What picture forms in your mind when you hear “high school”? Do you think of homeroom and lockers, eating with your friends in the cafeteria, attending multiple classes and waiting for the bus while it’s dark? Maybe school activities like drama club or attending football games comes to mind? If you attended an American high school, you likely experienced some of those things.
What’s High School Like in Kenya?
High school in Kenya is quite different from the typical American public high school.
- There are three terms in the school year instead of four quarters. The first term starts in January, which means the school year is nearing an end at the time this post was published.
- Every high school charges something to go to school, though the government covers some costs. Annual tuition is about $400.
- You have to wear a uniform (no exceptions!), and you have to pay for it
- The better high schools have students board at their institution where you have a fixed daily schedule, which includes when they get up, go to class, eat and have free time.
- To graduate from high school and qualify to enter university, you have to pass the KCSE Exam (think of the GRE). Students are tested on a minimum of 7 subjects and their results are announced publicly. According to Advance Africa, only one in seven who take the KCSE exam pass with the minimum grade required for university. In contrast, 5 in 7 STARS who finish high school pass the KCSE exam and qualify for university.
What’s High School Like for Our STARS?
The orphans who receive a STARS high school scholarship enter another world. Our STARS go to high school feeling hopeful and afraid.
They are excited because the impossible dream of gaining a high school education and changing the trajectory of their life has become a reality. But they also worry whether they will be as good as other students, if they will pass the KCSE, and, if they do pass, whether they can afford university.
Our STARS also have to adjust to a lot of new things. These are some of the things they will experience for the first time in their 13 years of life:
- Having some new personal things, i.e. their shoes, uniform, books
- Eating regular meals, which are included in school fees
- Living away from their community since they board at high school
- Learning how to study and being responsible for managing their time
- Having opportunities to try an extra-curricular activity
- The freedom to focus on academics since they are away from daily responsibilities like chores and caring for siblings or earning money by herding goats and gathering firewood
Our Current STARS
The 19 students who form our current batch of high school STARS are doing great. Carolyn, Meckphonza, Mary O., Mercy, Mary A., Jackline, Cynthia, Bonface, Samantha, Fredrick, Mobby, Mildred, Samson, Veg, Jenipher, Vivian, Dominic, Fredrick and Joseph are all thriving with the support of our donors and mentorship of our local partner.
They finished their last term with strong grades which were mostly B’s with many A’s and a few C’s. They are also demonstrating stellar character, which is an equal requirement with good grades to continue to receive their scholarship (learn more here under “How We Work”).
Several of them have also been appointed to leadership positions in school. See Mary A. below with our Kenyan partner – who is also her school sponsor. She was elected “Governor” for the girls at Naki High School.