Almost one million primary school children took the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam, known as the KCPE.
Goldalyn Kakuya, a student from Saint Anne's Junior School in Lubao, Kakamega, in West Kenya, received top honors. She received a total of 455 marks out of a possible 500.
"I was really happy about it. I am excited a lot because it has passed a message to so many people. So, what thrills me most is that it has opened the eyes of many people.”
Goldalyn's success surprised many Kenyans because she has albinism, a genetic condition that causes a pink coloring in the eyes and a lack of color in the skin or hair. People with albinism often face discrimination in Africa, and children struggle to find educational opportunities.
Isaac Mwaura is a Kenyan lawmaker and chairman of the Albinism Society of Kenya.
"People have talent, and given the opportunity, they can do so. So, I would want to really say that young children with albinism across Africa and, indeed, the world, because there is a lot of persecution and discrimination that is geared toward people with albinism, that they feel encouraged, that they too can reach the top.”
He added that families and society should accept and support people with albinism.
Matilda Cherono Tanga is the girl’s mother. She agrees that discrimination against people with albinism is common.
"People will not even imagine that these children have a perfect brain. They think they cannot learn, they cannot compete. But the performance and the achievement of Goldalyn has proved to the society that albinism is just a condition of the skin.”
Goldalyn told VOA she worked hard for her success. She examined her school work, asked teachers questions, rarely missed her classes, and studied hard. She offers this advice to other students.
"Pray hard, do your best, believe in your yourself, because if you are praying, and you are working toward your goal, what can deter you from that? So, it is just a matter of being confident,” she said.
All students who received 400 marks or more will be admitted to Kenya’s national secondary schools. This year, about 10,000 boys and girls reached that level.
I’m Susan Shand.
Jill Craig reported this story for VOANews.com. Susan Shand adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
primary – adj. first in order of time or development
opportunity – n. a good or likely chance for progress
albino – n. person or animal born with a medical condition that results in very pale skin, white hair, and pink eyes
persecution – n. treatment of someone in a bad or harmful way
gear – v. to make ready for operation
deter - v. to cause (someone) to decide not to do something
confident – adj. having a belief in one’s own abilities; being sure that something is true