The Courage of WISER Girls

Susan is just one of the 32 fourth-year girls currently sitting for national exams

Right now, on WISER’s campus in Muhuru Bay, 32 girls are sitting in a room.

In front of them – a collection of papers, pencils, protractors, and one education official standing watch nearby. It’s a test. THE test – the KCSE. And, as of November 22nd, it’s been happening for 16 days.

The KCSE exam is daunting. It can be up to 11 subjects, covering biology, business studies, math, Swahili, history, geography, physics, and more. It can last over three weeks with a few day-long study sessions in the middle. Most importantly, the exam determines whether or not a student can go on to college after high school and, last year, over 66% of students across Kenya didn’t qualify.

For a student trying to blaze a trail for herself and for future girls, the exam is intense to say the least. But the WISER girls in that room right this minute are approaching the KCSE as only WISER girls can – with unbelievable courage.

Courage is a trait commonly found on WISER’s campus despite being rarely found outside of it. The WISER girls have been given a life-changing opportunity: to live and learn at WISER, to become among the first in their villages to finish school, to avoid illness and violence, to excel and thrive. With this, comes a natural amount of pressure that takes an unnatural amount of courage to bear. Yet, the girls do it with grace, power, and the knowledge that they have a network that believes in them every step of the way.

Ask around Muhuru Bay, and people will tell you how they think the girls are doing as they sit in this exam room:

The students are ready, we know they are.” “There is nothing to fear for them, success is coming.” “They are doing well, I know they can do well.” “This is a courageous group, you know.” All real comments by teachers, friends, sisters, neighbors, and more who have no doubt whatsoever that the WISER girls have the courage they need.

The courage in this group of girls comes not from ignoring their fear in this moment, but from feeling so prepared to overcome it that self-doubt disappears. After all, the WISER girls live on a campus that has built a history of success. Every year, 100% of WISER girls pass the KCSE. Last year, 100% of all WISER graduates enrolled in college or university. In fact, WISER girls, on average, score so highly on the KCSE that they earn scholarships at three times the national rate.

These are the types of results that these 32 girls feel are within their reach. They have had hundreds of hours of tutoring, guidance and counselling, peer mentorship, hands-on labs, and empowering workshops through WISER. They have overcome personal obstacle after personal obstacle and this latest challenge will not stop them.

So the girls sitting for the exam today are feeling courageous, and rightfully so. They are ready, they are supported, and no one has any doubt about the success coming to each and every one of them.

National results for the 2017 KCSE are likely to be released in late December. You can check back as we enter 2018 with the announcement of these results and join us as we celebrate the success of these courageous girls. 

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