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How Mathematics contest helped a student post good results in KCSE

Esther Love (left) flanked by her mother Rosemary Avoga at their home in Shibale estate in Mumias town…Photo/Andrew Ombuni


By CGN Reporter

Esther Love, a 17-year old girl made headlines in 2013 when she emerged one of the top most students in Western region after scoring 424marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Mukumu Primary School.

As the name suggests, Love is indeed the darling of her single mother, Ms Rosemary Avoga, a History and Kiswahili teacher at Namasanda Secondary School in Matungu constituency.

She brought joy to the family again, following the release of last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), when she scored an (A- minus) of 77 points at Bunyore Girls High School.

She scored plain A’s in Physics and Mathematics, which she said were her favorite subjects.

Ms Love is set to join Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) to pursue her dream course in Telecommunications Engineering.

But her success had many hiccups and some point, she almost gave up but with counseling from his mother and teachers at Bunyore Girls, she rediscovered herself and ended up posting exemplary results.

Speaking to the County Guardian News, Love says her dream school was Kenya High and was shocked when she was selected to join Bunyore Girls against her wish.

“I didn’t like Bunyore Girls from the first place. My eyes were all set to join Kenya High and this really affected my life at the school in Form one and Form Two respectively,” Love said.

“I used to perform dismally poor and everybody was like, she came to Bunyore Girls with 424 marks but she is not performing,” she said.

Love said life was difficult since she did not join the school of her choice, adding she was psychologically tortured to an extent of accusing her elder sister of not helping her to settle.

Hazel Peace, now at the  University of Nairobi (UoN) taking  a Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Surgery , was then in Form Three at the same school.

She asked her mother to help her be transferred to another school either Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega town or St Mary’s Girls High in Mumias town, adding there was no vacant for her and decided to remain at Bunyore Girls since French was a favorite subject also.

“I decided that is my life and that I will not listen to what people were saying about me and started improving in class work. My mother told me that all is not lost and I can do better,” she said.

“The more the people told me that I was a disgrace to my mother and that it’s not possible to perform exemplary like when in primary school, the more I absolutely became determined to prove my critics wrong,” Love said.

Love attributes her success to Bunyore Girls Mathematics and Physics teacher, Mr Fredrick Oraro, who advised her to change her mentality, sit down and work hard like her elder sister.

She said Mr Oraro was there always for her when she needed his advice.

“He was a fatherly figure to me and I pray that the almighty God gives him more years to continue helping other students arise and shine in their studies. He loves it when the girl-child excels in life,” Love said.

Love said in Form Three, there was Brookside Dairy Limited Mathematics contest a Kapsabet Boys High School and approached Mr Oraro to give her the chance to try her luck.

“I told him that all is not lost despite having performed poorly in Form One and Two. I knew I had redefined myself and that was going to make it. It was now time to prove my critics wrong,” she said.

After she was given the chance, she emerged the second but tied with her friend, Cheryl Mbarie, also a student at Bunyore Girls.

Love said the tie was broken at Kakamega High School when she also emerged number two after getting 30 marks out of the possible 50. Eden Obukasia emerged the winner with 31marks out of 50.

She said winners were being ranked according their gender saying Brookside Dairy then paid her Form Four school fees.

“Officials from the Brookside Dairy said I get 80 per cent of the scholarship since I had two times in previous contests. I was given sh80, 000 and Eden Obukasia, sh20, 000 since it was her first attempt,” she said.

She said Brookside Dairy eased the burden of paying school fees for her mother, adding it was a big boost to the family since her two elders sisters were also in school.

Love said she dedicated herself to classwork in a bid to ensure she does not disappoint her sponsors who had paid her school fees.

“Brookside Dairy should continue supporting the girl-child realize her dreams the way they helped me. The girl-child performs poorly in sciences and if the contests continue, they would have saved the future of the young girl’s thirsting to get quality education, “she said.

“I treated the word impossible as nothing more than motivation. I knew that I will never be successful unless I work extra smart. I dreamt bigger, a more innovative dream and a more inclusive dream. When 2017 results were out, I had an A- minus with Straight A’s in Mathematics and Physics,” she said.

