With a little more than 700 students, Dertu’s primary school, set in this remote pastoralist village in arid Northern Kenya, was certainly not expecting to be in the news. So the joy and pride were big when a photo of one of its students was featured in a daily newspaper: Mohamed Amin Abdishukri scored the highest marks in North Eastern province at the 2010 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)!
‘I knew that my son was bright and hard working. But it never occurred to me that he would be the leading student in the whole of North Eastern province,’ said his mother Aisha Mohamed. She attributes his success to the unrelenting efforts by the teachers of Dertu primary school and… her good nurturing skills. ‘I thank God for all this. He has made me a proud mother!’
The fourteen year old has been enrolled at Alliance High School, the most prestigious secondary school in Kenya that traditionally admits only the cream of the country’s pupils. The second born of his 5 siblings, Mohamed wants to become a civil engineer to help build the infrastructure in his home district of Garissa, which has been neglected for a long time. ‘I also want to use my social skills to inspire my siblings and other children to study hard.’
In total, 42 students from Dertu primary school sat for the KCPE and all of them passed and were admitted in various public schools, at the provincial and district levels. But what is most striking is the girls’ improved results. In 2010, 12 girls sat the KCPE, compared to only 3 in the previous year. Out of the 12, ten managed to secure admission into secondary school within the district. In general, girls’ enrollment in Dertu primary school has increased from 80 students in 2006 to 184 in 2010. This is the result of several sensitization campaigns on girl child education and the construction of boarding facilities that accommodate both boys and girls who can get an education while their pastoralist families are on the move with their livestock. Dertu primary school has currently 714 children, a three-fold increase from 265 in 2006/2007.
In addition to the primary school located in the village, the community of Dertu Millennium Village has access to 4 mobile schools, in which 186 children and 62 adults are enrolled. Teachers from these mobile schools are provided with a camel and teaching material to follow the pastoralist community around and allow its members to get an education while maintaining their nomadic lifestyle.