Education in Kenya


President Kenyatta and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier accompanied by officers of their Governments, are given a presentation during the launch of a 39.4 million Euro vocational training programme, that will equip the youth with requisite skills to enable them contribute effectively to society

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the Government’s national policies and programmes that help Kenyans access quality and affordable education at school, post-school, higher education and academic research institutions.

The Ministry derives its mandate from the Constitution of Kenya, Chapter Four, Articles 43, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57 and 59, with provisions on children’s right to free and compulsory basic education – including quality services – and to access education institutions and facilities for persons with disabilities that are integrated into society to the extent compatible with the interests of the person.

This includes the use of sign language, braille or other appropriate means of communication, and access to materials and devices to overcome constraints arising from the person’s disability.

There are also provisions for the youth to access relevant education and training; employment; participation and representation of minorities and marginalised groups in governance and other spheres of life; special opportunities in educational and economic fields; and special opportunities for access to employment.

The rights of minorities and marginalised groups to reasonable access to water, health services and infrastructure are also enshrined, as it is incumbent upon the Government to develop a culture of human rights, promote gender equality and equity, and facilitate gender mainstreaming in national development.

Educational and training functions are shared between the National and County governments, as contained in Schedule 4 of the Constitution. Functions of the National Government are: education policy; standards; curriculum; examinations; granting of university charters; universities; tertiary educational institutions; institutions of research; higher learning, primary schools; special education; secondary schools; special education institutions; and promotion of sports and sports education.

Functions of the County governments in relation to education are: pre-primary education; village polytechnics; home-craft centres; farmers training centres; and childcare facilities.

State departments under the Ministry of Education

Education Cabinet Secretary Proffesor George Magoha during the official release of the placement results for the 2019/2020 cycle during where he also launched the new KUCCPS career guidance book

Vocational and Technical Training

It oversees the following:

  1. Technical and Vocational Education Policy Development and Management.
  2. Technical Vocational Education Training.
  3. Management of Institutes of Science and Technology.
  4. Management of national polytechnics.
  5. Management of educational training institutes (TVETs).
  6. Management of technical training institutes.
  7. Youth polytechnics and management of vocational training.
  8. Apprenticeship and training management of vocational training.

Early Learning and Basic Education

It oversees the following:

  1. Basic education (early childhood, primary and secondary schools) policy management.
  2. Primary and secondary education institutions management.
  3. School administration and programmes.
  4. Registration of basic education and training institutions.
  5. Administration of early childhood and pre-primary education, standards and norms.
  6. Management of education standards.
  7. Management of national examinations and certification.
  8. Curriculum development.
  9. Quality assurance in education.
  10. Representation of Kenya in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
  11. Adult education management.

University Education and Research

It oversees the following:

  1. University education policy.
  2. University education management.
  3. Management of continuing education (excluding TVETS).
  4. Public university management.
  5. Education research and policy.

Post Training and Skills Development

It oversees the following:

  1. Institutional framework, national sectoral and workplace strategies to develop and improve the skills of the Kenyan workforce and to integrate those strategies within the National Qualifications Framework.
  2. Skills development among actors and establishment of sector-specific skills council.
  3. Establishment and management of institutional frameworks for linking industry skills development and training.
  4. Implementation of the Industrial Attachment Policy.
  5. Harmonisation of skills training at all levels of training.
  6. Management of the National Skills Development Fund.
  7. Implementation of the National Apprenticeship Policy.
  8. Development and implementation of Employment Database System with linkages to all cadres of graduates and jobs in the market.
  9. Assessment of industrial training, testing and occupational skills and awarding certificates, including Government Test Certificates.
  10. Registration and approval of professional bodies.
  11. Improvement of productivity in the workplace and competitiveness of employers.
  12. Promotion of self-employment.
  13. Delivery of social services.

Key data for FY 2019-2020

The new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) covering pre-primary and primary Grades 1, 2 and 3 was rolled out, up to primary Grade 4, in 2020.

The teacher education curriculum framework has been aligned with the CBC and all primary teacher education (P1) colleges have been upgraded to offer diploma courses from September 2020. The Government is implementing a policy of 100 percent transition of all pupils from primary to secondary education.

Learners in primary and secondary schools have been registered in the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) and efforts are being made to ensure every child has a birth certificate to enroll in the system.

