Education in Kenya
Education in Kenya refers to the education system in Kenya.
Education system structure
The current education system is organized into five main levels:
- Early childhood education (ECE)
- Kindergarten year 1 (KG1)
- Kindergarten year 2 (KG2)
- Kindergarten year 3 (KG3) or nursery school
- Lower primary: 4 years
- Upper primary: 4 years
- High school: 4 years
- Adult education (Gumbaro)
- Vocational training
- Artisan level: 1 term/semester
- Craft level: 2 terms/semesters
- Professional training
- Technician (certificate) level: 6 terms/semesters
- Technologist (diploma or bachelor's degree) level: 9 terms/semesters
- Statutory registration and licensing (examinations/internship) level: 1 year
- Specialist technologist (higher diploma or master's degree) level: 3 terms/semesters
- Sub-specialist level (higher diploma, master's degree or PhD)
- University programmes
Historical records not only from the travels of Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann reveal that Kenyans had access to education as far back as 1728 with a Swahili manuscript Utendi wa Tambuka (Book of Heraclius) attesting to the fact. The CMS missionaries interacted with locals in the coastal town of Mombasa and set up one of the earliest mission schools in the country at Rabai in 1846.
With the expansion of the railway from Mombasa to Uganda, the missionaries expanded their work into Kenya's interior. An attempt to set up a school and mission at Yatta in 1894 was resisted by the Kamba tribe. The missionaries then penetrated into western Kenya and set up schools and missions. The first school in western Kenya was established at Kaimosi in 1902. During the colonial era, the number of Kenyans with exposure to education steadily increased and a good number of them were privileged to proceed abroad for further education.
Among those who furthered their education abroad in the colonial era were Jomo Kenyatta, who attended Woodbrooke College and London School of Economics, Charles Njonjo, who attended Grays Inn Law School, Peter Mbiyu Koinange, who attended Columbia University, Mwai Kibaki who attended London School of Economics, R. Mugo Gatheru who attended Roosevelt University, Tom Mboya, who attended Ruskin College, Oxford, Masinde Muliro, who attended University of Cape Town, Julius Gikonyo Kiano who attended Stanford University, Paul Ngei and Barack Obama Sr., who attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Julius Gikonyo Kiano was the first Kenyan to obtain a PhD. He returned to Kenya and was instrumental in establishing a school in Githunguri. The trend steadily rose over the years and by the time of independence in 1963, 840,000 African children were attending elementary school.
The earliest schools in Kenya
- School at Rabai near Mombasa – established 1846
- Nairobi School established 1902.
- Friends School Kaimosi, now Kaimosi Friends Primary School, established in 1903
- Maseno School, established in 1906
- Government Indian School or The Duke of Gloucester School, now Jamhuri High School, established 1906
- Tumutumu Mission School, now Tumutumu Girls’ High School established in 1908.
- European Girls' School, now Kenya High School established 1908.
- Thogoto School, now Thogoto Teachers’ Training College established 1910.
- Machakos School, established 1925.
- Kaimosi Girls High School, established 1920
- Allidina Visram High School, Mombasa established 1921
- Kaimosi Boys High School, established 1921
- Limuru Girls School, established 1922
- Kabaa Boys High School, Machakos County established 1923
- Waa High School, Kwale County established 1923
- Kenton College, established 1924 Kijabi 1935 Kileleshwa
- Mang'u High School, established 1925.
- Kapsabet High School, established 1925.
- Alliance School, now Alliance High School (Kenya) established in 1926.
- St. Mary's School Yala, established in 1927.
- Highlands High School, now Moi Girls' High School – Eldoret established in 1928.
- Kitale Primary, later Kitale Academy, now Kitale School established 1929
- Kisii School, established in 1932
Pre and post colonial education Systems
Kenya began a campaign for free primary education after independence in 1963. Since then, the system of education has undergone transformation twice. Before independence elementary education was based on the colonial system of education.
East African Community (7–4–2–3 System)
In 1967, Kenya, with Uganda and Tanzania, formed the East African Community. The three countries adopted a single system of education, the 7–4–2–3, which consisted of 7 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education, 2 years of high school and 3–5 years of university education. Under the system, which was similar to the British system of education, children began their elementary (primary) education at the age of 7 and completed at the age of 13 after sitting for a regional examination known as the East African Certificate of Primary Education (EACPE).
After primary education those who passed very well proceeded to secondary school which ended four years later with the writing of the East African Certificate of Education examination (EACE). The highest level of education that qualified one to attend university was attained after two years of high school at that time distinct from secondary school with students sitting for the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE).
