Tombe Girls High School raising the bar of excellence

The school has been excelling and sending students to university.

Top students showcase their revision books after getting awarded. With them are Mrs. Rebecca Ondicho (in front), Deputy Principal Administration, Mrs. Jane Nyanumba, Principal (center), BoM Chair, Dr. Charles Nyandusi (next to principal) and a teacher (far end). PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
Top students showcase their revision books after getting awarded. With them are Mrs. Rebecca Ondicho (in front), Deputy Principal Administration, Mrs. Jane Nyanumba, Principal (center), BoM Chair, Dr. Charles Nyandusi (next to principal) and a teacher (far end). PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
  • As of today, it is a center of excellence for a whopping 1320 girls.
  • Every weekday, the teachers curve out time and avail themselves for academic consultation by students. 
  • The principal and her staff have also been keen on rewarding the students’ efforts.

We are a school of choice because we nurture our girls academically, spiritually and discipline-wise, shaping them to fit in the society 

Mrs. Jane Nyanumba, Principal, Tombe Girls High School.

Located in Manga Sub-County, Kitutu Masaba Constituency in Nyamira County, Tombe Girls High School is one of the public schools in Nyanza Region setting the pace through brilliance.

The now girls-only boarding high school, sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church, was established in 1967 as a Harambee secondary school, and was called Geta Girls Secondary School.

A year later, it started admitting boys and changed its name to Tombe Mixed Secondary School until 1995, when phasing out of boys started in efforts to reduce mixed secondary schools in the area.

An aerial view of Tombe Girls High School in Nyamira County. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

It, therefore, regained its initial status as the first girls’ only provincial boarding school in the District.

In 2018, as it grew and showed up in excellence, it was elevated to an extra-county caliber to accommodate students from within and beyond the county.

Population and staffing 

Over time, the school has grown in diverse aspects—student population, staffing, and infrastructure. 

As of today, it is a center of excellence for a whopping 1320 girls.

A section of the Tombe Girls' students during assembly. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
A section of the Tombe Girls’ students during assembly. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

To cater for the growing student population, it has 64 teachers, 35 of whom are employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), 22 by the Board of Management (BoM) and 7 on internship, and 19 support staff. 

“When I joined the school in 2015, it had barely 187 students,” the Principal, Mrs. Jane Nyanumba, told Scholar Media Africa in an interview, marveling at how the numbers have spiked in a few years. 

Mrs. Nyanumba in her office. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Mrs. Jane Nyanumba, Principal of Tombe Girls High School, in her office. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Infrastructural developments

It has taken concerted efforts to restructure Tombe Girls, especially after Mrs. Nyanumba became its principal.

“We developed a site plan indicating which building to be where. We also started reaching out to organizations for financial support for the construction. We further marketed Tombe Girls as a go-to for excellence and character nurturing,” Principal Nyanumba explains.

Part of the school's teaching staff during a capacity-building session recently. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
Part of the school’s teaching staff during a capacity-building session recently. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

She adds that they also stole the community’s confidence and of parents through exhibiting all-round excellence.

“We have 4 laboratories, 25 classes, 8 dormitories—with a new one, able to accommodate around 800 students—and an average-sized dining hall,” Rebecca Ondicho, the school’s Deputy Principal Administration, explains.

School bus. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
School bus. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

They also have a modern library which accommodates nearly 200 students in one sitting, and a computer lab and ICT room, enabling them to offer computer lessons.

Tombe Girls also boasts of a multi-purpose block housing the administration block and several classes, which is built from boarding savings, and has become the beautiful façade of the already-famous school.

A section of the school’s new Administration and Tuition block. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

Government, community

Mrs. Ondicho acknowledges the immense support the school has received from the national government, on whose courtesy they now have an almost-complete dormitory, a laboratory, and a borehole.

“We have had a great support from the government and we hope it will continue,” she hopes.

The nearly-complete dormitory with a bed capacity of 800 students, courtesy of Dr. Fred Matiang’i, former Interior CS. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

The county government of Nyamira has also offered support to the school, especially by giving bursaries to the students and fully sponsoring some of them. 

Worth remembering is that one of the greatest challenges most students face is the lack of school fees.

To accommodate this, however, “We allow the parents to pay in kind. They are also able to pay in installments,” says the deputy principal administration. 

The BoM, chaired by Dr. Charles Nyandusi and comprised of scholars, has also been instrumental in managing the school. 

It ensures the programs being offered are improving the students’ skills, mentoring the teachers, and also soliciting support from outside sources to fund projects in the school.

