- The national girls’ school has been steadily improving for the past decade.
- This year’s lot of candidates have been prepared enough.
- The institution has continued to rise above the lingering challenges.
Started 53 years ago, Sironga Girls’ High School has steadily grown from a harambee school to now an academic powerhouse, a national school.
Speaking recently during an educational day in the school, Chief Principal Eva Odhiambo noted the tremendous transformation the school has undergone in academics and infrastructural ability to its current status.
Ten years ago, the school was elevated to a national status that now attracted various interests nationwide.
The school is located in West Mugirango constituency in Sironga village, approximately six kilometers from Nyamira town, along the Nyamira-Kisii highway.
Since its elevation, the school has seen a steady rise in academic performance and student enrollment drawn from across the country and the East African Community (EAC).
The national girls’ school has seen a yearly improvement in its mean score in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations for the last ten years.
This has occasioned the growth of the student population to 3,500 students currently enrolled in the school.
In the last three years, the school has emerged among the top 100 schools countrywide and among the top schools in the county of Nyamira.
In 2020, despite the country being hit by the coronavirus, the school achieved a mean score of 8.23, which was an improvement with a positive deviation of 1.8 from the previous year.
Out of 392 candidates that had sat for the year’s KCSE, over 300 attained a mean grade of C+ (plus) to qualify to join the university.
A total of 459 candidates sat for the 2021 final examinations, and only eight didn’t score above C+ (plus).
The mean score improved to 8.76, with a positive deviation of 0.53.
This was the time Kenya experienced countrywide lockdowns and schools closed due to the overwhelming situation of Covid-19.
In 2022, the school registered a slight drop in its KCSE performance to a mean of 7.6, registering a negative deviation of 0.6 for the first time in nine years since its elevation.
This, according to Ms. Odhiambo, was occasioned by the bad publicity that was being spread of the school being turned into a university when the candidates joined form one in 2019.
She said the bad rumor cost the school a lot of time convincing parents and stakeholders about the school’s existence.
The damage had gone into the minds of the students who took a long time to settle.
“The 2022 class was unique, having joined when the school was really fighting the bad publicity of it being turned into a university.
The school really spent a lot of time convincing the students, parents and stakeholders that the school was indeed here to stay. By the time the students were settling, the damage had been done, and it was very late.
But we still thank God that they still managed to register good performance despite the slight drop,” explained the Chief Principal.
Another challenge that contributed to the drop in the mean was the not-very-good performance in science subjects and mathematics.
She said the long time the students spent at home when schools closed down during the covid-19 pandemic was also a major contributing factor.
Rising above challenges
However, she said that all factors have been put in place and that there will be a great improvement in this year’s examinations.
“We have done our assignments correctly and I promise stakeholders that we are set to redeem our lost glory.
This year’s lot of candidates have been prepared enough, and all I assure you is that the results will be very different, and we will be back to our position; our glory shall be back,” the Chief Principal assured.
Ms. Odhiambo, who took over the school in 2020, has, however, noted that the parents have confidence in the school because the population keeps growing each year.
This, however, has had to come with its fair share of challenges of infrastructure to accommodate the big numbers.
The available hostels and classrooms have been overwhelmed and forced the school to construct makeshift structures in the compound to decongest the classrooms to ease the evaluation of students.
To address the issue, she has contacted the relevant authorities and stakeholders about the school’s dire need for infrastructure, more so the hostels.
“We have reached out to relevant stakeholders to chip in and solve the crisis and they have all promised to support us, the area MP notwithstanding. We hope for the best,” she added.
There is inadequate teaching staff, with the current one standing at 118, with a deficit of close to 30 teachers to close the gap of the required teacher-student ratio. Also, 62 are non-teaching staff.
The school has enrolled 514 candidates to sit for this year’s national exams, 200 more from last year’s.
The Chief Principal says that with the guidance and preparations they have given to the candidates, she’s certain of a greater improvement from the previous examinations.
Rescuing the county’s face
The area MP, Stephen Mogaka, while visiting the school on Saturday, April 1, promised to reach out to other political leaders in Nyamira and the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Education, Ezekiel Machogu, to pull resources to help arrest the situation at the school.
Addressing the learners, Mogaka acknowledged the school for being the face of the county, promising to lead other leaders in assisting the school.
“The school has been the face of our county in the education sector and even in the co-curricular section and it really needs to be helped out so that our children will get the quality education and be the best the community can depend on,” said the MP.
The school intends to house more teachers in the school to improve teacher-student contact and close monitoring of learning in the institution.
Among the other stakeholders reached out to help out in sorting the infrastructure crisis is the alumni group, which the Principal started engaging a few months ago.
However, the school has not had an alumni forum, which Ms. Odhiambo noted was not a good gesture for a school of that stature.
During the launch, she gave them the responsibility of whipping all other former students to come together and do a project for the school as a way of giving back to their alma mater.
Tapping of the old girls
The alumni group was launched on November 5, 2022, in a ceremony held at the school grounds attended by over 200 old girls majoring in various professions within and outside the country.
Ms. Odhiambo noted that the aim of launching the group was to rally together and bring back old girls of Sironga to come back and reconnect with the school and give back to the community.
“All this is to bring back the old girls and reconnect them with the school and bring back development to the institution,” she said.
She observed that there has been a missing link between the school and its old girls and therefore needed to bridge the gap by starting off the alumni group.
“I challenged the girls to put up a dormitory because that is the area in which the school is facing some challenges. More students are joining our school due to our better performance every year in the national examinations. The old girls embraced the challenge,” said the Principal.
“The first agenda of the alumni is to put up a dormitory, and I left it to them to draw up their own roadmap, but the earlier, the better,” added Ms. Odhiambo.
The Chief Principal said the group was excited about the whole thing, vowing to leave a mark in the school as a form of giving back to the institution that shaped them.
“They are upbeat and believe there’s power in numbers, and the economic capability of Sironga old girls can never be underrated.
When they come together, each in her own ways can do great for the institution,” she added.
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The alumni will cut across and comprise every profession both in Kenya and those working and living in the diaspora.
The institution prides itself on the current Miss Universe Kenya, Ms. Sharon Obara, who is an old girl from the school.