Her mother, Rosemary Avoga, she always followed the progress of her three daughters and that they had an agreement that none of them should score below B+ plus.

Ms Avoga said whenever Esther Love and her sisters were at home, she would ensure they finish their homework and then study before going to shower, watch television or go out to play.

“Despite being a single mother, I laid a good foundation for them and all my three daughters have made me a proud mother,” she said.

Avoga also thanked Brookside Dairy for paying school fees for her daughter, adding she didn’t go for an emergency loan that year.

“Brookside Dairy really helped me and would like to thank the brainchild of this program. The idea was timely and they should not tire in doing the same to other parents. In my house, we decided, we will be cooking tea, using milk from Brookside,” Ms Avoga said.

On the other hand, Fredrick Oraro, heaped praise on his former student saying she was intelligent, hardworking and disciplined.

Mr Oraro said the students normally compete internally in Mathematics before the big day for the contest saying only the top ones were chosen to represent the school.

“I told her to go for the contest. At Maseno School and Kapsabet Boys, she was among the top contenders making her to represent Bunyore Girls at the Grand finale held at Strathmore University. She also did well,” Oraro said.

He said other students also worked hard to be like Esther, adding that in last year’s KCSE; the school had 80 A’s and 37 A- (minus) in Mathematics and 17 A’s and 27A- (minus) in Physics.

“A female student who does well in sciences, she stands to take an good engineering course at the university. The Brookside Dairy Ltd initiative has helped improve the girl child education,” Oraro said.

Oraro thanked Brookside for the program saying many students from the school are taking Brookside sponsored courses at Strathmore University.



Tobacco farmers grappling with poverty, illiteracy and chronic respiratory diseases

Charles Otegu in his kiln where he drys tobacco before taking to the industry in Kimaru village in malakisi-Photo/Courtesy


BY CGN Reporter

At least 12 per cent of Kenya’s adult population use tobacco products. This translates to 5.2 million Kenyans who are smokers.

Statistics from the Global Youth Survey of 2013 shows that 12.8 per cent of young men and 6.7 per cent of girls aged between 13-15 years use tobacco.

Kenya is among the leading producer of both raw tobacco and manufactured products in Africa but there is no evidence that tobacco revenue contributes to the growth of the country Gross Domestic Product.

Tobacco mainly is grown Western at Malakisi, Bumula, Lwandanyi, Mt Elgon and Chepkube. In Nyanza region in Homabay and Migori counties respectively. It’s also grown in Central and Eastern parts of the country.

In Kenya, British American Tobacco (BAT) controls at least 75 per cent of the market and Mastermind Tobacco (K) Ltd only 25 per cent.

Though, BAT and Mastermind Tobacco are ranked among the top 25 corporate that contribute to the growth of Kenya’s GDP which the taxman says its 7 per cent, accrued profits go to the companies’ shareholders.

But to smallholder tobacco farmers and their families in Malakisi and its environs , they live in abject poverty coupled with high illiterate levels, as income from their produce cannot enable them take their children to school.

This is a region whose soils were good for maize, beans, sorghum, cassava and millet farming but farmers resorted to tobacco with hope of getting good proceeds which never was.

For the last 10 years, tobacco farming in Bungoma has declined and area residents have opted to grow other cash crops to cushion them from hunger and starvation.

In an interview with the County Guardian News, Andrew Barasa from Okimaru village in Malakisi, who is now a boda boda operator says BAT and Mastermind, pays farmers poorly.

He said tobacco firms have devised treachery methods of exploiting the farmers by grading their produce inappropriately so that they can accrue huge profit margins.

Okimaru said, majority of the farmers their produce is given the least grade which attracts sh40 as compared to farmers in Central and Eastern Kenya where they are paid over sh200 per kilo.

“Tobacco farming is labour intensive. Land preparation, seed planting and growing, curing, sorting and grading. This takes 10 months every year and when you take to the company for sale, you are paid wages which is delayed for even two years,” Okimaru claimed

He said farming of the crop prevents them from time and space for growing food crops alongside tobacco plants, adding they are now faced with inadequate food and diseases.

