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School fee crisis spurs top KCPE students to apply for scholarships

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Amidst national reports of students struggling to afford secondary school fees, Daraja Academy has received over 320 applications for 30 available spots in its Form 1 class. Amongst them, the admissions teams were surprised to discover many applications from students with extraordinary KCPE scores in the 390s and 400s. These scores are significantly higher than those traditionally seen by Daraja Academy.

Daraja Academy, a private, secondary girls’ school located outside Nanyuki, provides full boarding scholarships to every student. The number and quality of applicants seeking Daraja Academy scholarships are consistent with numerous stories of students’ secondary school funding crises heard nationwide. While administration at Daraja Academy is pleased with the quality of the applications, it is saddened to be turning away so many exceptional students who have no other means of continuing their education. They fear this increase in applications is reflective of a broader crisis in Kenya: a flood of high-achieving primary school students who cannot access the secondary education they have worked so hard to attain.

Founded in 2009, Daraja Academy has graduated 151 students. After 2017 KCSE scores were released in December, Daraja Academy was ranked 1st in Laikipia East District and 2nd in Laikipia County. The school provides a unique “Transition Program” designed to fill the gap between KCSE exams and entrance into higher education with career and life skills training. Over 80% of Daraja Academy students qualify for college and university.

Although Daraja Academy is heading towards expansion, this month the administration will still be forced to deny nearly 300 intelligent, hard-working Kenyan girls who have succeeded at their KCPEs. These girls all deserve the opportunity to attend secondary school, even if they cannot afford their school fees.

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