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High school students work very hard in Kenya, especially at boarding schools where they are tasked with up to sixteen hours a day of classes and studying. This whole experience is considered like a preparation for a single, comprehensive, three-week examination at the end of high school. Despite this tremendous workload and intense pressure to perform, most students see education as the key to a better life, and they place great value on the opportunity to work hard each day at school.

Kenyan high school students face a rigorous academic curriculum, typically spanning four years. The curriculum is structured to prepare students for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, which is a crucial determinant of their future educational and career prospects. The KCSE examination covers a wide range of subjects including Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, Sciences and Humanities. Students are expected to perform well in these subjects to secure a place in higher education institutions. Consequently, high school students in Kenya often find themselves under immense pressure to excel academically.

The pressure to succeed academically can lead to a myriad of challenges and struggles for Kenyan high school students. Many students face long hours of studying and homework, often sacrificing leisure and family time. Additionally, the lack of resources and overcrowded classrooms in some schools can hinder the learning process. Moreover, the competition among students is intense, leading to high-stress levels and fear of failure. The weight of expectations from parents, teachers, and society can be overwhelming for many students.

But how can one survive in high school? Let me share some insights with all of us:

First one should avoid bad company. Many students back in form one fail miserably in this step. They feel on top of the world for having cleared Primary education and maybe passed with flying colors. Well, what many of them forget is that there is a whole new life waiting for them. Most students in form one do not know how to manage their time well and as a result, they start indulging themselves in bad company. This in turn affects their good morals and soon this is reflected in their dismal academic performance. A bright student always puts God first and other things soon work out for themselves.

Secondly, relate well with fellow students and teachers. Now that I said you avoid bad company, this does not mean that you should not relate with others. Make peace with everyone and respect others. You do not have to demand respect from anyone, this will just come automatically.

Despite the academic pressures, Kenyan high schools place a significant emphasis on extracurricular activities. These activities provide students with opportunities for personal growth, skill development and social interaction. Sports, drama clubs, debate teams, and music ensembles are common in Kenyan high schools. These activities allow students to explore their talents and interests beyond the classroom. They also foster a sense of community and teamwork among students.

Well enough talk on the things we all know about high school. Let me take you to another journey where we get to see one testimonial about how high school really is:

First disclosure; names will be withheld; “When I joined high school I knew I was the smartest person. I expected it to be more like when I was in primary, a star or something. but to my surprise there were brighter stars. So I decided to work hard but with nobody following up like in primary, I lost focus, self-pity, wrong company. In the form two corona came and I wished we could just repeat so that I could get time to catch up and that did not end up happening. So when we resumed school, I worked even harder, became friends with my teachers, especially math teachers. I really got to improve but in Chemistry I never had much luck. I got to form four, I had a lot of expectations since I used to study in the late night when people were asleep and woke up at three. According to grades, we were dismantled in form four and I was in the fifth cohort. We used to encourage each other even though we can still make it. Basically, for me, high school is like prison. I have seen so many girls try to commit suicide there. We had a period where girls were drinking detergents like jik due to pressure. One of my friends even went to the extent of becoming insane due to too much reading but she is now recovering. In high school a person just needs God, otherwise it is a place that can seriously break someone.”  I immediately broke into tears after hearing this story. But well I guess there is just so much that we need to uncover in our high schools.

In conclusion, the life of a high school student in Kenya is marked by academic challenges, social experiences, and cultural significance. It is a time of intense learning and personal growth as students strive to excel academically while engaging in extracurricular activities and forging lifelong friendships. The Kenyan high school journey is a testament to the resilience and determination of its students as they navigate the path toward a brighter future.

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