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.