Two days before the start of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams, Murang’a High School Deputy Principal Charles Karanja handed a Sh50,000 post-dated cheque to the top student, Robinson Wanjala Simiyu, with the promise that he could cash it if he topped in the national test.

He did not disappoint.

Wanjala attained the enviable mean score of 87.334 to emerge the best performer in the 2020 KCSE.

This is no mean feat given, first, the highly competitive nature of the KCSE and the disruption brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic which forced candidates to stay out of school for over six months.

Though classified as a national school since 2014, Murang’a High is not quite in the league of traditional academic giants such as Alliance or Kenya High schools, which makes Wanjala’s outstanding performance all the more remarkable.

The Catholic Church-sponsored school, founded in 1964, yesterday basked in the national limelight for having produced the top student in the country.

The school “is run like a family. We’re our brothers’ keepers. We have teachers who are like our parents, brothers and sisters. The school runs on ‘discipline, order and determination’ as the motto,” Wanjala said.

He wanted to pursue medicine or engineering at the university, “but now that I’ve emerged top, I’m sure I’ll land a [place] at the University of Nairobi (UoN) where I’ll pursue my first choice — medicine.”

Wanjala attributes the greatest part of his success to his parents. If he were to be given a chance to make a choice to be born again: “I would chose my current parents, not even in the president’s family… my parents are just great,” he said matter-of-factly.

It is understood that Wanjala was paid Sh50,000 well before he sat for his KCSE examinations, perhaps offering him more reason to study harder for that extra marks not just to hit high grades, but also keep the Sh50,000.

Murang’a High School Deputy Principal Charles Karanja handed a Sh50,000 post-dated cheque to the top student, Robinson Wanjala Simiyu

Whether giving monetary incentive before examination is a great way to motivate a student to perform well will be an issue for educationists to debate.

But questions are likely to be raised on how the Murang’a High School Deputy Principal (academics) Charles Karanja reached the decision to pay the student Ksh50,000 using a post-dated cheque ahead of the 2020 KCSE exams, which was to be his reward if he emerged the best candidate. Should students be paid to achieve what they are actually supposed to achieve?

Top 20 Performing Schools

1. Kenya High……10.76
2. Alliance Girls….10.65
3. Kapsabet Boys…10.60
4. Maranda Boys….10.57
5. Machakos Girls…10.48
6. Mang’u Boys…..10.33
7. Kaaga Girls…..10.31
8. Alliance Boys…..10.30
9. Agoro Sare Boys….10.22
10. Chanda Boys…10.12
11. Kabarak High…10.11
12. Pangani Girls….9.97
13. St. Joseph’s Girls..9.95
14. St. Bridgit’s Girls…9.69
15. Moi Girls Eldoret…9.56
16. Starehe Boys…9.42
17. Lugulu Girls…9.32
18. State House Girls….9.31
19. Kisii High…9.27
20. Kamusinga Boys….9.20

The norm is usually rewarding students after their performance or at least just promising the reward.

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