Kenya 7–4–2–3 System
With the collapse of the East African community in 1977, Kenya continued with the same system of education but changed the examination names from their regional identity to a national identity. The East African Certificate of Primary Education became the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE), the first time the C.P.E was marked by a computer system, the East African Certificate of Education became the Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE) and the East African Advanced Certificate of Education became the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE).
In 1985 President Daniel arap Moi, introduced the 8–4–4 system of education, which adopted 8 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education and 4 years of university education. With the introduction of the 8–4–4 system CPE became KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) while KCE became the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).
Since 1985, public education in Kenya has been based on an 8–4–4 system, with eight years of primary education followed by four years of secondary school and four years of college or university. To date, there has been steady growth in the advancement of education in the country. the country boasts of a great number of public and private universities as well as middle-level colleges.
Some private schools, however, offer a system of education similar to the British system of education with ordinary level exams, "O-levels" taken at the end of 4 years of secondary school and advanced levels "A-levels", taken after two years of high school.
Transition rates and Overall Performance
Out of all children in Kenya about 85 percent attend primary school. 75 percent of those who complete primary education proceed to secondary schools and 60 percent of those who complete secondary school proceed to higher institutions of education which include business and vocational institutions, national polytechnics, public and private universities within the country. Over 950,000 Kenyans have furthered their education abroad with a majority of graduates from India, UK, Canada, the United States, Russia and Uganda.
Education quality has recently received a lot of attention in Kenya. The government's main document in this effort, the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme for 2005–2010, established the National Assessment Centre (NAC) to monitor learning achievement. In 2010, the NAC released the results of its first assessment.
In 2009, in collaboration with the NAC, Uwezo Kenya conducted an assessment of the basic literacy and numeracy skills of children ages 6–16. The Annual Learning Assessment (ALA) reached villages in 70 out of 158 districts in Kenya and assessed nearly 70,000 children in their homes. The ALA was set at a Standard 2 level, which is the level where students are supposed to achieve basic competency in reading English and Kiswahili and complete simple arithmetic problems. The chart below shows the percent of children who could not read a Standard 2 level paragraph or solve Standard 2 level subtraction problems:
|Level of Children Assessed||Cannot Read English Paragraph||Cannot Read Swahili Paragraph||Cannot Do Subtraction|
- Literacy levels are low, and are substantially lower in certain regions. Girls tend to perform better in reading English and Kiswahili, while boys tend to perform better in math.
- Literacy levels are lower in public schools than private schools.
- Most children can solve real world, "ethno-mathematics" problems, while fewer can solve similar math problems in an abstract, pencil and paper format.
- 5% of children are not enrolled in school, but the problem is far worse in particular regions.
- About half of children are enrolled in pre-school.
- Many children are older than expected for their class level, including 40% of children in class 2, and 60% of children in class 7.
- North Eastern Province and arid districts in Rift Valley and Eastern Provinces have particularly low performance; and many older children, especially girls, are not attending school.
- Many families pay for extra tuition, which focuses heavily on drilling and exam preparation.
- Schools struggle to plan their budgets because they receive funds at unpredictable times.
- Children whose mothers are educated, particularly beyond primary school, tend to have much higher rates of literacy and numeracy.
- About 15% of students are absent on a given day, with much higher absenteeism in certain districts as a result of increased poverty level.
- There is a severe shortage of teachers, estimated at 4 teachers per school.
- The reluctance of the government to invest in educational institutions in marginalised areas thereby developing schools in cities only which result in inefficient education process in arid and semi-arid areas
- embezzlement of public funds by school administrators and lack of accountability of the use of government grants and high levels of corruption in educational institutions
Primary education in Kenya begins at the age of 5 to 7 after completion of a year of kindergarten commonly known as Nursery School or pre-unit. The first class or year of primary school is known as Standard 1, the final year as Standard 8 and primary school children are known as pupils. The school year at both primary and secondary levels, begins in January and ends in November. Students get 3 school vacations in April, August and December.
At the end of the school year students advance to the next grade.Since repetition was banned students still progress to the next grade even though they fail their examinations. Most primary schools are day schools with pupils living at home. Fewer schools at primary level are boarding schools compared to secondary schools. All public primary school pupils sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination at the end of the school year in Standard eight. In primary school, students are taught English, Kiswahili and Indigenous language activities.
