Like SHOFCO’s Grade 8 students, most students who sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams are 13 or 14 years old. Our Grade 8 girls received a mean score of 349 in the 2019 KCPE, with the top student scoring 404 out of 500 marks.
As students, parents and teachers celebrated their high scores, there was another celebration at SHOFCO – the 20 adult literacy students who also took the same KCPE, with the highest scores going to women aged 32 and 47.
32-year-old Rose Omamo received a remarkable 301 on the exam, all while juggling single parenthood and the challenges of life in the Kibera slum. Rose enrolled in SHOFCO’s adult literacy program in 2018: “I saw a poster when I had brought my child to SHOFCO health clinic. My hunger for education made me to ask one of the security guards what it was all about. He directed me to the office and that is how I found myself here,” she says.
Rose sat for this year’s KCPE alongside other 19 ambitious and committed adult learners. The mother of three says: “we had only 2 hours a day to attend classes from Monday to Friday. I could not make to school on some days due to tasking domestic chores or when my children became sick. But I used the little free time I had to read.”
Rose was forced to leave school at Grade Three due to family issues. “I did not have a chance to learn despite dreams of becoming a nurse. I had no other choice but to stay at home, do domestic chores and watch my friends go to school,” she says.
Without opportunities at home, Rose moved to Kibera 10 years ago hoping for a better life. “When I got here, I found out that the only available jobs were domestic chores such as washing clothes.”
Rose has learned that adult literacy is not for the fainthearted, and that without high commitment and extremely positive attitude, one cannot succeed in this demanding program.
She says, “Many people will try to discourage you. Some laughed at me when I told them I was studying and was going to sit for primary education exams. But, if you are committed to achieve your dream, age cannot limit you.”
Rose now hopes to enroll for secondary school education in 2020 and afterwards enroll in a nursing course. “I thank SHOFCO for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime. To me, getting a KCPE certificate is a very important step in my life. SHOFCO has ignited my dream of becoming a nurse.”
SHOFCO’s adult literacy program is open to all members of the community aged 16 and over and provides basic literacy and numeracy education. Registration for KCPE is voluntary and there are currently 223 adult learners enrolled across Kibera and Mathare.