BoM Chair, Dr. Charles Nyandusi (center), Principal Nyanumba (fourth right) and other staff members during a prize-giving day in 2022. photo/Tombe Girls.
BoM Chair, Dr. Charles Nyandusi (center), Principal Nyanumba (fourth from right), and other staff members during a prize-giving day at the school last year. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

The Principal says that the community has also been supporting them and mutually benefitting from each other. 

From security by the security personnel around to the good name and ambassadorial efforts the community has been taking up for the school, to financial support whenever the institution has a fundraiser, among others.

Recently, the Safaricom Foundation built a science laboratory for the school, costing KSh4.8 million, and equipped it fully. 

Modern ccience laboratory by Safaricom Foundation. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
A section of the modern science laboratory funded by Safaricom Foundation and the Ministry of Education grants, courtesy of Dr. Fred Matiang’i. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

Discipline

“Discipline is a clear road to success,” notes Mrs. Ondicho, clarifying that the girls have grown in discipline and none has their hands. 

She explains that they have been improving discipline-wise, courtesy of the chaplaincy, lively Guidance and Counseling department and students’ desire to excel. 

Worth noting is that the principal, Mrs. Nyanumba, has nurtured an environment of listening to the students and allowing them to share their concerns without fear. 

She says that they usually open the suggestion box and address the issues as required. 

Tombe Girls prefects pose for a photo with their teachers during a leadership training recently. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

“They have trust in us because they know we will act,” she assures. 

No wonder they comfortably call her “mama” for her motherly care. 

Historia Maera, the school captain and a form four student, says that leading the students requires a great deal of their cooperation, which she appreciates them for offering. 

Sticking to hard work and leading by example, she notes that she usually carves out some extra time for studies to balance her academic-leadership boat. 

Academics

Mr. Jackson Nyambane, the Deputy Principal Academics, says that since the school was elevated, it has improved academically and otherwise. 

In 2021, with a candidature of 218 students, the school achieved a mean score of 6.01 in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.

Mr. Jackson Nyambane, the Deputy Principal Academics. PHOTO/Courtesy.

In 2022, with a candidature of 187 students, it rose to a mean score of 9.17.

With more determination, Tombe Girls is positioning itself for greater heights academically.

Gwaro Rebecca, the school’s current form four top student, says, “Once you listen to your teachers and go back to your books to read, it becomes easy to understand.”

Gwaro Rebecca, current form four top student. Behind her are Historia Maera, the school captain (left) and Sarah Orina, the Journalism Club Chairperson. PHOTO/Courtesy.

She reminds other students that to excel, they must push themselves to excellence, regardless of the school. 

“I expect an A in KCSE and I’m working towards that,” she asserts. 

Preparing for this year’s KCSE examinations, they have set their target mean at 9.50 and above, and are constantly equipping their hard-working candidates to achieve it and even override the expectations. 

On a Safaricom billboard, Benedict Kangotera, KCSE 2022 top student in Tombe Girls and the entire Nyamira County. She scored A- (76 points) and works with Equity Bank. PHOTO/Courtesy.

“I am optimistic; we are working day and night to achieve the target,” Mrs. Nyanumba asserts.

The school has 249 young minds set to sit for the 2023 national examinations. 

Strategies

The principal says that she’s ensuring the students, teaching staff, and stakeholders are working as a team. 

Typically, lessons begin at 6.50 a.m. to 1.20 p.m., enabling them to cover the syllabus on time. 

They then have remedial (extra classes) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., allowing more time for time-takers to grasp the nuances of every subject while also boosting the bright students.

A section of the staff members. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
A section of the staff members. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

Every weekday, the teachers avail themselves for academic consultation by students for at least half an hour. 

There are also other lessons fixed within the evening and weekend programs, in addition to the supervised morning and evening preps, allowing the students ample room for academic excellence.

They also have a mentorship program with Mang’u High School, doing their examinations and also having knowledge transfer sessions by examiners from Mang’u. 

The girls are simultaneously having many contests with other top schools in the region. 

HoDs during one of the training sessions. Workshops, capacity-building sessions and mentorship for staff is regularly done at Tombe Girls to keep every staff member refreshed. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
HoDs after one of the training sessions. Workshops, capacity-building sessions and mentorship for staff is regularly done at Tombe Girls to keep every staff member refreshed. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

“This allows them to compete better at a national setting. We also have academic families where teachers are assigned a few students to mentor, allowing easy follow-up and tracking to help every student perform well,” explains Mr. Nyambane.

