Friends School Kamusinga, an academic and extra-curricular activities giant in Kenya, owes its consistent and stellar performance to a hard working culture, discipline, mutual understanding and assistance between the staff, students, community, old boys of the school and the school’s leadership organs (the Board of Governors (BOG) and Parents Teachers Association (PTA)). This is guided by the school over-arching motto “USE COMMON SENSE”
The hitherto Provincial School which was upgraded National school in 2011 by the Ministry of Education is situated in the slopes of Mt. Elgon in Kimilili division in Bungoma North district in a 58-acre land in a green & serene environment. The school boasts of a rich alumni of all-rounded and prominent personalities in Kenya and the world in politics, economics, academia, trade, creative arts and sports.
The school was established by Allan Bradley (a Briton who died aged 90 in February 2000) in 1956 as a transfer unit of Friends School Kaimosi from Kaimosi in Vihiga County. He is remembered by the school in "Allan Bradley Day," the first was on February 18, 2006. The day is celebrated through a sports tournament in his name; Allan Bradley Tournament.
Kamusinga’s success that had hitherto been overshadowed by what current Board of Governors (B.O.G) chairman, Dr Noah Sitati terms as mismanagement and political interference was revived in 1996 when Christopher Khaemba (former Alliance High School Principal, former Dean African Leadership Academy in South Africa, former advisor on education to Prime Minister’s office and current member of the Executive Nairobi City County, in charge of Education, Youth Affairs, Culture, Children and Social Services), took over the helm of the school. Former long serving BOG Chairman Jonathan Cheloti says Mr. Khaemba started a new programme of strict selection of students based on merit & achievement and improved the school adminstration and governance which he says has been maintained to date, contributing to its success. The school perfomance took an upward trend with the introduction of Mr. Khaemba’s management system that were emulated from the Alliance High School where he had been the deputy principal.
Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi, formally Khaemba’s deputy and himself an old boy of the school, took reign of the school in 1998 after Mr. Khaemba was promoted to head Alliance High School. He managed to maintain the standards set by him thus catapulting the school’s performance to an upward trend. When Simon Nabukwesi was appointed to be Ambassador to Canada and Cuba, the current Mr. Edwin Namachanja took over. Together with his deputy, Mr. Alex Luyayi, the duo have promoted beter co-ordination between students, teachers and heads of departments (HODs).
“There is openness and sincerity in the way we handle school issues. Each one of us understands the goals, mission and vision of the school, which guides us. We go along way in sacrificing our time to ensure that we achieve the very best, says Mr. Namachanja. He adds, “Strict and rigorous academic programmes in the school have proved successful with our students to the extent that other schools which have wanted to borrow a leaf from us drop them shortly after implementating them, since they cannot cope up with them”.
The day’s program starts at 4.45 a.m for the morning preps and end at 9.00 p.m. Candidates are allowed to extend to as far as 11.00 p.m. but with the provision of night tea to keep them warm and focused in their studies.
All academic staff members including the Principal works within syllabus deadlines to allow more time for students especially candidates to revise their work particularly during third term. This creates more time for students who have weaknesses or difficulties in some subjects be attended to. Currently, Kamusinga has 65 teachers.
To promote a level playground and perhaps further the mutual understanding in the school, every staff member including the Principal works within syllabus deadlines to allow more time for students especially for candidates to revive their work particularly during third term. Kamusinga has 65 teachers.
In discipline, Kamusinga has won the Award of the best disciplined school in Western Region of Kenya over a decade. The Principal however says discipline must go hand in hand with academics. “We have never separated the two. If a student makes a mistake, we have always gone back to his academic record and tried to offer correction.” He says.
Namachanja says a disciplined student should all times take assignments, attend all lessons, prepare well for exams, motivate the teacher and above all, honour individual tailored programmes.
The school’s careers mistress,Mrs Masengeli says competition has been encouraged among studnts over the years whereby best performers are rewarded not forgetting those who improve. “Students who don’t perform at all are put on a recovery programme whereby they are given individual attention. This system has worked wonders.”she says.
Namachanja reiterates that a disciplined student should all times attend to his assignments, attend all lessons, prepare well for examinations, motivate himself and his teacheers and above all, honour individual tailored programmes.
The school’s careers mistress, Mrs Masengeli says competition has been encouraged among students over the years whereby best performers are rewarded. Those who have not performed well to the expectations are assisted to. “Students who perform dismally are put on a recovery programme whereby they are given individual attention. This system has worked well and has produced results.”she says.
Extra-curricular activities are an integral part of Kamusinga’s history. Friends School Kamusinga is known for it stellar performance in Hockey, Basketball, Rugby and other games. Academic excellence is complemented with superb performance in extra curricular activities. The school has won national secondary schools games in hockey 11 times and three East Africa schools championship titles since its introduction in 2007. The school has a basketball team, name “The Tigers”. The school has represented the Western Region at the nationals since 2004. In 2009 it was the first runners-up while in 2011 it was the 2nd runners-up at the KSSSA national term 1A ball games.The school performs well in Science Fare and has won awards in this area including in the Best Boys Schools category, Best School in Home Science nationally and is ranked fifth in the nation. The Science fare encourages innovation, creativity and also exploits talents among students
Accomplished scholars have played a role in motivating Kamusinga students especially KCSE candidates. The school has hosted former Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor, Professor George Eshiwani and the University of Nairobi Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Prof. Henry Mutoro. Others are United Nations Conference on Trade & Development Director-General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, former Director of Eduation, Laban Ayiro, Former Cabinet Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade and Bungoma’s Senator Hon. Moses Wetang’ula, Retired President H.E. Daniel Arap Moi and the former Vice President, Hon Kalonzo Musyoka, Former Ambassador to Canada & Cuba Simon Nabukwesi among many others.
Friends School Kamusinga non-academic staff fit well in realization of the vision of the school The surrounding community is supportive of the school. The available facilities include laboratories, library, social hall and dining hall which serve a population of 1200 students.
Special recognition goes to Ruth and Peter Bradley, two children of the late founder of the school, Allan Bradley (RIP) who have always looked for possible ways of assisting the school, a move he says should be emulated by the old boys. In 2009, the Bradley’s set up an amateur radio station at the school which has enabled students to take careers in Electronics and Telecommunications. The school boasts of celebrated old boys who continue to excel in politics, economics, academia, trade, creative arts, games and sports, medicine, construction, business, engineering, media among many others. The Principal’s plea to OLD BOYS of the school is to come together, set up a strong network and find sustainable ways of assisting the school meet its objectives and vision.
Namachanja also appreciates the evergreen exchange programmes between this school and Alliance High School.
“Our mission this year- 2015 is to record a performance index 10.50 in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Examinations,” promised Mr. Namachanja. Last year, Friends School Kamusinga led in Western Promise with a performance index of 10.25 and was ranked position fourty four nationally.