Education in Kenya: Wikis


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Classroom in Athi River, Kenya

Education in Kenya has been based on an 8-4-4 system since 1985,[1][2] with eight years of primary education followed by four years of secondary school and four years of college or university. In addition to this there is a large private school sector, which caters for the middle to upper classes and generally follow the British O-level and A-level system after primary school.

Out of all children in Kenya about 85 percent of children attend primary school, 24 percent of children attend secondary school, and 2 percent attend higher institutions.


Primary education

There are three categories of primary school: Day Primaries, which make up the majority of schools; Boarding schools, divided into low, medium and high cost; and Arid Zone primary schools.[citation needed]:)

Primary education in government schools became free and universal (but not compulsory) in January, 2003.[citation needed]

The harambee system plays a significant role in the provision of Kenya's Primary education system. (In Swahili, harambee literally means "pulling together".) The harambee system accounts for approximately 75 percent of schools in Kenya. Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams are undertaken at the end of primary education.

Kenya is home to Kimani Maruge, the world's oldest person to start primary school. An illiterate farmer, he enrolled at age 84 when he learned that schooling had become free.[3]

Secondary education

Students in Kenya's major secondary schools (high schools) take four years to prepare for college. Most students start to shape their future in pursuing subjects that will take them to their careers. Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education are undertaken at the end of secondary education. As of 2008, the government has introduced plans to offer free Secondary education to all. Kenya's children have a very hard life- being in poverty. Lots of children do not attend primary school- because they have to work at home.

There are three types of secondary school: private schools, government-aided schools and harambee schools. The government-aided schools are more selective and only one out of four children are accepted into one. Acceptance is based on a child’s score on the Kenya Certification of Primary Education (KCPE). Most of the government-aided schools are boarding schools.

Harambee schools are less selective and make up 75 percent of all secondary schools in the country. Students who score lower on the KCPE exam attend harambee schools, trade schools, or drop out. The facilities in these schools are not as good as the government aided ones and often lack books, qualified teachers, desks, etc.

Most private schools offer British O-levels, followed by A-levels or the International Baccalaureate with the exception of a few schools that follow the American system. A few private schools offer the KCSE program alongside foreign systems giving students a choice of which to follow, e.g. Saint Mary's School, Nairobi.

Middle level colleges

These are two or three year colleges that offer certificate,Diploma and Higher National Diploma qualifications.. These colleges offer Technical hands-on skills in various fields such as Engineering, Medical Sciences, education, computer Science etc. They include Teacher Training colleges (TTCs), Kenya Medical Training colleges(KMTC), Kenya Polytechnic, Mombasa Polytechnic, Eldoret polytechnic, Kenya institute of mass communication and many others. All these institutions are set up by various acts of parliament...

Public Universities

The oldest is the University of Nairobi. Other state universities include Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Egerton University, Moi University, Maseno University and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (formerly Western University College).

Background information

In 1963 the Kenyan government promised free primary education to its people. This promise did not take effect until 2003. Citizens are expected to contribute to the education fund by paying fees, taxes, and labour services. After contributing, most parents did not have the money to pay for their children’s education and were subsequently locked out of the school system.

Teachers strike often due to irregular payment of their wages.[citation needed]. The teachers were responsible for collecting fees payments from student, with their wages being held until all fees were collected. Many children were forced to drop out of school simply because they could not afford it. Teachers would often send children home during the final exams in order to pressure parents into paying the fees.

Now that education is free, attendance has increased and there is a shortage of teachers and classrooms with children not getting sufficient attention from teachers due to the overcrowding of classrooms. This is a result of both children attending that could not afford to before, and children being taken out of lower-tier private schools in order to take advantage of free education. This has created demand for low cost private school where parents that could afford to pay the fees can send children to learn in a better environment.

Some believe that a solution for the overcrowding in schools is to create more vocational training programs in order to create alternative routes to employment.

Kenya introduced the current 8-4-4 system in 1985. This means that grades one through eight are in primary, grades nine through twelve are in secondary, and then graduates spend four years in university. The 8-4-4 system was created to help those students who do not plan to pursue higher education. It has helped reduce the drop out rates and help those that leave primary school find employment.

The growth of Kenya's education sector has exceeded expectations. After the first university was established in 1970, five others have been created. The demand for higher education has resulted in the formation of many private universities.

The facilities in some public universities are so small that when incoming freshman arrive most of the upper classmen have to be sent home for a while to make room. Universities, like primary schools, lack the funds that are needed. There are not nearly enough computers, and labs are small and unequipped. Some students will pay a little more to go to private universities because they do not want involved with the competition for admission. Also, private universities have better facilities and computer labs.

The UK Government is giving Kenya seven billion shillings (ninety-seven million US) to help support the free education system. The extra money will be used to improve the health programs in all schools. Also, it will be used in purchasing books and learning materials for all of the schools. The money will also go towards expanding secondary education and universities. Reconstruction will occur in classrooms and improvements in water and sanitation facilities.

Although Kenya has its own universities, some parents choose to send their children to different countries. Many believe that the United Kingdom has the best universities, and that it would be a great opportunity for their children to attend a university there. Kenyan universities are also more difficult to get accepted to due to extremely high demand for higher education and not nearly enough room in the universities.

The Kenyan government is slowly, but surely working to make education in Kenya better. The first twelve years of school are now free, although this has introduced the issue of overcrowding that now needs to be dealt with. The funding from the UK will help reconstruct some of the schools and hopefully make them a better learning environment.

Private Schools

Private schools in Kenya cater generally for the middle and upper classes as well as the ex-patriate community. Many are largely affiliated with distinct religious organisations such as Oshwal Academy which is owned and managed by the OERB of the Oshwal community (Kenyan-Indians following Jainism) as well as various Catholic (Saint Mary's School Nairobi), Missionary (Rift Valley Academy) and Islamic (Aga Khan Academy) affiliated schools. These organisations are generally in charge of funding for the schools, and do not usually bias the curriculum or activities to reflect these ties, especially for non-adherent students.

Most private day schools in Kenya are located within Nairobi and Mombasa, with boarding schools generally located in the countryside or the outskirts of town. This is a clear parallel to the British tradition of upper and upper-middle class families sending their children to expensive boarding schools that offer extensive grounds and facilities. The schools themselves are similar in a sense to the tradition of British public schools, with a lot of private schools in Nairobi either being based on the public school form, e.g. Brookhouse School, or having once been British public schools under colonial rule, e.g. Saint Mary's School, Nairobi and Kenton College.

See also


  1. ^ Ferre, Celine (February 2009). Age at First Child: Does Education Delay Fertility Timing? The Case of Kenya. Policy Research Working Paper. World Bank. 
  2. ^ Eshiwani, G.S. (1990). Implementing Educational Policies in Kenya. Africa Technical Department Series Discussion Paper. World Bank. 
  3. ^ The Standard – World’s oldest pupil, Stephen Maruge, dies August 15, 2009

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