By Mbarak Abucheri
Cheptais Elite Academy in Cheptais,Mt Elgon Sub-county Bungoma County has been and still the academic giant for a decade now known to be a Muslim sponsored school but wallowing in devastating state due to poor political goodwill and poor financial status of Muslims in the region.
The school that began in 1998 and did its first KCPE exams in 2004 has continuously excelled in the performance and send dozens of its candidates to National and excellent County schools with Mean grade of 338 for the 10 years of existence.
Founding Director and CEO Abdallah K. Chemaswet said the institution was established to be leading provider of affordable, sustainable quality education with view to accommodate the less fortunate in the society for the pleasure of Allah and prepare them to be responsible persons in the society.
“The school is a Muslim community owned with the aim of nurturing Muslim pupils in both secular and religious studies though open to the general public. Currently, we have a population of 262 pupils with 62 Muslim pupils among them 32 female pupils and 30 boys,” said Abdallah.
Abdallah added the school being Muslim sponsored gets no attention from the local leaders who are mainly Christians and who have always been craving to buy it off adding that they rejected loudly an offer of Sh8M from a politician who wanted to buy it.
The Director, flanked by the School Head teacher Bernard Odhiambo and Deputy Halima Wakoli said they are facing a lot of challenges that has made it difficult to develop the school infrastructural and calling on well-wishers and Muslim community globally to aid it.
“The School currently sponsors 80 pupils with only a quarter of class 8 candidates paying fees that include food and accommodation with examination fee their parents can’t afford. The support comes from the few who are paying fees and this has terminated development leaving the schools dilapidated,” said Odhiambo.
The tuition blocks made of simple poles and mud that have been attacked by termites serves as the classrooms and girls boarding which have remained weak to young ones danger and the health department twice threatening to close it.
“The roofs have been blown up by winds twice and we have all time put back torn iron sheets’ now leaking which affects classes during rainy season as students have to cluster in corners with their books, a scenario that have seen many parents move out their children with willingness to bring them back when structures are better,” added Abdallah.
The both Boarding and Day school that topped last year’s KCPE in the Cheptais District has no Kitchen and dining hall with the pupils finding it hard to enjoy the life of a boarding and an academy. The teachers are hard working despite poor pay but are contented seeing the desperate young pupils finding their ways to good schools at their hands and getting sponsors.
“Masomo Foundation, Equity’s Wings to Fly and other organizations have sponsored our poor but bright students we have struggled to cater for them and some almost graduating in Universities with promising future,” said Madam Halima.
In the same locality, other fast coming private schools including the Bridge International, Zackster and Green Valley is threatening the school’s survival with parents only willing to pay fees but leaving the development to sponsors.
“For us, we use the small income from few parents paying to cater for those from extreme poor families in schools and go ahead to look for sponsors for them in High school which our competitors never do,” added Abdallah.
The school has electricity solely sponsored by the Cheptais Sub-county Commissioner Omar Salat and Action-Aid once sponsored textbooks worth Sh200, 000.
“We urge the well-wishers and especially the Muslim community to invest with us to saving and helping many of the needy students by sponsoring us in building classrooms, administration block and even toilets so that we cannot be outdone by our competitors who enjoy such donors,” appealed Abdallah.