From the classroom leadership to the Director of Studies, Heads of Departments, up to the Principal, very close and regular monitoring of syllabus coverage and seamless delivery of lessons seals all gaps.

“We have also had workshops for the staff, empowering, motivating and positioning them to deliver success,” says Mr. Nyambane.

Nurturing talent

“We are a school of choice because we nurture our girls academically, spiritually and discipline-wise, molding them to fit in the society,” says Mrs. Nyanumba. 

Soccer and Volleyball teams during county level competitions in the recent past. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
Soccer and Volleyball teams during county-level competitions in the recent past. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

According to the Principal, they have been keen on scouting for talent and nurturing the girls to explore their God-given abilities and gifts.

The institution gives them sufficient exposure and support in games and sports, journalism, robotics and science, music, environmental conservation, and other growth areas. 

They have performed and excelled even in national circles in recent years.

Tombe Girls Choir has also positioned the school on the national map, with its beautiful songs entertaining the world. 

AT Isebania High School, students from Tombe Girls during a Science Fair. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
AT Isebania High School, students from Tombe Girls during a Science Fair. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

Journalism club

The Journalism Club, founded in 2008, has been nurturing students to become journalists. 

It furnishes the school with stories from within and outside the school. 

“It is one of the most vibrant clubs in the school,” says Sebastian Ondieki, HoD Languages.

According to Bonface Andrew, the club’s patron, “The platform we give the students here allows them explore their talents, exciting their interests and leading some to take journalism in higher education.”

He highlights that the main challenge is lack of enough resources such as cameras, laptops, and editing software, among other journalistic paraphernalia.

Sarah Orina, the club’s Chairperson, says she has personally gained interviewing, editing, and news anchoring skills, adding that the members are exposed to different journalistic segments.

“We are mobilizing more students to join the club,” she says.

From left: Fridah Moraa, Editor, Journalism Club, Sarah Orina, the club’s Chairperson and Mary Claire Kemunto, outgoing Chairperson. PHOTO/Courtesy.

“It has developed my self-esteem and public speaking skills,” says Mary Claire Kemunto, the outgoing Chairperson.

Fridah Moraa, the club’s editor, adds that the write-ups have motivated more students on matters of talent and academics while also shaping the members for their journalistic ambitions. 

The club has already designed and published magazines, which they sell. 

At every end-year, the students have an awards and farewell ceremony for the club members. 

The department has been awarding the best of them through novels and books to upgrade their literary ability.

Awarding excellence

The principal and her staff have also been keen on rewarding the students’ efforts.

Top students, the best in each subject, and the top five most-improved students in each stream are rewarded in terms of cash, trips, exercise books, textbooks, and revision books.

Jackline Kebongo, HoD Languages, awarding prefects and best-performing learners during end-term one exams, and also issuing The Scholar newspaper to classes for use as an academic resource. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
Kebongo Astiba, Senior Teacher, awarding prefects and best-performing learners during end-term one exams, and also issuing The Scholar newspaper to classes for use as an academic resource. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

Challenges

Due to lack of funding, the school has been unable to construct a multi-purpose hall to accommodate the entire student population. The available one can only house around 600, and they are disrupted whenever it rains.

However, during his recent visit to the school on May 30, 2023, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu gave the school KSh10 million to boost its infrastructural developments. He also promised continued support to the institution.

CS Machogu was accompanied by Eliud Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary for ICT, who promised to give the school 50 computers for a digital literacy program. Also present was the Regional Director of Education, Nelson Sifuna.

Mrs. Nyanumba, Principal, with Education CS Ezekiel Machogu (center), ICT CS Eliud Owalo (next to CS) and other government officials after they visited the school. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.

This will offer the students more resources required in their academic endeavors.

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Currently, all the institution’s classrooms are occupied. However, according to the Deputy Prinicpal Administration, they are working to increase the number.

The school has, however, chosen to see beyond the challenges and has remained on an upward trajectory. 

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu addresses the media after visiting Tombe Girls on May 30, 2023. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
Education Cabinet Secretary, Ezekiel Machogu, addresses the media after visiting Tombe Girls. Accompanying him is Eliud Owalo (on his right), Cabinet Secretary for ICT. PHOTO/Tombe Girls.
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Mr. Makau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Media & Communication from Moi University, Kenya. He is a Columnist and Editor with Scholar Media Africa, with a keen interest in Education, Health, Climate Change, and Literature. His contact: b.makau@scholarmedia.africa.

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