Sitting under an avocado tree that serves as a staffroom, Dr Mainye Momanyi both inspires and frustrates the aspirations of his fellow teachers at Chitago DEB Public Primary School.
The tall head teacher, who keeps his long hair well-combed, has become an inspiration to fellow learners after managing to scale academic heights, rising from a certificate P1 teacher to a graduate with a PhD, a rare fete in the country.
Dr Momanyi has been the acting head teacher of Chitago, a public school in Kitutu Masaba Constituency, Nyamira County, since July last year.
His academic journey has been one full of potholes and roadblocks but also great feats.
The 48-year-old father of six started his career in 1991 as a P1 teacher after graduating with a certificate in Education — the lowest training for teachers — from St Marks Teachers’ College in Embu.
“I was first posted in Nyatieno Primary School and taught for eight years in various public primary schools before going back to class,” he recalls.
In 2000, he did a diploma at a District Centre for Early Childhood Education.
However, after graduating, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) declined to recognise the diplomas arguing that there was no effective monitoring on how they were conferred thus leading to the possibility of compromising education standards.
This made him to go back to class again. In 2004, he graduated with a Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) diploma in education.
Two years later, in 2006, he travelled to Uganda where he joined Kampala University for a Bachelor’s Degree in Education Arts, majoring in Early Childhood Education and Christian Religion with a minor in Social Studies.
Before graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree, he had to go back to class for a one-year pre-university programme since he had studied under Kenya’s 8-4-4 system while the Ugandan system required post-Form Four education before admission to university.
Upon graduation in 2010, Dr Momanyi returned to the same university for a master’s degree in early childhood education which took him two years to complete.
Once armed with the degree, he presented his academic qualifications to the TSC in 2013.
The commission acknowledged his master’s degree qualification, and in 2015 he joined the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) where he did a diploma in Education Management, an important qualification for those intending to become school administrators.
Not ready to stop his academic pursuit, Dr Momanyi yet again enrolled for a PhD in early childhood education at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology in 2013. He graduated after four years on December 14.
“It was tough but I made it due to dedication and hard work,” Dr Momanyi, who is also a Seventh Day Adventist elder, says.