, BY MARGARET WERE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – Loreto Convent Msongari produced one of the top scorers in Nairobi during last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams.
This may not come as a surprise had it not been for the bus accident that the candidates were involved in four months prior to sitting the examinations.
The top scorer, Sandra Gitau who scored 422 out of a possible 500 marks, lost an arm during the accident and was the head girl of the school.
Headmistress Sister Pauline Macharia said the school got involved in intense counselling for the candidates to ensure that they were in the right frame of mind to sit the exams.
“This has been the highest score that Msongari has achieved in many years and we are proud of all our girls. The school reassured the candidates that we believe in them and are confident that they were capable and they did not disappoint,” she said.
It was out of this confidence in the pupils that all the candidates chose to sit for the examinations including two with arm amputations and three who had serious facial injuries.
The Msongari girls’ school bus carrying Standard 7 and 8 pupils to an educational trip was involved in an accident on the Meru-Nanyuki highway on July 29 last year when their vehicle rammed into another stationary bus.
The accident claimed the lives of two students, one in standard 7 and the other a candidate. Several pupils also lost their limbs and the school has initiated several fundraising initiatives to acquire prosthetics (specialised artificial limbs) for them.
“Our school system is one that promotes positive attitude in the students and Sandra’s performance did not come as a surprise because during last year’s prize giving day she clinched the award for the student who represents the Msongari spirit,” adds Sister Pauline.
“We believe that the support system that the school enjoys both from fellow parents, teachers and the church had a lot to do with the great performance. The counselling was not only for the pupils involved in the accident but for others in the primary and secondary sides of the school as well.”
“We promote a culture where the pupils and students see each other as sisters and they were affected too,” she adds.
The school is now focusing on getting this year’s candidates prepared for their end of year exams. Sister Pauline who took over the management of the school immediately after the accident added that the institution made sure that those injured felt loved. “We still monitor the pupils’ emotions to ensure that there is no relapse.”
Displayed close to her office, a plaque reads “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
All the pupils have been discharged; however one of them was re-admitted on Tuesday to undergo further surgery.
The school expressed gratitude to the media which highlighted the plight of the pupils and publicised the fun day organised for fundraising. It is as a result of the publicity that many corporate institutions and individuals brought in contributions.
The school in now however faced with the challenge of shielding the pupils from further publicity. “We are careful not to make them feel like celebrities but lead normal lives and they have already adjusted quite well.”
The pupils know that they are independent and can deal with any challenge that is thrown at them. Six months after the accident, the school is back to normal.