By Suleiman Hassan
When the 2014 KCSE results were announced on Tuesday, The entire Mandera County broke in to song and dance to celebrate a historic achievement by one of their own.
For the first time in the history of Mandera, a student scored a straight ‘A’ in the national secondary school examinations – K.C.S.E.
18 year old Ibrahim Ali who hails from a remote settlement known as Ficharo scored a strong A of 81 points against all odds.
Mandera’s pride was first taken through Islamic education in an informal educational center known as dugsi locally where Quranic lessons are taught by a single teacher assisted by one senior most student in the institution.
Here, Students as young as 5 years memorize the Quran in less than three years. Other lessons include Tawheed (doctrine of “the Oneness” of God), Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Hadeeth ( the corpus of the reports of the teachings, deeds and sayings of prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) and Seerah (biography or way of life of Prophet Muhammad please be upon him).
The education program is multi-year and builds on itself to create a well-rounded curriculum.
When he completed his duqsi studies, he was taken to school not by his parent but by his duqsi teacher who saw his potential.
Although this important institution is not mainstreamed in the educational system of country, it has played a vital role in early child hood development among Muslims.
Students who first start with this form of education are known to outshine in secular schools their colleagues who never set foot there.
Ibrahim joined primary school in 2007 and due to his brightness, teachers used to make him jump some classes. This enabled him to catch up with the 2010 K.C.P.E. class meaning that he took only 3yrs to complete his primary education, an erstwhile 8 year journey.
When the KCPE results were announced, Ibrahim led Mandera DEB primary school with 367 marks and was admitted to Mandera Secondary School.
At Mandera Secondary, he continued to shine and was known to lead his class. Unfortunately, his exemplary academic journey was cut short by lack of school fees and he dropped out at Form two.
Luckily, the principal of Sheikh Ali High school came to his rescue and offered him a two year scholarship that enabled him to complete his secondary school education.
At Sheikh Ali, he was not only leading in class but also in extra curricula activities. He was the Chairman of the student’s council.
Mandera County has been grappling with teacher shortages as non-local teachers boycotted class following the killing of their colleagues by Al Shabaab in November last year.
Ibrahim’s school, Sheikh Ali is located in Rhamu, the center-stage of the tribal clashes that rocked the county.
He hopes that peace will be restored in the town so that education is not interrupted.
“We have been fighting in Rhamu, but I did not look at that because I wanted the best academically, so that on day I can put some sense in our people,” said Ibrahim, who wants to study medicine.
Contrary to notions held in the region, Ibrahim says North Eastern has what it takes to perform well in national examinations.
“We can be number one in the entire nation,” he said.
He attributes his success to discipline and hard work.
“I had many restless days and sleepless nights with extensive reading. I am happy it paid off and I thank God for giving me this grade,” Ibrahim said.
One good turn, they say, deserves another. In the wake of biting teacher shortages in the County and the region at large, Ibrahim has been giving back to the society.
He works as an untrained teacher at Towfiiq Secondary School, where he teaches Biology and Chemistry.