Low en­rol­ment the bane of in­se­cu­rity-prone school


Hola Boys Sec­ondary School, the only na­tional boys' school in Tana River County, is pop­u­larly known as “Hola Bar­racks” be­cause of its rich his­tory, and the fact that many of its for­mer stu­dents join the mil­i­tary.

The school was opened 62 years ago through a haram­bee, and with only 10 stu­dents. But is has come a long and now boasts more than 400 stu­dents. How­ever, the jour­ney has not been smooth for the county's fore­most learn­ing in­sti­tu­tion be­cause, de­spite its el­e­va­tion, most stu­dents in­vited to join Form One con­tinue to shun it.

For in­stance, of the more than 200 stu­dents in­vited last year, only 26 re­ported. But even be­fore the year ended, six of them trans­ferred to schools out­side the county.

This year, the school in­vited 170 Form Ones with 330 marks and above, but by Fri­day last week, only 12 had re­ported.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion is now con­tem­plat­ing ad­mit­ting stu­dents with 250 marks and above will­ing to join the school in or­der to have a “quo­rum”, in line with Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion re­quire­ments.

“We are head­ing into the sec­ond week of the term, but the stu­dents we ex­pected from Kil­ifi and Mom­basa coun­ties have not yet re­ported. No stu­dent from Nairobi or Cen­tral has ever re­ported, but that not­with­stand­ing, we need a quo­rum,” lamented Prin­ci­pal Stan­ley Moto.

Var­i­ous rea­sons have been cited by ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers for the school's low en­rol­ment, the ma­jor one be­ing the per­cep­tion that Tana River County is prone to ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“After the 2012 clashes, no­body wants to bring their child here and it gets worse ev­ery time there is an at­tack, with the ab­duc­tion of an Ital­ian vol­un­teer in Novem­ber last year mak­ing the sit­u­a­tion even worse,” Mr Moto said.

He re­gret­ted that from time to time, par­ents seek to trans­fer their chil­dren from the school, cit­ing in­se­cu­rity.

The state of the roads is an­other fac­tor, with par­ents com­plain­ing that it takes too long to reach the school.

The school also has been strug­gling to make a mark in the re­gion, but in vain.

“When stu­dents don't take up the of­fers for ad­mis­sion, we are forced to ad­mit stu­dent with low marks so that we can have enough num­bers to teach.

Short­age of teach­ers

“As a re­sult, our re­sults have not been very good,” he said.

Last year the school had a mean score of 3.7 in the Kenya Cer­tifi­cate of Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion, which the ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tributes to in­dis­ci­pline among stu­dents.

Two stu­dents scored B mi­nus, while five scored C plus and are el­i­gi­ble to join univer­sity this year.

Mean­while, the school has to deal with lack of staff quar­ters, a short­age of teach­ers, and in­ad­e­quate learn­ing ma­te­ri­als.

A mod­ern li­brary and com­puter lab­o­ra­tory at Hola Boys Sec­ondary School, the only na­tional boys’ school in Tana River County. Many stu­dents from other coun­ties in­vited to join Form One turn down the of­fers, cit­ing in­se­cu­rity and the bad con­di­tion of the road. No stu­dent from Nairobi or Cen­tral in­vited to the school, has ever showed up.

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