FEATURE: Manga Girls PAG High School ready to roar

"Our woes are past, now we're on a growth path; watch this space in 2 years."

Form 1 students in class. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.

The cool and calm Borabu Constituency in Nyamira County is often referred to by locals as “scheme”.

I identified a biker at Nyansiongo (Kijauri) bodaboda stage. On our way, the evidently proud rider slowed down and drew my attention to two majestic homes and one empty piece of land, neighbouring each other.

He said: “Hapa chini ni boma ya Governor James Ongwae na huku juu ni kwa Chief Minister Fred Matiang’i. Pia hii shamba ni ya Solicitor General Ken Ogeto. Pia hapo mbele kuna investor ameweka creamery ya maziwa ya Farmily Milk. Huku kwetu tumebarikiwa; tuko na wengi wakubwa.

(Down here is the homestead of Governor James Ongwae and up here is that of the Chief Minister Fred Matiang’i. Again, this land belongs to the Solicitor General Ken Ogeto. Ahead of us is Farmily Milk factory. In this area, we are blessed; we have many prominent people).”

Before long, 8 kilometers away, I was at Manga shopping center, and then Manga Girls High School, my ultimate destination. It was 11:26 am when I arrived.

From outside the main entrance, the school was quiet, an indication that serious teaching and learning was underway.

In the compound, some students had gathered in groups, discussing their subjects, in low tones.

Others were in their classrooms.

I immediately concluded that the school was serving its purpose of imparting knowledge.

At a glance, there were old buildings which served to communicate that this was an age-old school.

But new ones had also come up in recent years, among them the gigantic two storey ‘Dr Fred Matiang’i Tuition Complex’ and an Administration Block.

Mrs Rachael Omwenga, Manga Girls High School Principal, in her office. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.

I was welcomed by the school’s principal, Rachael Omwenga, whose vision for the school remained centre-stage throughout our discussion.

The St. Francis Rang’ala Girls High School alumnus has been the school’s principal for a decade now, having been transferred from Ikonge Secondary School (the first school where she served as principal).

Initially, she was the deputy principal at Manga Girls PAG High School.

Omwenga says she got the inspiration to lead while at Ikonge, the same time immediate former Maseno School Chief Principal Andrew Buop was at Matongo Boys High School as the principal.

“While at Matongo, Mr Buop was fought by the community but he was determined to deliver good results.

Finally, when the wrangles became too much, he was lucky to be transferred to Homa Bay Boys High School where he led the school into excellence,” she said.

“See, he has constantly ascended the success ladder and is now heading to the USA as an Education Attaché.”

When Mrs Omwenga came back to Manga in June 2011, a conflagration had razed down dormitories and it was recorded as “electric fault” but she says it was suspected to have had a different cause.

At that time, the school had secondary and primary sections.

The aftermath of the fire was a difficult situation which was not conducive for boarding or learning.

“During that time, our students slept in classrooms and others inside the PAG chapel, which is behind the administration block,” she recalls.

“In 2017, with the intervention of Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, the girls’ primary school was moved elsewhere, creating more room for us.”

Students pose for a group photo with their principal in front of the new Administration Block. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.

But they again soon after hosted a Teachers Training College (TTC), further providing a not so good environment for the learning of high school students.

“There was a lot of community interference. This weakened the academic performance of our students,” Mrs Omwenga noted.

But the TTC is no longer there and the school’s head now says that they are on an upward surge towards quality grades.

“We have bright girls here. With 84 candidates, our projected mean score for the 2021 class is 6.5, up from 5.67 which we got in 2020 with 67 candidates,” the upbeat principal told The Scholar Media Africa.

In 2019, with 37 candidates, the institution attained a mean of 4.02.

In 2018 it had a mean score of 3.51 (35 candidates), 3.28 in 2017 (39 candidates) and 3.34 in 2016 (34 candidates).

Currently, the school has an overall population of 345 students who are ‘determined to excel’, as goes their motto.

Among other strategies that have been put in place to bring about quality grades are remedial clinics for academically weak students, increased teacher-student contact hours, invitation of motivational speakers and joint exams with other schools.

Apart from the aforementioned tuition complex, the school has also managed to achieve key milestones from the time Mrs Omwenga started reigning.

They include construction of modern washrooms for both teachers and students, renovation of dormitories, fencing of the school, purchasing ICT equipment such as desktop computers, laptops and printers, and water tanks.

