A family tradition – Student with 16 CSEC subjects defends high number

The heads of a Greater Portmore family, Kamau Mahakoe and Omari Ra, are serious about education.

Their three children who already graduated from high school have bought into the philosophy – each obtaining 15 or more CSEC subjects from the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

The first child, Tchakamau Ra, topped the island with 16 CSEC subjects in 2012. She got the best grade possible (Grade One) in 15 of those subjects; she also got a Grade Two. She later obtained a full scholarship to the University of Chicago, where she last year attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.

The second child, Kuti Ra, extended the greatness in 2014 when he accomplished a whopping 15 CSEC subjects. He is currently on a full scholarship, majoring in Biotechnology at Claflin University in South Carolina.

Now, the third child, Ruwenzori Ra, achieved 15 CSEC subjects this year, in addition to the one she attained last year. She got Grade One in seven of those subjects, including Mathematics and English A.

“My siblings set the bar, but I also have my own ideals, so I embraced the challenge,” Ruwenzori said, adding that she wants to pursue a career in environmental science.

“I decided from early on that, if I was to succeed, I would need to remove all distractions such as television – as well as limiting the amount of time spent on my phone,” she said.

Ruwenzori, who will move on to sixth form at Ardenne High School, does not regret amassing 16 subjects when half that number perhaps could have sufficed. She told The Beacon:

If you have the resources at your disposal, then why not make use of them? 

If you have something that motivates you, then what’s to stop you achieving your goals?

If you have opportunities at your disposal, then why limit yourself to the amount of things you can do – or in this case, the amount of subjects you can or will do?

I believe that, if you have faith in yourself and your abilities, and if you possess a certain level of tenacity, then there should be no limitations hindering you from achieving any goal you set for yourself.

– Ruwenzori Ra

The youngest of the four siblings, Ausar Rai, who is yet to experience CXC, will next month commence classes at Cedar Grove Academy – making the transition from his parents’ homeschool programme.

All four siblings, in fact, have been homeschooled up to Grade Six.

“Our homeschool has now expanded into a small school in Greater Portmore, called the Kemet-Maasai Academy,” said the children’s mother, Kamau.

The mother further told The Beacon that her family’s educational philosophy is firmly rooted in the teachings of national hero Marcus Garvey.

“Our students have a solid foundation in the history and accomplishments of our people. With this as a paradigm, we are certain to excel,” she said, adding that she has been an educator for over two decades and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education.

Kamau and her children’s father grew up in rural St Andrew.

By Horace Mills, Journalist


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