In January 2003 President Mwai Kibaki re-introduced free primary education which previously existed before the mid 80s when the government adopted cost sharing measures that led to a minor level of school fees charged by primary schools for text books, PTA, and extra curricular activities. Since 2003, education in public schools became free and compulsory ( Kenya Constitution,Article 53, 2010). On learning that primary education had once again become free in Kenya, Kimani Maruge, an uneducated farmer and the world's oldest person to enroll in primary school joined Kapkenduiywo primary school in Eldoret at the age of 84. He was elected head boy at the age of 86 in 2005.
Secondary schools in Kenya fall into three categories – government funded, harambee and private. Government funded schools are divided into national, provincial and district levels. Harambee schools do not receive full funding from the government and private schools are run by private organizations or individuals. After taking the primary school leaving exam and successfully passing, government funded schools select students in order of scores.
Students with the highest scores gain admission into national schools while those with average scores are selected into provincial and district schools. Harambee schools accept students with low scores. Students who fail their examinations pursue technical and vocational education. The latter is divided into technical secondary school (lasting 4 years) and apprenticeships solutions. Since 2010, technical secondary schools student can have access to university programs. A number of students also drop out of school by choice due to poor scores.
Under the current system, students attend secondary school for four years before sitting for the school leaving exam at the end of the fourth year. The first class or year of secondary school is known as form 1 and the final year is form 4. At the end of the fourth year, from October to November students sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination. In 2008, the government introduced plans to offer free Secondary education to all Kenyans.
Historic prestigious national high schools include Mang'u High School, Alliance High School (Kenya) and Starehe Boys' Centre and School. Private secondary schools in Kenya are generally high cost, offering students an alternative system of education with better or more luxurious facilities compared to public schools. They are often favoured for prestige. Most private schools in Kenya offer the British system of education which includes "O-levels" and "A-levels". Very few offer the American system of education and good number of them offer the Kenya system. Some of the oldest private schools in Kenya include Loreto Convent Msongari, Nairobi (1921), St. Mary's School, Nairobi, Braeburn School, Consolata School, Strathmore School, Oshwal Academy, Rift Valley Academy, Aga Khan Academy, Kenton College and Brookhouse School,
KCSE grading system
The average grade is based on performance in the eight subjects. Where a candidate sits for more than eight subjects, the average grade is based on the best eight subjects. University matriculation is based on the best eight and performance in particular subjects relevant to degree courses. Example below:
|History & Government||3||B||9|
The total number of points is 82.
The average grade is 82 divided by 8, which equals 10.25 (approximately 10.0 points) which is Grade B+ according to the grading system. This student qualifies to join one of the Public Universities for his good score. Training institutions and faculties and departments determine their own minimum entry requirements.
Students who manage a grade of C+ qualify to do a degree course at the university. Owing to competition, and fewer places at the University, those with B and in a few cases B-, and above are taken for degree courses at the public universities and benefit by paying government-subsidized fees. The rest join private universities or middle-level colleges.
The number of students admitted to public universities through J.A.B. depends on the total number of beds available in all the public universities. Nonetheless, those who miss out but attained the minimum university entry mark of C+ or C with a relevant diploma certificate are admitted through the parallel degree programmes (module II) if they can afford the full fees for the course.
This has been the subject of much discussion with people questioning the rationale and morality of locking out qualified students from public institutions yet still admitting those who come from financially able families.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions
These are two- or three-year post secondary school institutions also termed colleges. They award certificates, diplomas and higher national diplomas after successful completion of relevant courses. Courses offered by these institutions include Business Education, Accounting, Secretarial Studies, Nursing, Teacher Training, Computer Studies, Journalism, Media, Design, Culinary Studies, Foreign Languages, Tourism and Technical Skills. In order of credibility or accreditation, national polytechnics rank first, followed by government training institutes, teacher training colleges and private institutions. Although generally termed colleges, these institution do not award degrees. Degrees are only awarded by universities.