A registration certificate and land Title Deed have also been acquired.

In 2019, courtesy of the Borabu Constituency Development Fund, the school received a fully funded school bus.

This has helped with referring students out for learning and transporting them home during opening and closing of school.

“All these go a long way in ensuring that the school is self-sufficient and that we can up our game of mentoring the girls,” Mrs Omwenga says, further appreciating everyone who has supported the school in one way or another.

Part of Form 4 students pose for a photo in front of the Dr. Fred Matiang’i Tuition Complex. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.

Challenges bedeviling the school

One of the main challenges that the institution is facing is the shortage of teachers.

Currently, it has 8 Teachers Service Commission (TSC) members of staff and 10 others employed by the Board of Management (BOM).

According to a November 2021 recommendation by the Ministry of Education’s Quality Assurance and Standards team, the TSC needs to supply the school with more teachers to ease the wage burden of BOM teachers.

The TSC on its part, had earlier on August 9, 2021, acknowledged the need to give the school more teachers.

“The community interference is long gone. There is political goodwill. Our performance is already going up. If we were to be given these teachers then nothing stops us from competing with giant schools in the region,” Mrs Omwenga reiterated.

She discouraged parents from the locality from preferring to take their children to faraway schools yet the institution is already excelling.

She called on the school’s alumni to find the need to support key projects and programs that the institution may have.

Since its founding, including the time when it had a primary and secondary section, the school has produced many prominent women  including Dr. Rose Otiso-Bosire, Dr. Zipporah Otiso-Wambua, Esther Omote, Grace Omete-Rasugu, Beatrice Michoma, Tabitha Monari, Dorcas Chuma-Mogere, Florence Nyangeri-Angwenyi, Bessy Nyankuru-London, Dorcas Mobisa, Alice Mogoa, Rebecca Misiani, Teresa (Dinah) Osiende-Ondari, Rachel Mwagi, Beatrice Arita, the late Margaret Getange-Ondari, Carren Mageto, Joyce Ogongo, Jane Makori, Alice Mang’era, Mary Mang’era, Druscilla Mokandu, Mary Mokandu, Alice Mwamba, Eunice Ondigi.

Equally, she pleaded with the local leadership led by Dr. Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, and Solicitor General Ken Ogeto, who have both recently visited the school, to help them lobby and get the above-mentioned subject teachers.

“We really thank Dr. Matiang’i and Mr Ogeto for their support in the past.

This school would not have reached where it is without them,” the principal said.

However, we have one more request that they help us get enough TSC teachers. This is the largest girls’ school in Esise Ward, Nyamira County and thus requires more attention.”

Prof. Kefa Otiso of Bowling Green State University, USA, who hails from the school’s vicinity and was once a teacher at the school, is now its patron.

He too is determined to ensure that the girls are excelling in their education.

Prof. Otiso, however, challenges the old girls to come together and support the school in living up to its potential.

“Manga Girls High School is a sleeping giant that needs to wake up and rival Sironga Girls and other major girls’ schools in Nyamira County,” he said.

He further pleaded with the school’s sponsor, the PAG church to accord the school more support.

Manga Girls PAG High School was founded in 1975 by the same missionary who established Kereri Girls High School in Kisii town.

The aim was to provide access to secondary education to girls from the area.

To date, the school has had eight principals, namely, Miss F. Regehr (1975-1976), Mr. Ross McQuarrie (1977-1978), Mr. Zedekiah Machoka (1979-Jan. 1980), Mr. Zachariah Nyakundi (1980-Aug. 1983), Mrs. Gladys Momanyi (Sep. 1983-2004), Mrs Rael Mokua (2005-2006), Mrs. Billiah Moenga (2006 – 2011), Mrs. Rachel Omwenga (Jun. 2011 – Present).

“We want the school to be the best in the next two years. The school is now on a growth path,” was Mrs Omwenga’s parting shot.


Students and their teachers poses for a photo in front of the new Administration Block. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.
Students and their principal pose for a group photo at the assembly ground. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.
The school’s library. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.
Science laboratory. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.
A farmland for agriculture students. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.
Main entrance. PHOTO/Josiah Odanga, The Scholar Media Africa.

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Mr. Odanga is a Kenyan multimedia journalist, with a strong bias for writing.



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