“This test defines the life of a person after school in Kenya. That is unfortunately how the system here is designed. You can be exceptionally smart, but if you cannot perform on [the K.C.S.E], it means nothing.”
What is the K.C.S.E., and why does it matter?
“In Kenya, the K.C.S.E. is the single most defining parameter of how far you can go,” said Charles, Dean of Curriculum at the Daraja Academy.
The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education is taken at the completion of Secondary school. Replacing the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE), the K.C.S.E. debuted in 1989 as the new entrance requirement to attention a Kenyan university. Although initially ten subjects, the examination now covers seven: English, Swahili, Mathematics, at least two sciences, one humanities and at least one practical or technical subject.
“All careers are interlinked with one’s performance on the K.C.S.E.,” Charles said. “The test defines the life of a person after school in Kenya. That is unfortunately how the system here is designed. You can be exceptionally smart, but if you cannot perform on this test, it means nothing.”
The Form 4s at Daraja, like any other Form 4 in Kenya seeking university admission, will take the K.C.S.E. in November. The curriculum is so intensive that the test often can take up to 3 weeks to administer. Exams, papers and labs are sometimes administered over the course of a month to give students days in-between testing to study and recuperate.
Mercy, Form 4 at Daraja, said that although she couldn’t go home when the other girls got to after the end of term 1, she was glad that the reason was to start studying. The more time the girls study for the test, the more prepared they will be. With the stakes as high as each girl’s future, preparation is everything.
The structure and methods of instruction in classes has been tailored to prepare the girls specifically for this exam. The teachers at Daraja have been trained to outline common mistakes students make on the test, show students how to utilize sample tests, and teach in a way that is similar to what the students will see on the K.C.S.E. examination. Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans will take the K.C.S.E. this year, and hope that upon receipt of their results in February of next year, they make the cut-off to continue his or her education.
How can you play a part in the success of the Form 4s at the Daraja Academy?
In addition to study and preparation, confidence goes a long way toward the success of any young woman. The biggest, most exciting event of the year for the girls of Daraja is soon approaching: the Lap-a-thon, sister race to the annual Bay to Breakers event. Each Daraja girl will run 28 laps around campus while across the ocean at the same time, Race for Daraja teams will be running through San Francisco to raise money for girls’ education. For each Daraja girl who is able to get her laps sponsored, she is able to run with the pride and fulfillment of knowing that she is contributing to her own education. Each lap that she completes is one step closer to her future as a leader of Kenya. Click here to help empower a Daraja girl during a pivotal time in her life when that extra bit of confidence can quite possibly make all the difference!