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Thursday, March 1, 2012
Maranda's secret for slaying academic giants
By Mangoa Mosota
Just minutes after the 2011 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams were announced, Maranda Boys’ High School, took over Bondo town.
Because the school is not known for rowdy behaviour, residents watched in disbelief from a distance. Then it dawned on them — their local school was the best in the country in last year’s KCSE.
Women tied their shukas around their hips and the men stopped what they were doing as they joined the 1,500 students in dance and song.
They instantly composed songs in honour of the 2011 KCSE class that had brought great honour to their locality. Matatu operators and motor cycle operators honked.
It was as if the sun momentarily stopped blazing immediately after the minister of Education Prof Sam Ongeri announced the best school at exactly 12.07pm to honour Maranda for its historic performance.
The Standard had camped at the school earlier; knowing that it was likely to perform well given its grades last year when, apart from making it to the top ten list, it was the best in Kiswahili nationally.
School Principal Boaz Owino shows offthe many trophies Maranda haswon for exemplary performancein various fields. [PHOTOS: TITUSMUNALA/STANDARD]
When we arrived at the school at 9am, we found learning in progress, and Principal Boaz Owino ushered us to his well-furnished office.
"We have to go on with our programme, until the results are announced," said Owino.
What struck us most about the school was the tranquility that reigns supreme. And the compound is littered with strong motivational messages. These and the well-manicured trees and lush green grass provide just the right environment for excellence.
The institution garnered performance index of 11.057 points, up from 10.558 in the 2010 exams, making it the new giant to watch of KCSE.
Parents, students and teachers The Standard spoke attributed their success to high discipline and belief in God.
"There is simply a perfect learning environment. If your son is admitted to Maranda, you are assured of a disciplined individual who knows what he wants to achieve in life," said James Masese, father of Sidney Rema, the best student at the school, who was ranked position five nationally.
Motivation and Reward
A joyful Masese and his wife, Esther Moraa, said students at the institution know that teachers mean well for them and respect their guidance.
Rema was overjoyed by the results.
Maranda students expressed their joy in Bondo town Wednesday, after emerging the best in last year’s KCSE exam.
"Although I used to perform well, I did not expect to be among the top. I worked hard and there was stiff competition among my classmates," said Rema, 16, who wants to pursue Medicine at university. The students at the institution wake up at 4.45am on week days, and the day ends after 10am.
They start preps at 5.15 am, and lessons at 5.45 am, which take one hour before normal classes kick off at at 6.45am. A major key to the success of the school is coverage of the syllabus on time. Already, the current From Four candidates have completed the syllabus for two subjects.
"We often cover the syllabus of all the subjects by the end of second term. It ensures that we have ample time for revision," says Owino, 49.
Teachers are normally motivated for good performance. Last year during the Prize Giving Day, the school’s Board of Governors chairman Carey Orege said they would continue motivating the staff.
Orege said teachers play a role in the good performance, and they must be recognised for the effort.
There are also trips for teachers and students who register exemplary performance at the KCSE.
Close To Students
The school has 60 teaching and 30 non-teaching staff. All of them live in the school compound.
"This ensures the teachers are close to the students," says Owino adding that this is good as it allows students to consult teachers immediately they have an issue instead of postponing until the following day. Owino reveals that he spends almost all his time in school and students often demand that he talks to them.
"Many schools don’t register good performance because the principals are often not in school. Hence, they fail to address small issues that turn into big problems in time," he says. Owino, just like other heads of the school before him, is a teetotaler.
"The unwritten rule has been that head teachers in this school do not take alcohol; hence do not go to pubs. I have found that tradition here four years ago, and I have followed it." It is all for the school’s good image.
The school has been registering steady improvement in the last three years. While it was position 13 in the 2009 examinations, last year it was fourth. It has crowned it all this year.