SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. MWAI KIBAKI, C.G.H., M.P., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING KENYA HIGH SCHOOL CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS, KENYA HIGH SCHOOL, NAIROBI, 14TH JUNE, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you all on this occasion of Kenya High School centenary celebrations. This is indeed a memorable moment and an ideal opportunity for the school fraternity to take stock of the journey this institution has traveled over the last 100 years and to reflect on the road ahead.

On this occasion, I would like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the growth of this school since its inception. I am encouraged to note that from humble beginnings in 1910 when the school had an enrolment of 150 girls, today the school has a student enrolment of 880.

Moreover, the school has continued to set the pace in academic and co-curricular activities among girls in our country. Records show that performance in national examinations has been on an upward trend rising steadily from a mean score of 8.5 in 1999 to 10.2 in 2009. I urge you not to become complacent with the current level of performance but always endeavor to maintain and even enhance this good examination results.

I am particularly encouraged by the impressive results posted by the school in mathematics and science subjects. The impressive results demystifies the notion people have about the performance of girls in mathematics and science education. Indeed, it is noteworthy that amongst the school’s luminaries are women with solid foundations in science. This has propelled them to competitive careers such as medicine, engineering and research among other professions. I take this opportunity to encourage other girls’ schools in the country to emulate the Kenya High School model.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In today’s world, social, economic and political development relies heavily on education as a facilitator. In this regard, secondary education forms an important transitional stage and is a critical link to higher education and the world of work. It is, therefore, at this level that the right values, attitudes, skills and knowledge needed in the labour market are developed and nurtured. I, therefore, urge secondary school managers and teachers across the country to ensure they provide a firm foundation for the further self development and actualization of learners.

On its part, my Government is committed to ensuring that Kenyans, especially the youth, have access to globally competitive quality education and training. The aim of my Government is to give every young Kenyan a fair chance in life by equipping them with knowledge and skills that will enable them secure a decent livelihood in an increasingly competitive global environment.

As part of this commitment, my Government continues to allocate the education sector the largest share of our national budget. In the current financial year, the sector received a record 170 billion shillings. This large allocation is intended to allow for implementation of priority programmes that will facilitate overall national development as well as enhance individual well being. For example, the Government spends 10,265 shillings per secondary school student per year under the Free Tuition Secondary Education programme. Since the introduction of this programme in January, 2008, the Government has disbursed to all public secondary schools a total of 34 billion shillings of which Kenya High School has received 19.8 million shillings. The school has in addition received 1 million shillings for infrastructure in the last three years. I am glad to note that the Free Tuition Secondary Education Programme has enabled additional 30 percent eligible children to access secondary education.

In addition, my Government is pursuing other measures aimed at enhancing access to education. These include affirmative actions aimed at promoting the education of girls. To ensure that more girls get a chance to pursue university education, we have further adopted affirmative action by pegging university entry points for girls at 64, as opposed to 66 points for boys. This is aimed at bridging gender gaps at university level.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to note that the efforts of the Government are not enough on their own. Success in our educational endeavors will only come out of hard work by students, teachers, the Board of Governors and the entire school community. I urge Parents Teachers’ Associations and Boards of Governors in the country to work closely together in running our schools and in providing guidance to students so that we can bring up a generation of educated and responsible young men and women.

I also appeal to elderly members of society to be role models for the youth by socializing them into a culture of personal discipline and hard work.

On their part, I urge students across the country to work hard and to maintain high standards of discipline. I remind the youth to avoid drug and substance abuse, alcohol and promiscuity as these will only spoil their education and ruin their lives.

I am aware that Kenya High School faces a number of challenges. I urge all stakeholders to join hands in addressing these challenges. In particular, I call upon the City Council of Nairobi to address the poor sewerage system in the school. I also challenge the large number of prominent Kenyan women who are Old Girls of this school to reflect on the role they could play as individuals or collectively in support of the school. The contribution of Old Girls will supplement efforts by Government, parents and other stakeholders in the spirit of public-private partnership in institutional development.

I remind students that discipline and hard work are paramount to success. It is, therefore, necessary that students set their goals right, remain focused and be self-driven. I urge the current Form Four candidates to emulate the spirit of hard work exemplified by those who were here before them so as to maintain the school’s tradition of academic excellence.

Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to condemn in the strongest terms possible those behind the disruption of a meeting yesterday at Uhuru Park, which led to deaths and injuries of innocent Kenyans. This is a crime against the people of Kenya. It is an act of intolerance that has no place in the New Kenya that we seek to build. The government will get to the bottom of the heinous crime. The nation’s security and other government agencies have launched urgent and detailed investigations to uncover those behind the crime.

I send my condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones. I also wish those who suffered injuries quick recovery and God’s mercies.

In the meantime, I urge Kenyans to remain calm and tolerant. We must shame any retrogressive forces who do not respect democracy and the rights of Kenyans to hold different views.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU.