16-year-old Collins Macharia from Murang’a County has sat KCPE exam three times but can’t join
At the crack of dawn just before the sun rises and warms the undulating hills of Kayuyu village in Mathioya, a teenage boy rises and heads to a road-side quarry.
For 16-year-old Collins Macharia from Murang’a County, life has just handed him its roughest side just a few days after he finished his primary school education.
Despite having scored 352 marks out of a possible 500 marks in the 2013 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam, a soft spoken but confident Macharia may well spend the better part of his life breaking stones to earn a living.
This is unless he manages to raise school fees for his secondary education.
But young Macharia is a determined soul; he has sat the KCPE exam three times, each time hoping to score higher marks and attract a sponsor but to no avail.
“I finished class eight last year at Gitugi Primary School and was the third best KCPE candidate in that school,” he said during the interview with this writer on Friday last week
However, proceeding to secondary school still remains a dream task for the first born in a family of three.
Macharia’s mother Charity Wangari, 41, is disabled and single and she cannot manage to engage in menial labour to pay for her son’s secondary school fees.
So is the boy’s grandmother 65-year-old Mary Muthoni who also has a disability on her legs and walks with help of a crutch.
REPEATED CLASS EIGHT
The resilient teenager first sat his KCPE in 2011 and managed to score 286 marks but his teachers were able to convince him to repeat class eight so as to possibly score higher marks and hopefully secure sponsorship.
The following year, in 2012, despite the biting poverty and challenges, he scored 331 marks and got admission to Njumbi Boys High School but he lacked school fees.
Again his teachers prevailed upon the pupil to repeat so as to hopefully score more than 350 marks to get local sponsorship.
They argued that several banks and institutions supporting needy school children in the county were mostly assisting those with 350 marks and above and if Macharia managed that, then he would possibly get help and pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.
“We have been supporting the boy the best way we could like buying uniform for him and paying for his KCPE exam registration as well as waiving other charges.
We really hoped that he would join high school” said Macharia’s class teacher Mr Zachariah Kamau Maingi.
SCORED 352 MARKS
The indefatigable young man full of hope and determination did another year and true to his promise, he scored 352 marks in the 2013 KCPE exam.
But despite his hopes that he would get help, none has been forthcoming so far.
“I have approached several potential sponsors and filed numerous application forms but it seems the competition is too high now,” he said, taking a short break from breaking rocks to make gravel.
“Previously I was told that if I managed to score more than 350 marks, I would get assistance.
I have done so but it seems the stakes are too high this time,” he says, his eyes clearly yearning for help.
And so the boy has resolved to breaking stones into small concrete chips for sale hoping that he will raise enough amount of money to enable him join a local polytechnic.
That too has not been possible.
Since August 2013 when he ventured into the hard labour together with his uncle Peter Kafungo, Macharia has only managed to sell two wheel barrows of gravel at Sh300.
The money was used to buy food for the family.
“I would really love to go to any high school but then if that is not possible, I am hoping to join a polytechnic although that is not my desire,” he says, his soft voice almost dimmed by the tapping sound of small hammers of other men also breaking concrete together with the boy.
His uncle, Mr Kafungo says the teenager approached him saying he wanted to join him in breaking the stones and he gave him a small mallet.
Macharia has so far broken concrete chips worth sh8, 000 but has not managed to sell them.
At the family’s two roomed iron sheet house which is a walking distance from the road-side quarry, the teenager’s grandmother described the boy as very obedient and determined.
“I only pray that God will perform a miracle and enable the young boy to go to high school as has been his dream,” says Ms Muthoni, as she supports her old frame on a wooded crutch.
And as the interview ends, Macharia goes back to his daily chore not minding the dust emanating from the road and the scorching January sun; his consolation perhaps coming from the shade provided by a small mango tree.
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