Goldalyn Kakuya’s triumph in the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam earned her instant fame, jam-packed her in-tray with invites from the media, private and public corporates entities and a courtesy call on Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
Kakamega County government where her parents come from had promised Goldalyn a scholarship. But since she decided to join BrookeHouse and not Kenya High where she had been admitted by Knec, the county government declined to pay the one year school fees as promised
Goldalyn Kakuya highlight of her moment of fame was when she landed State House invite where she met President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
But as Goldalyn would discover, that aura of fame and near-celebrity status wasn’t a bed of roses— it had thorns that pricked her.
This massive recognition rubbed some people the wrong way. The last nail in the coffin was when she was invited by Masinde Muliro University (Must) to grace their graduation ceremony. Her simple congratulatory message to the graduands was criticised as some people felt it did not befit her. “How can a Class Eight student be invited to speak to graduands?” the critics posed.
“I’ve chosen silence,” says Goldalyn whose dream is to study medicine at the university.For Goldalyn who scored 455 marks to top the 2017 KCPE class, unrelenting and disconcerting social media haunted, distracted and upset her first year in secondary school.
She further remembers how her purported Form One report card from Kenya High School, showing how she had failed in the exam trended on social media. “I joined Brookhouse School, not Kenya High School and definitely the grading system is not in the form of Ds and Es as captured in the report card,” she reveals.
Terming the report a distraction, she observes, “It was meant to create a perception that I cheated in KCPE or that my success was a fluke. The fallacy is the author attempted to compare me with other top KCPE candidates who never excelled in their secondary education.”
“All this negative publicity was intended to depict me in bad light, draw comparisons and set public hatred against me. That’s why I chose silence to overcome the trials and to be focused on my goal,” she says.
Public scrutiny on progress of top KCPE candidates at secondary level, Goldalyn says, could be contributing to pressure, creating fear factor and resulting in flip-flop performance in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.
However, all that is now under the bridge. Goldalyn is determined to excel in her studies. She will sit for her International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE); the equivalent of KCSE, mid next year.
Her O Levels exams will come a year earlier than her colleagues in the 2017 KCPE class because when she transited to the IGCSE system, she was enrolled in Year 9, second term, the equivalent of Form Two.
January, according to IGCSE academic calendar, falls in second term of a tri-semester, which begins in September and ends in July.
“I was enrolled in Year Nine, not because I topped KPCE, but this was for all those transiting from KCPE to IGSCE,” she explains, adding, “In September this year, I will begin my final Year 11 and sit for IGSCE examination mid next year. Then I’ll be eligible for Year 12 and 13, which would offer a prospect of joining an international university or college.”
Asked the differences between 844 and IGCSE system, she says. “Classes are not crowded, there’s greater student/teacher interaction, it’s more practical and biology, chemistry, physics and computer science are introduced at an early stage.
There are less tests and ranking after exams.” She explains, “We are not ranked after every test. Ranking comes only when we transit to the next class. You know it’s not possible for all of us to pull off 450 marks or straight A (plain) in all subjects. Each one is good in his or her field.”
Goldalyn, however, says she faced challenges during her transition to the IGCSE. Math, computer science and chemistry, she recalls, were tough nut to crack. “Perhaps because I missed a class where early introduction to chemistry, physics, biology and computer science were taught, I didn’t get some basic concepts in these subjects,” she says.
She had to sacrifice her lunch break, games and sometimes evening rest hours to pick up the lost lessons. But within no time, she caught up with the rest.
“I’m currently enjoying my time, the environment in school is hospitable…it’s friendly, conducive and enjoyable. I like my teachers and fellow students. They have been supportive,” she says.