Sharing about Kenyan Education System.

This year, I promise to be more Vibrant in sharing about Education issues in the Forum.

Let this year be a blessed year as we share advance education and creating a better environment for our children to study and advance their lives as they make their lives better.

The Kenyan school year runs from January to December.

The school year is divided into three terms of three months each, with a break at the end of each term.

The Kenyan Educational system includes eight years of primary school and four years of secondary school.

Primary school attendance is mandatory and primary tuition has been free in Kenyan since 2003. However, parents must pay fees for uniforms and other items.
Some poorer children still do not attend primary school.
At the end of Standard 8 (8th grade) students take a standardized test, the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam, to try to qualify for admission to a high school of their choice.
Most nomadic children attend primary school in remote locations where resources can be scarce and teachers less qualified. Therefore, NKCEF understands that the KCPE score alone may not reflect the student’s capabilities.
Secondary School in Kenya costs each student an average of $500 per year, well above the annual income of an average nomadic family.
Students in secondary school take 9 to 12 required courses a term, including English, Kiswahili, religion and agriculture. There are few optional courses.

High School and Beyond

There are various types of high schools in Kenya:

The most prestigious and well-funded public schools are the national schools, which admit the students with the highest KCPE scores across Kenya.
Public provincial schools admit the students with the next highest KCPE scores across their province.
The remaining students may attend the public district schools. Sometimes students who qualify for national or provincial schools attend district schools because they can’t afford the better schools.
Private and parochial schools also accept students based on their KCPE scores, and follow the national curriculum to prepare students for the KCSE exam.
Coeducational and single-sex schools exist among public, parochial and private schools.

At the end of Form IV (senior year), students take the standardized Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam. Scores determine:

Type of postsecondary education available to a particular student (university or vocational).
Availability of government loans and access to other scholarship funds.
Subject matter students are permitted to study if they attend public colleges or universities.

NKCEF Scholarships open life-changing doors, particularly for desperately poor nomadic girls.

UN research has shown that one of the most effective ways to improve the economic well-being of a community is to educate its women.
NKCEF works with a number of quality girls’ schools and coeducational schools in Kenya. We support many nomadic girls at these schools and continue to seek out qualified girls wishing to continue their education and expand their horizons.

Educating Nomadic Kenyan Girls

Daughters are less likely to receive an education.

Boys are usually sent to school over girls, as finances are severely limited. Education is also seen as a long-term investment decision: when a boy marries he stays in the family and the family can benefit from his education and expanded opportunities.
Once a girl is married, she is no longer part of her parent’s family. Therefore, her parents do not benefit from her education as much as from a son’s education.
Traditionally, nomadic girls marry young - often in their early teens – at which point they are required at home and can no longer attend school.

For nomadic girls, education provides an alternative to early marriage .

Many nomadic patriarchs strongly resist educating their daughters for cultural reasons. Among Kenyan nomadic tribes, a family’s wealth is measured in cows, goats and camels. A nomadic family offering a young girl in marriage will receive valuable livestock in return. A delayed marriage means a delay in the dowry the girl’s father receives.
If her father is unable or unwilling to pay high school fees, a girl must find a scholarship or she will be sent home from school. At this point, a girl's only choice may be to enter into an arranged marriage, often with a much older man.

Boarding schools offer girls a chance to focus on schoolwork.

Girls who go to day school are expected to come home and help manage the household and care for younger children.
These girls may be unable to work on their studies until after dark when it is impossible to see inside their huts, unless precious fuel is used for a lantern.

Jared Akama Ondieki


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Comment by Crystal Wilson on January 21, 2011 at 9:28pm

Very information article on the Kenyan School system. It really highlights how economics, family income and culture, and gender bias affect how children are educated. I was happy to read that primary school attendance is mandatory and free, but I wondered if the uniform and other fees are causing students to be sent home from school or prohibiting them for attending school because their families cannot afford the fees. Because primary school attendance is mandatory, I also wondered if the parents, who cannot afford the fees, are being penalized for not sending their children in school.

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