Spending by the Ministry was projected to increase by 9.2 percent to Sh496.8 billion in 2019-20 from Sh455.1 billion in 2018-19. Recurrent expenditure was expected to go up by 9.4 percent from Sh428.2 billion in 2018-19 to Sh468.4 billion, and development expenditure by 5.5 percent to Sh28.3 billion over the same period.

The total number of schools dropped by 2.5 percent to 89,337. Primary and secondary schools declined by 14.7 percent and 8.2 percent to 32,344 and 10,463, respectively.

The number of pre-primary schools increased by 10.0 percent to 46,530 in the same period, and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions by 10.3 percent to 2,191. The number of universities was constant at 63.

There were 2.7 million pupils enrolled in pre-primary 1 and 2 in the period under review, but the total enrolment in primary schools dropped by 4.5 percent to 10.1 million. Secondary schools saw total enrolment jump by 10.8 percent to 3.3 million in 2019 from 2.9 million in 2018.

There were 31,737 Kenyans enrolled as teacher trainees, a drop of 25.1 percent, while that of TVET institutions increased by 19.7 percent to 430,598 in 2019.

The number of students enrolled in universities dropped by 1.9 percent to 509,473 in 2019-20 compared to 519,462 in 2018-19.

The Ministry of Education saw its total spending rise by 9.2 percent to Sh496.8 billion in 2019 from 455 billion in 2018. Total recurrent expenditure was expected to increase by 9.4 percent to Sh468.4 billion in 2019-20, accounting for 94.3 percent of the total expenditure of the Ministry.

Officials from the Ministry of Education and NGAO oversee the opening of an exam container at the Gilgil DCCs office.This measures were undertaken to ensure that the integrity of the examination is maintained.

Ministry of Education Expenditure (Sh Million) 2018/19 2019/2020

Recurrent expenditure

  • State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education 87,966.70 89,846.99
  • Teachers Service Commission 240,738.30 252,651.67
  • State Department for University Education 91,661.66 108,723.07
  • State Department for Vocational and Technical Training 7,777.79 17,100.86
  • State Department for Post Training and Skills Development 56.16 123.40

Total expenditure – 428,200.60 468,445.99

Development expenditure

  • State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education 7,462.33 8,378.88
  • Teachers Service Commission 16.69 945.00
  • State Department for University Education 10,155.0 9,235.23
  • State Department for Vocational and Technical Training 9,245.20 9,787.14

Total expenditure – 26,879.24 28,346.25

Source: National Economic Survey 2020

The number of girls enrolled in Standard 8 went up by 9.2 percent to 549,200 in 2019, while that of boys increased by 5.0 percent to 529,700 over the same period. The survival rate at Standard 5 for boys stood at 93.6 percent in 2019 while that of girls was 97.6 percent in the period under review.

The pupil completion rate (PCR) was 85.4 percent in 2019, from 84.2 percent recorded in 2018, while primary to secondary transition rate (PSTR) rose by 2.2 percentage points to 85.5 percent in 2019 from 83.3 percent in 2018. The number of candidates who sat for KCPE in 2019 was 1,088,989, out of which 1,072,867 were to enroll in Form 1 in 2020, raising the PSTR to 98.5 percent for the year.

The total number of teacher trainees declined by 25.1 percent to 31,737 in 2019. Teacher trainees enrolled in public primary (P1) colleges fell by half to 11,111 in 2019. Admission of students to all public primary (P1) colleges was stopped to enable the latter’s upgrading to offer diploma courses. As a result, the total number of diploma teacher trainees dropped by 5.6 percent to 2,037 in 2019 from 2,158 in 2018.

TVET institutions increased student enrolment by 19.7 percent to 430,598 in 2019 from 359,852 in 2018. Enrolment of students in national polytechnics went up by 35.5 percent to 102,078, while that of public technical and vocational colleges increased by 32.8 percent to 112,110 over the same period.

The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) placed 89,488 students in public and private universities in 2019, an increase of 30.5 percent from 68,550 in 2018. The number placed in public universities rose by 28.8 percent in the period under review.

However, the decline in enrolment by candidates joining public universities through self-sponsored programmes dented total university enrolment, which declined by 1.9 percent to 509,473 in 2019 from 519,462 in 2018. Enrolment in public universities fell by 4.7 percent from 433,245 in 2018-19 to 412,845 in 2019-20.