He also claimed that Mastermind Tobacco has even not paid their farmers for the last three years despite delivering their produce.

“I delivered 2000kilos of tobacco at Mastermind tobacco two years ago. They told us they will pay sh220 per kilo but up to date, I have not been paid.  I have three children in secondary school and have since dropped out of school over lack of fees,” claimed Maurice Okiring, a tobacco farmer from Changara in Teso North constituency.

Mr Okiring said in the 90s they used to get good pay and hard cash on delivery, saying, they used to also get an extra sh6 as transportation fee per kilo.

He said the current management of tobacco companies in Malakisi is out to impoverish them at the expense of them making huge profits.

But Mastermind Tobacco manager at Malakisi Francis Mutinda declined to comment on the matter saying he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Mr Mutinda then referred us to one Anthony Mungai (corporate affairs manager), who is based in Nairobi but did not pick our calls or respond to our text messages.

Bishop Daniel Makecho, from Perfectors House of Power ministries-Bungoma, from Chebukuyi village-where tobacco is also grown, said their parcels of land are now unproductive.

Bishop Makecho said the chemicals that are used in tobacco framings destroy nutrients in the soil making it unproductive.

“A farmer is forced to use a lot of fertilizer to produce food. The price of DAP, CAN and Urea is very high and you cannot plant without fertilizer as you will reap nothing.” Makecho said.

Mr Makecho said most farmers have now stored tobacco in their houses since they do not have a ready market for it, adding they now wait cartels from Uganda to sell them their produce at a slightly improved price.

“The two tobacco factories have also caused a lot damage to the environment. Tobacco curing involves burning wood to smoke and dry harvested tobacco leaves, requires chopping down trees, which has led to deforestation of indigenous tree species and the drying of Malakisi River,” he said.

He said they plant eucalyptus trees that use a lot of water instead of indigenous trees that protects water catchment areas.

Merab Nafula, a widow, claimed that BAT-Malakisi are normally given farm inputs to grow tobacco as loan on condition, when you take your produce to the company, they deduct their money

But Nafula says upon delivery of their produce, when the final mature leaves are sold, the cost of the loan advanced to them as farm inputs is deducted from the payment to the farmers.

“Most of the farmers’ at BAT-Malakisi ends up making little profit, some end up getting nothing due to poor grading system,” Nafula said.

“Sales of tobacco leaves are under the control of the tobacco companies. The leaves are under- graded and sold lower-than-market prices. This is what is making us poor,” she said.

But in a quick rejoinder, British American Tobacco-Kenya – Simukai Munjanganja, Head of Legal and External Affairs dismissed the claims by farmers of poor pay, cutting down of trees and under grading of their tobacco as mere rhetoric.

Mr Munjanganja said  BAT pays contracted tobacco farmers an average of sh 230 per Kilo of tobacco for the top grade, adding that they pay higher prices as compared to the current average market price of Sh. 167.

He also dismissed claims that BAT was using a lot trees and don’t plan news saying all BAT Kenya’s contracted farmers receive 20 conventional tree seedlings for every 100kg of tobacco and another 10 tree seedlings of fast maturing eucalyptus clonal hybrids, to each contracted farmer.

“In 2017 season we produced 750,000 tree seedlings in Malakisi, where 661,298 were issued to farmers and the rest allocated to other afforestation initiatives,” he said.

However, apart from the problems facing farmers, tobacco brings health complicated problems to farmers and smokers.

According to Dr Gordon Nguka, a lecturer of Nutrition and Dietetics at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) says  tobacco farmers are suffer from chronic lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, asthma and cystic fibrosis.

He said they are infected when they are curing tobacco and during the farming process as a result of the nicotine in it.

Dr Nguka said they are also infected with bronchiectasis. “Unborn children can also be affected as it leads to intra-uterine underdevelopment of pregnant women,”

“For smokers and those who do not smoke but are around smokers, they get infections of the upper respiratory track and cancer of the lungs,” Dr Nguka said.



