Janet’s Journey of Resilience and Excellence in Education Management


Janet Mbaka’s journey is a powerful reminder that with dedication, resilience, and faith, one can achieve excellence in any field. Her story is not just an inspiration to future students but a beacon of hope for educators everywhere.

Few stories resonate as powerfully as that of Janet Mbaka. A committed Christian in her fifties, Janet’s life is a tapestry woven with threads of resilience, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. From a young girl in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County, to a celebrated educationist and entrepreneur, her journey is a testament to the transformative power of dedication and faith.

Janet Mbaka’s educational journey began at the tender age of three, attending notable schools such as St. Michael’s Boarding Kerogoya, St. Mary’s Girls High School Egoji and Kyeni Girls High School – Embu. Her early achievements were remarkable, with the Late President Daniel Arap Moi recognizing her as the best recruit during the Pre-University NYS program. Janet graduated from the University of Nairobi in 1993 and furthered her studies in ICT, eventually joining the banking sector as a management trainee and rising to the position of Head of Business and IT Alignment by 2008.

However, Janet’s true passion lies in education. In 2009, she founded BRAN-DEN Junior School in Nakuru County, now rebranded as Peppercorn Premier Schools Limited. Her vision was to nurture children’s potential beyond just academic grades, which sometimes put her at odds with other stakeholders. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she spearheaded the establishment of an online school, showcasing her adaptability and leadership.

Janet’s decision to pursue a Master’s in Education Management at Strathmore University was driven by the institution’s reputation for high-quality education and its nurturing environment.

“Strathmore’s commitment to excellence and comprehensive educational approach made it the perfect fit for my academic and professional aspirations,” she reflects.

Her academic journey at Strathmore has been both enriching and challenging. Janet balanced demanding work commitments with a rigorous school timetable, finding practical applications for her coursework in her business as a school owner. She managed to balance her academic responsibilities with her personal life by maintaining continuous communication with her family, colleagues, and lecturers. This support network was crucial in helping her navigate the challenges of her demanding schedule.

“The application-based course units aligned well with my setup, making the learning process highly relevant,” she explains. One memorable moment from her time at Strathmore was being stopped at the gate and asked to adhere to the university’s dress code. “It underscored the importance of standards, rules, and uniformity, regardless of rank,” she recalls.

Another significant experience was the humbling process of rewriting her research proposal, which taught her the rigours of academic writing. “I wrote my proposal chapters 1-3 and presented it to my supervisor with a lot of confidence only to learn that I needed to start afresh and do things in a professional academic manner…Waaaa, I experienced first-class real academic writing throughout the whole research journey!” she recalls.

Janet’s research focused on the ‘Founders’ Values and Longevity of Family-Owned Schools: A Study of Value Sets of Second-Generation Managers of Selected Schools in Kenya.’ This study provided valuable insights into the dynamics that contribute to the longevity of family-owned schools, emphasizing the importance of transmitting values to successive generations. Her findings offer guidance for policymakers and underscore the significance of professional training and a culture of knowledge sharing.

Through her Master’s program, Janet developed a robust set of skills, including entrepreneurial acumen, educational research expertise, and the qualities of patience and adaptability. These skills are now being applied as she transitions her school from a sole proprietorship to a private limited company, managing school funds professionally, and fostering lifelong learning among her staff and students.

After graduation, Janet plans to manage her schools more professionally and embark on part-time consultancy in education management. She also aspires to do part-time lecturing and research roles with universities and hopes to pursue a PhD when Strathmore offers the program in due course. “I would exceptionally love to join Strathmore on a part-time basis,” she reveals, highlighting her enduring connection with the institution.

Janet’s advice to incoming Masters students at Strathmore is clear: “Be consistent, committed, and open-minded. Complete your coursework diligently and prioritize your research. Maintain a positive mindset and resilience, and place God at the center of your studies.” Through her studies at Strathmore, Janet’s perspective on education management has evolved to encompass entrepreneurship, research, financial management, consultancy, and policymaking.

“Education management is a multifaceted career that requires the right mindset and skills,” she asserts.

Article written by: Stephen Wakhu

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