President Uhuru Kenyatta tours exhibitions stands mounted by participants during the official opening of the 2nd Young Scientists Kenya National Science and Technology Exhibition at KICC.

Highlights of 2020 in Education Sector

National exams and schools reopening delayed by COVID-19

The Government restructured the calendar for national examinations and reopening of schools after new infections from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) appeared to be on the upswing in July.

Saying that it would be difficult to control infections in primary and secondary schools, the Ministry opted to postpone all national examinations and push the reopening of schools to early 2021, although this will also be dependent on advice from health experts.

There will be no KCPE and KCSE examinations in 2020 because the current Standard 7 and Form 3 students will not be able to cover the curriculum load for five terms in one year to sit the examinations.

All pre-primary, primary and secondary school students will remain in their current classes when learning resumes in early 2021. This will apply to all children, including those in schools offering international curriculum.

“The 2020 school calendar year will be considered lost due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha. Affected were over two million pupils who were to sit secondary school and university entrance examinations at the end of 2020.

Instead, phased reopening of universities, colleges and vocational training institutions was scheduled for September, but will be subject to strict adherence to Ministry of Health guidelines on social distancing, sanitation and wearing of facemasks.

“The universities should continue holding virtual learning and graduations for students who have successfully completed their programmes and met graduation requirements set by their respective Senates,” said Prof Magoha.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of all learning institutions on 15th March 2020 as part of national measures to slow down COVID-19 infections. The Ministry moved quickly to comply and also unveiled virtual learning for children and youth through the national broadcaster KBC radio and via the internet to promote home-based learning.

The decision to reschedule national examinations and the reopening of schools was based on advice from the National Emergency Response Committee on coronavirus (NERCC) comprising public health specialists.

The Committee noted that schools are poorly equipped to promote Ministry of Health guidelines on social distancing, testing, hand washing and use of sanitisers and facemasks, which are necessary for safe reopening.

“Reducing physical contact in learning institutions by having fewer learners will have a greater impact on reducing COVID-19 cases and fatalities,” said Prof Magoha.

“Hand washing with soap, use of sanitisers, wearing of masks and monitoring of body temperature will be the minimum requirements for the health and safety of learners,” he noted.

And in July 2020, the CS said that only three teacher training colleges (TTCs) – Murang’a, Kericho and Asumbi – had put in place satisfactory COVID-19 containment measures as recommended by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The CS also made an appeal to parents with children in private schools to support the institutions as these rely solely on tuition fees to pay their teachers. Over 155,000 teachers work for private schools.

“I appeal to parents who are endowed financially not to allow private schools to disintegrate and affect the teachers. Ordinarily, the schools perform better and their teachers also develop content,” said Prof Magoha.

He encouraged the schools to conduct online learning and discuss with parents ways of maintaining the institutions until schools reopen countrywide.

In July 2020, the State Department for Early Learning and Basic Education issued guidelines on health and safety protocols for reopening of basic education institutions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidelines cover the following:

  • Class/cohort sizes adjusted to ensure adherence to social distancing. Education institutional programmes reworked to avoid learners and trainees from gathering at one place in big numbers.
  • Use of facemasks by all learners and trainees, teachers/non-teaching staff and parents/guardians/visitors at all times within the school environment.
  • Supply of adequate, clean running water, liquid soap/hand sanitisers.
  • Temperature monitoring and record keeping.
  • Institutional health and hygiene practices.
  • Referral systems for the provision of mental health and psychosocial support for learners/trainees and staff members.
  • Continued learning and review of schools’ daily routine.
  • Procedure for handling suspected COVID-19 cases.

In preparation for reopening of educational institutions, heads of institutions are expected to carry out the following:

  1. Build the capacity of institutional staff, learners, boards of management and parents on the management of COVID-19.
  2. Ensure adequate clean, running water and sanitation facilities in the institution and procure water tanks where applicable.
  3. Develop awareness messages and build the capacity of learners, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and the entire institution’s community on key infection prevention and control measures and promote good hygiene practices.
  4. Develop protocols on hygiene and social distancing measures before re-opening.
  5. Stock up on key supplies, including disinfectants, liquid soap, non-touch thermometers, facemasks and first-aid kit.
  6. