The school has no librarian, and a lot of its books were acquired back before Kenya's independence in 1963, including a set of Shakespeare which a teacher says the students "don't like so much." English teachers here say they have enough teaching materials, but some other classes have so few books that teachers must spend much of their time dictating lessons to students.
Unlike some rural schools in Kenya with mud walls and no doors, classrooms here are made of stone blocks and have cement floors. Although paint is peeling off doors, and wooden desks are scarred from years of use, the science lab is well-equipped, compared with some rural schools.
Strapped for funds, Kenya's Ministry of Education stopped paying a share of student fees a few years ago. At Chuka High School, fees now run about US$190 a year, including room and board. Low as this may seem in the West, many Kenyan families are finding it very difficult to come up with the money, says Headmaster Julius Ndumbi. With world prices for tea and coffee low, many families in this area, which produces both, are having a hard time.
The school here has its own garden and livestock to help provide some of its food. Except for its relatively large size (750 students, 40 teachers), the school is typical of many rural Kenyan secondary schools, says headmaster Ndumbi.