From July 2014, all government and private institutions offering Technical and Vocational Education and Training where put under "TVETA". Retrieved 10 October 2016.. this act normalized this sector as it had become tainted by unaccredited institutions offering substandard education as revealed by "The Standard". and "The Star". 2 December 2015. As of October 10, 2016 there were 540 isntitutions accredited by the Authority
Government TVET Institutions
There are three types of government TVET institutions in Kenya. these are;National Polytechnics,Technical Institutions and Vocational Education Centers(formerly Youth Polytechnics) Notable Institutions include
There are 48 universities in Kenya, 22 of which are public and 26 private. The University of Nairobi is the oldest public university in Kenya while KAG East university is the oldest among the private universities.
|Sno||University Name||Area||Year Chartered||Original name||Year established||Campus|
|1||University of Nairobi||Nairobi||1970||Royal Technical College, Royal College Nairobi||1956||Main campus, Kikuyu campus, Chiromo campus, Lower Kabete campus, Upper Kabete campus, Parklands campus, Embu University college, South Eastern Univ. College Kitui, Kisumu campus, Mombasa campus|
|2||Moi University||Eldoret||1984||Moi University||1984||CONSTITUENT COLLEGES: Garissa University College, Rongo University College, CAMPUSES: Odera Akang'o yala campus, Mombasa Campus, Kericho Campus, Kitale Campus, Alupe Campus, Nairobi Campus,|
|3||Kenyatta University||Kiambu||1985||Kenyatta University College||1965||Main campus, Parklands campus, Ruiru campus, City campus, Kitui campus, Mombasa campus, Nakuru campus, Pwani University College, Machakos University College|
|4||Egerton University||Njoro||1988||Egerton Farm School, Egerton Agricultural College||1939||Kisii university college and Laikipia university college|
|5||Maseno University||Maseno||1991||Maseno Govt. Training Institute, Siriba Teachers College||1955||Oginga Odinga University|
|6||Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology||Kiambu||1994||Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture||1981||Multimedia University College of Kenya, Meru University College of Science and Technology, Murang'a University College,|
|7||Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology||Kakamega||2007||Western College of Arts and Applied Sciences||1972||CONSTITUENT COLLEGES, Kibabii University College, Turkana University Uollege, Kaimosi University College, Main campus in Kakamega and Mumias campus|
|8||Dedan Kimathi University of Technology||Nyeri||2012||Kimathi Institute of Technology, Kimathi University College of Technology (2007) as a Constituent College of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology||1972||Main Campus, Nyeri|
|9||Chuka University||Chuka||2012||Egerton University Eastern Campus College, Chuka University College (2007) as a Constituent College of Egerton University||2004||Main Campus, Chuka|
|10||Technical University of Kenya||Nairobi||2013||Kenya Technical Institute, Kenya Polytechnic, Kenya Polytechnic University College (2007) as a Constituent College of the University of Nairobi||1961||Main Campus, Nairobi|
|11||Technical University of Mombasa||Mombasa||2013||(MIOME), Mombasa Technical Institute , Mombasa Polytechnic , The Mombasa Polytechnic University College  as a Constituent College of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology||1940||Main Campus, Tudor. Satellite Campuses in Kwale and Lamu County|
|12||Pwani University||Kilifi||2013||Kilifi Institute of Agriculture, Pwani University College as a Constituent College of Kenyatta University||2007||Main Campus, Kilifi|
|13||Kisii University||Kisii||2013||Primary Teachers’ Training College (1965), Secondary Teachers' College (1983), Egerton Campus (1994), Kisii University College (2007) as a Constituent College of Egerton University||1965||Main Campus, Kisii Town Campus|
|14||University of Eldoret||Eldoret||2013||Chepkoilel University College as a Constituent College of Moi University||Main Campus Eldoret|
|15||Maasai Mara University||Narok||2013||Narok University College as a Constituent College of Moi University||2008||Main Campus, Narok|
|16||Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology||Kisumu||2013||Bondo Teachers Training College, Bondo University College, as a Constituent College of Maseno University||(2009)||Main Campus, Lake Victoria|
|17||Laikipia University||Laikipia||2013||LSFTC (1965), AHITI (1979), Egerton University Campus (1990), Laikipia University College, as a Constituent College of Egerton University||Main Campus, Nyahururu town Campus, Naivasha Campus, Nakuru Campus, Maralal Campus|
|18||South Eastern Kenya University||Kitui||2013||Ukamba Agricultural Institute (Ukai), South Eastern University College (Seuco)||2008||SEKU Main Campus, Machakos Town Campus, Kitui Town Campus, Wote Town Campus, Mtito-Andei Campus,Nairobi City Campus.|
|19||Multimedia University of Kenya||Nairobi||2013||Central Training School (CTS) to serve East African Posts Training School (1948), (KCCT) Kenya College of Communications Technology (1992), Multimedia University college of Kenya||2008||(MMU) Main Campus|
|20||University of Kabianga||Kericho||2013||The Government School, Kabianga (1925), Kabianga Teachers’ Training College (1929), Kabianga Framers Training Cente (1959), Kabianga Campus of Moi University (2007), Kabianga University College||2009||(UoK) Main Campus, Kapkatet Campus, Kericho Satellite Campus, Satellite Campus|
|21||Karatina University||Karatina||2013||Moi University Central Kenya Campus, Karatina University College||2008||Main Campus, Karatina Town Campus, Itiati Campus, Nanyuki Campus, Riverbank Campus|
|22||Meru University of Science and Technology||Meru||2013||(MECOTECH) Meru College of Technology (1979), (MUCST) Meru University College of Science and Technology||2008||MUST Main Campus, Meru Town Campus|
|23||Kirinyaga University||Kerugoya||2016||Kirinyaga Technical Institute, Kirinyaga University College|
There are 3 categories of private universities: chartered universities – fully accredited universities, by the Commission for Higher Education; universities, which had been offering degrees long before the establishment of the Commission for Higher Education; and universities authorised to operate with Letters of Interim Authority (LIA).
