Kabarak: Success begins right from Form One

When I entered his office, he stood and gave me a broad smile. He wore his trademark black suit and a red tie. I shook his hand.

The knuckles were soft, his grip tender. “Congratulations Alex,” he said beating me to it.

Henry Kiplagat, is the Moi High School Kabarak Executive Director, which emerged top school in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam results released on Thursday by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.

And as I congratulate Mr Kiplagat, he laughs heartily and reminds me that I am an alumnus. “We thank God and all of us deserve congratulations for good work,” he says as he settles on his leather seat.

A man of great detail, Kiplagat has been the Chief Principal of the school since 2001 and is the face behind the sterling performance.

He is however shy to take credit and discusses at great length the sacrifice his teachers and students make to put the school a cut above the rest.

“It is not me but team work. I only happen to be the team leader,” he says.

Last year’s performance was a record for the 36-year-old school. With the school registering 202 A plain, 78 A-, 8 B+ and one B- and an overall mean grade of 11.6643, it got the country abuzz.

The results were so impressive that one social media user observed that the school produced more As than those produced in five counties combined.

“Statistically Moi High School Kabarak Form Four class of 2015 produced 280 As. This is more than all the As produced in Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties. Amazing,” said Kalabata.

Nothing portrays the fact that Kiplagat was a product of a village day school, Maji Mazuri Secondary School between 1980-1983 before proceeding to Kabarnet High School for A-levels in 1984.

Perhaps it is his command of authority when he walks along the well-manicured lawns of Kabarak School and flawless command of the English language, which is not surprising as he undertook his postgraduate education at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.

But what makes Kabarak produce such results that it has become one of the most sought after school?

The chief principal says the magic lies in discipline, dedication, firmness and fairness. “As a leader, you have to be firm in decisions you make and again you must be fair.

Do not compromise ideals,” he says. After the release of the last year’s KCSE results, over 4,000 parents applied for their children to be considered for the 340 Form One slots.

Former students say Kiplagat whom they nicknamed Sir Kipling in relation to English genius poet Rudyard Kipling is a tough disciplinarian. Eng Victor Kimosop an alumni said the principal is a serious disciplinarian.

“He is bad news when it comes to discipline. If he finds you on the wrong end, there is no option but reform,” he says. “If you are wandering aimlessly and come across him, you better vanish into thin air. He can read the lie before you pronounce it. I kept safe distance by not breaking school rules,” he adds. Rule number five in the school says students should not walk around aimlessly.

The uniqueness of Kabarak is in how the students are symbolically viewed.

According to Kiplagat, any student received in the school is seen as a gift, a seed, a fruit, a tree and an arrow.

As a gift, students are received with thanksgiving.

Form Ones are met by all teachers led by the principal. “The reason for this meeting is to build confidence in them and induct them to the Kabarak culture. We talk to them to see the end from the beginning,” says the 49-year-old.

“Most schools begin working for KCSE results at Form Three and some Form Four. This is wrong approach because they start putting too much pressure on the students,” says Kiplagat.

He reveals that Kabarak teachers ensure that by the time students are in Form Four, the four year syllabus has been covered and the last year is for revision.

In the school, every single student is also seen as a seed to be planted in good soil. “We give them the very best in terms of tuition, accommodation, co-curricular activity and catering,” he says.

Just to know what the top students eat, Kiplagat says they feed on simple meals but well prepared.

“They eat githeri, they take uji,” he says smiling then adds, “Kabarak has no special meal and if your child needs a special meal, Kabarak is not the place for your child. It is a school where all students are treated equally no matter your background.”

And to ensure that students study while on holiday, they sit for exams the second day after reporting to school and three times in a term to assess progress and draw up a programme for remedial.

The school also has a very vibrant student-staff engagement where student leaders hold regular meetings with the principal to share and suggest ideas that are critical to the running of the institution.

“On weekly basis, I meet prefects who are the voice of students. They give out suggestions and where we think is good for the school and their welfare, we adopt them,” says Kiplagat.

The principal also holds meetings with teachers thrice a week for briefings on the school progress on academics and other matters that may arise and require his attention.

On the role of the former President Moi who is the founder and patron of the school, Kiplagat says he remains a great source of inspiration.

“He is a God-fearing man and great source of inspiration to the school. His humility touches all of us as Kabarak community and makes us to strive to do the best,” he says.

He notes that the school motto crafted by Moi, On Earth We Rise, makes everyone who joins the school to strive to always be on the top and contribute positively to the society.

“It is a well thought out motto and we nurture our students to go out and be the cream of the society, serve humanity with humility,” he adds.

Standard, Saturday, March 5th, 2016 - http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000193974/kabarak-success-begins-right-from-form-one

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