Controversy as land meant for construction of Sh3b coffee lacks title deed

Controversy as land meant for construction of Sh3b coffee lacks title deed...Photo/Andrew Ombuni


By Andrew Ombuni

Plans by investors to set up a Sh3 billion coffee factory in Kakamega County have hit a brick wall.

Ownership dispute surrounding a seven-acre piece on which the coffee processing plant was to be constructed has stalled the project.

Western Community Health Association (Wecohas) Coffee Ltd was set to embark on construction works of the Coffee Mill at Ekapwonje village on a parcel of land that has been lying fallow for the last 20 years following the collapse of Kibuma Coffee Factory in 1984.

The County Guardian News has established that the disputed land was donated to Kibuma factory by one Andati Amakati, a local who has since died.

However, there was no ownership transfer of the property and now; the family of Mr Amakati is opposed to the project.

The project is being funded by three European countries; Sweden, Norway and Britain that jointly form the Scandinavian Care Foundation. The factory was serving coffee farmers from in Kakamega and its environs before it collapsed.

Machines were vandalized after the factory closed shop. This forced many farmers to uproot their coffee bushes and ventured into planting other cash crops including sugarcane and maize.

The disputed plot has been encroached on by locals who used to live near the moribund factory.

The collapse of the Kibuma Coffee factory was instigated by the infamous Chepkube Black Market for coffee in 1977 in Mt Elgon where businessmen and politicians became overnight millionaires.

According to Ben Mungo, a coffee farmer, he said cartels used exploit coffee farmers in the area and would sell it at Chepkube market.

“Middlemen lured farmers to sell them Coffee cherries at throw away prices. They could also steal our coffee, a matter that saw Kibuma get inadequate raw material for processing,” Mr Mungo said.

Mr Mungo said property worthy Sh50 million was vandalized bringing the factory to its knees. But now Amakati’s family is demanding for compensation from the County Government of Kakamega before allowing the investor to revive the factory.

Speaking to the County Guardian News, 84-year-old Charles Lipuku, Amakati’s son said as a clan, they were not against the move by Wecohas Coffee Ltd to put up the factory but want to be compensated first.

“We are not against plans to construct a new factory in our parcel of land but what we want is compensation so that we can resettle our families,” Mr Lipuka said.

“We are living in squalor. When the land was given out, we were not many but the family has since grown and unless we are compensated to enable buy alternative settlement land elsewhere, the project will not work.”

But Kakamega County Executive Member (CEC) for Lands, Urban and Physical Planning Alfred Matianyi said the family has not communicated to his office.

“Let them do an official letter to my ministry so that i can take necessary action. The government does not operate in a vacuum and necessary procedure has to be followed in solving the matter amicably,” Mr Matianyi said.

Butsotso South MCA Walter Andati has called on the county government to listen to the family before going ahead with any development plans on the said piece of land.

“The project is good but we have to be kind enough to compensate the affected families. Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Lurambi MP Titus Khamala should look for money to compensate them,” he said.

Lydia Nyangala, Wecohas Coffee Ltd Marketing and Communications officer told the Standard that they will ensure the family is compensate before the construction of the new factory begins.

“We want to start the construction works, we are engaging relevant authorities and the family to address the compensation hitch before embarking on serious work.”

Ms Nyangala said they were also giving coffee farmers who had uprooted their trees 1000 stems to plant at a cost of sh5000.

“1000 stems can be planted at an acre piece of land and will mature after three years. The trees can produce up to 50kilos of coffee cherries and we will be buying it at sh200 per kilo to cushion our farmers from middlemen,” Ms Nyangala said.


Needy Student who hawked Sukuma Wiki to raise school fees joins form one

Addah Musungu in class with fellow students. She has been hawking sukuma wiki in Kayole slums to raise school fees for the last three months...Photo/Andrew Ombuni

By Andrew Ombuni

The needy student who was selling Sukuma Wiki to raise money to join Form One in Kayole slums has finally joined her dream school.

