Education in Kenya has always been a top priority to both the government and its citizens. After achieving independence from Britain in 1963, the Kenyan government reformed the education system to embrace its new found self-determination. The curriculum was changed to transmit their particular culture, knowledge and skills.1
The Ministry of Education operates with a mission, “to provide, promote, and coordinate the provision of quality education, training and research for the empowerment of individuals to become responsible and competent citizens who value education as a lifelong process.”2 Those values have helped produce powerful results. Today Kenya has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, along with a rapidly growing economy.3 Kenya recognizes the important role that education plays in contributing to economic growth, employment opportunities, and sustainable development.
In 2002, the government undertook a major overhaul of the education system, with the aim of creating more inclusive schools. The new system uses mechanisms to ensure that all genders, marginalized groups, and children in especially difficult financial circumstances have access to quality education. Under the premise that all Kenyan children should be guaranteed at least basic education, President Mwai Kiabaki eliminated school fees for all students attending primary school. After eliminating school fees for children up to grade 8, primary school enrollment increased access to 21% more children.4 Much remains to be done to ensure that these children are receiving a high quality education, but this feat marks a major advancement in Kenyan education policy.
Unlike primary school, secondary school education is not free. Costly school fees are a major reason that the vast majority of primary school graduates cannot attend secondary school, because families simply cannot afford the cost. The government approximates that less than 50% of Kenyan children graduating from primary school enter secondary school.5 Recently, the government introduced the idea of subsidizing tuition fees, but this has yet to make a large impact on families struggling to send their children to school now. Today the effects of an unsubsidized, tuition based secondary school system have contributed to a society in which roughly 40% of children will never complete secondary school.6
In order for Kenya to continue growing economically and socially, Kenyan children need a full secondary school education. The School Fund works to cover the tuition fees of Kenyan children to help them achieve an education, because we recognize that education remains the greatest “social equalizer” and a powerful weapon against poverty.
1. Ruth N. Otunga and Charles Nyandusi, The Context of Curriculum Development in Kenya, (Moi University: 2009).
2. Ministry of Education, “2008 National Report of Kenya on the Development of Education”, 2008, 3.
3. UNICEF, Info by Country: Kenya, 2 March 2010.
4. George Saitoti, paper prepared for presentation at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington DC, “Education in Kenya: Challenges and Policy Responses”, April 2004, slide 33.
5. ibid, slide 20.
6. “Taking Nothing for Granted: Bradley Broder”, Lifestyles Magazine, May 2008.