Education and Schools in Kenya

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Kenya’s education system has undergone significant changes over time and was previously influenced heavily by the British during the colonial era.

education and schooling in KenyaSince 1985, the "8-4-4" system of education has been in place. This consists of eight years of primary school, four years of secondary school and four years of university education. With the introduction of this system, students who successfully complete their primary education receive the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and those that complete their secondary schooling receive the (KCSE).

Kenyan education is split into:
  • Kindergarten: ages 4 to 5
  • Primary school: ages 6 to 14
  • Secondary school: ages 14 to 18
  • University: ages 18 and above

Public schools in Kenya


Kenyans highly value education, with many families making huge sacrifices to send their children to school. However, the public school system in Kenya suffers from a lack of funding and a shortage of highly qualified teaching staff.

While there are some very good government schools in Kenya, most expats don’t consider sending their children to these. Generally, expat children attend private or international schools, which tend to be less disruptive to a child’s education, especially if they're only in Kenya for a short time.

Private schools in Kenya


Private schools in Kenya are a good option, especially for expats from the UK, as their systems are similar. 

The standard of education at Kenya's private schools is superior to its public schools, mainly because of additional funding from school fees. Costs vary from one school to another, but a private education is still cheaper than sending a child to an international school.

Private schools in Kenya offer a good range of facilities and extra-curricular activities for their students, most of whom will go on to university.

International schools in Kenya


There are a good range of international schools in Kenya, especially in the capital, Nairobi. Expats living in Kenya will find that because of the country's historical links with the UK, there a large number of schools that follow the British curriculum. However, to accommodate the growing expat community, there are also French, German, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese and American international schools in Kenya.

The standard of education of international schools in Kenya is generally excellent and students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including sports, drama and music. On the downside, fees tend to be very high. On top of basic school fees, expat parents will need to budget for extra expenses such as textbooks, stationery, school uniforms and field trips. Some schools also provide a boarding option, which again comes at an additional cost.

Expats who want to send their child to an international school should budget accordingly and try to negotiate an allowance for school fees into their employment package. Those whose employer is footing the bill for their children’s education should ensure that the company pays the money directly to the school to avoid being taxed on that allowance.

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