Addah Musungu aged 14 years, was admitted at St Mary’s Mwea Girls High School in Kerugoya.

Musungu, who scored 345 marks in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams at Esvak Community Centre and had not joined school three months after form one students after closure of form one admission.

This is after The County Guardian News highlighted her case a week ago.

Butere MP Tindi Mwale paid her form one school fees and Kenyans from all walks of life contributed money for her shopping.

Speaking to the County Guardian News after admission, Addah thanked the media for highlighting her needy situation that saw Kenyans raise money for her to join Form One.

The 14-year-old looked energized and cheerful, and said she was enthusiastic to pursue her career dream of becoming an accountant in future.

‘‘I want to extent my sincere appreciation to the County Guardian Newspaper for making my case known to the World. I will work hard and ensure they write again my story after 4-years when I would have passed KCSE with flying colours, “Addah said.

Adding “I thank God for answering my prayers, my future looks bright, I promise to not let you down and  I want to assure Kenyans that I will re-write the history of St Mary’s Mwea Girls,’’.

She said some of her peers had started pumping unbelief to her that she won’t make through the secondary school life, saying she dismissed them for adding no value to her life.

“I treated the word impossible as nothing more than motivation. What I know, whatever your dreams have today, just dream even bigger, wherever you have set your sights, raise them even higher and prove your distractors wrong,” said Addah

St Mary’s Mwea Girls High School deputy Principal Jane Muthoni Mwangi, who admitted her, said as a school they will do everything humanly possible to assist the needy student achieve her dreams.

Ms Mwangi said the girl for was determined to get education at all costs when she started hawking Sukuma Wiki in a bid to raise her school.

“A 14-year old girl hawking Sukuma Wiki to raise school fees is quite an encouragement. If she had raised Sh2, 500 in two months’ time and at the same time had ensured she maintains her float, that is a serious student whose dreams are alive,” said Ms Mwangi.

Mr Francis Musungu, Addah’s father was overjoyed after seeing her daughter join her dream school.





Physical inactivity, fourth leading factor of Mortality rate, higher to those with disability

Washington Onyino Chief Justice (boarding master) presides over the swearing in ceremony for cabinet secretaries of Daisy Special School in Kakamega town. Research shows Physical inactivity, fourth leading factor of Mortality rate, higher to those with disability…Photo/Ong’ang’a Ochudho


By CGN Reporter

Its games time and we arrive at Daisy Special School in Kakamega town; we found students out on the field playing.

Daisy Special School admits students with special cases and those without disabilities.

The students who have no disability can be seen playing on the pitch.

Students with various forms of disability can also be seen seated on wheelchairs whereas others standing on crutches helplessly since they are not in a position to work out for physical fitness.

We met with Enos Emase, who suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot sit properly. He is sitting on a goal post watching helplessly as his fellow students are on the pitch playing.

In an interview with the County Guardian News, he said it’s difficult for him to be found on the pitch playing like other students playing since he cannot walk uprightly and his body aches most of the time.

“I only watch as my fellow students play. I wish I had legs to play like them but it’s difficult for me.  I cannot engage in activities that require a lot of energy in order to keep my body fit and even the infrastructure at the school is unfriendly,” he said.

He says lack of physical exercise has affected his mobility since his abdominal muscles are weak. “I find it difficult to sleep as I am always in pain,”

But Rosemary Obiero, principal of Daisy Special School said the students have the perception that they do not fit in the society like how other able bodied children do thus losing their self-esteem.

Ms Obiero said it is very hard to involve them in a serious physical activity since they will get injured and in the long run unable to manage their injuries.

“We do not have trained teachers who can help the students carry out their physical exercise. We urge the government and other institutions of good will to help special schools nurture the students well,” she said.

Joash Bariti is an amputee is from Kabras Centre for the Disabled. He hails from Lukhokho village in East Kabras, Malava Sub County.

Mr Bariti says a small wound that was on his leg developed into a growth leading to the amputation of his right leg.

