parents and their children flee, forcing the school to be closed till normalcy returns. This has been the norm since 2012. Locals are yet to come back,” she said.
The head teacher said they reopened Standard Five to Eight only, as it would not be easy for pupils in lower classes to flee in case of an attack.