- KAG East University
- University of Eastern Africa, Baraton.
- Alliant International University or United States International University – USIU.
- Catholic University of Eastern Africa – CUEA.
- Daystar University.
- Kabarak University.
- Strathmore University.
- Kenya Methodist University.(KeMU)
- Africa Nazarene University.
- St. Paul's University.
- Kenya Methodist University.
- Pan Africa Christian University.
- Scott Christian University.
- Maasai Mara University.
- Mount Kenya University.
- Kenya Highlands Evangelical University. Formerly Kenya Highlands Bible College – KHBC
- Great Lakes University of Kisumu
- Africa International University (formerly NEGST)
- KCA University
- Adventist University of Africa (Rongai).
- Pwani University (KILIFI)
- Pan Africa Christian University
- Cooperative University of Kenya
- University of Embu
Universities with Letters of Interim Authority (LIA)
- Aga Khan University.
- Kiriri Women's University of Science and Technology.
- Presbyterian University of East Africa.
- Gretsa University.
- Inoorero University
- The East African University
- UMMA University
- Management University of Africa
- Riara University
- Pioneer International University
Universities operating with Certificates of Registration
- The Nairobi International School of theology
Factors affecting education in Kenya
In 2003 the Kenyan government promised free primary education to its citizens. In the early 70s primary school fees were abolished but in the mid 80s cost-sharing measures between the government and its citizens led to the re-introduction of minor fee charges by primary schools. As the trend continued with schools requiring parents to pay fees such as PTA, harambee, textbooks, uniforms, caution fees, exam fees and extracurricular activity fees, most parents became overburdened and unable to raise such fees. Those who could not afford the money to pay for their children's school fees often had their children drop out of the school. Many children were also forced to drop out of school when teachers would not allow them to take exams. To pressurize parents to pay fees, schools often sent children home during the final exams.
The growth of Kenya's education sector has exceeded expectations. After the first university was established in 1970, six other public universities and 23 private universities have been established. Although Kenya has its own universities, some parents prefer to send their children to universities outside the country. This is largely because Kenyan public universities are not as flexible with admission requirements as some foreign universities. Another factor that has been pointed out is that youth with disabilities are facing major obstacles to progress in higher education, and measures as affirmative action or measures tailored to the needs of particular profiles of students could play a relevant role in this.
- Ferre, Celine (February 2009). "Age at First Child: Does Education Delay Fertility Timing? The Case of Kenya" (PDF). Policy Research Working Paper (4833). World Bank.
- Eshiwani, G.S. (1990). "Implementing Educational Policies in Kenya" (PDF). Africa Technical Department Series Discussion Paper (85). World Bank.
- "Basic Education Curriculum Framework" (PDF). Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
- Kiplang’at Jeremiah (15 August 2009). "World's oldest pupil, Stephen Maruge, dies". Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- "Vocational Education in Kenya". UNESCO-UNEVOC. November 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- "It also helped refine international approaches to the education of the disabled. [Social Impact]. RECOUP. Research Consortium on Educational Outcomes and Poverty (2005-2009)". SIOR, Social Impact Open Repository.
14. List of Primary Schools in Kenya
Data & reports from external institution
- Education Statistics and Quality of Education in Kenya, Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ)
- CIA factbook, Kenya
- World Data on Education-Kenya, IBE(2010) - Overview and statistics of the Kenyan Education system
- Vocational Education in Kenya, UNESCO-UNEVOC(2012)- Overview of the vocational education and training system in Kenya