“I rarely do physical exercise as whenever I try to keep fit by even walking a kilometer, my body will be in great pain,” he said.

David Wechenje-24 years old (Kabras Centre for the Disabled) is crippled and walks with support of crutches. He says there is no a specific place set aside from where he can do exercise to keep his body fit.

Mr Wechenje said there is lack of information on how they can carry out physical exercise and more so they don’t have assistive devices.

However, in Kenya lack of physical activity causes at least 27 per cent of all deaths that can be managed through physical exercise which is the 4th risk factor of global mortality by World Health Organization (WHO).

Scientists aver that lack of physical exercise among adolescents is the major contributor to the increasing cases of diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression and osteoporosis among Kenyans especially those living with disabilities.

According to WHO, ailments that resulted from non-communicable diseases accounts for 27 per cent of all deaths suffered by Kenyans aged between 30 and 70 years which are equivalent to almost 370,000 people annually.

WHO says that death robs the country of skilled man-power which reduces productivity thus hindering the growth of the economy?

WHO asserts that over 14 million people die each year from non-communicable diseases between the ages of 30 and 70, of which 85 per cent of deaths are in developing countries.

Eileen Mulaa a sports scientist from the department of Exercise Science and Recreation Management at Kenyatta University told the Standard yesterday that the probability of dying too young from these ailments is 18 per cent.

Ms Mulaa said the main risk factors include smoking, lack of physical exercise, unhealthy diets and overconsumption of alcohol, adding that non communicable diseases contribute to over 50 per cent of inpatient admissions in the country.

“Regular physical activity increases strength and endurance, aids in building of healthy bones and muscles, helps in weight management and reduces anxiety and stress,” Ms Mulaa said.

But over the years persons living with disabilities are the most affected in which research shows that disability and disabling factors continue to burden the youth in the country as majority of them do not meet the required time spent doing physical activity.

The departments of Health Promotion and Sports Science and Nutritional Science of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) carried out a study on the need of school going adolescents with disabilities in Kakamega County should be involved in physical activities.

The study assessed social and environmental determinants of participation in physical activities among school going adolescents with disabilities.

The lead researcher was Ednah Mogaka and assisted with Dr Peter Bukhala and Gordon Nguka.

The study is published Journal of Sports and Physical Education and was carried out between January – August 2017 and launched last month.

The study was targeting students from special schools and integrated primary and secondary schools in Kakamega County.

During the research, a total 200 were sampled where 127 boys and 73 girls. They were aged between 10 to 21 years old with 43 per cent of them being between 13-15 years.

At most 79 per cent of the sampled students were from special schools, 17.5 per cent in special units and 3.5 per cent integrated in primary and secondary schools.

At least 31 per cent were found to be active three times a week with a high number of them being active at 39 per cent active during school’s scheduled games time.

Socially, the students indicated that their participation in physical activity is necessitated by the encouragement they get from friends and peers which stood at 58.5 as compared to family which was 38.5per cent and teachers 35 per cent.

Lack of proper facilities where the students with disability could exercise stood at 58.5 per cent and appropriate equipments to facilitate their body functionality was 63.5 something that discouraged them from being active in school.

It was found out that lack of adequate and proper facilities/equipment and poor physical exercise (PE), games and sports implementation limits them from participating in physical activities.

Ms Mogaka said they found out that majority of the students did not meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily, adding that schools need to adapt programs and provide for more structured, disability specific physical activities  to increase their participation.

She said that the students with physical disabilities find movement stressful and prefer not to participate in any physical activity unless support systems are put in place to ease their movement.

Dr Peter Bukhala, a scientist with specialty in sports disability asked Education Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohamed to ensure all schools in the country have appropriate facilities and equipments designed for students with disability to ensure they do physical exercise daily.

“Equipments and facilities used by adolescents with disabilities can be specifically designed for the type of disability or adapted from the existing ones to allow an individual engage in physical activity that is not possible with normal provision,” he said.

“There is need for increased awareness and training among family members and teachers to increase support and advocacy on the importance of students and adults with disability to be involved in physical activities,” said Bukhala.





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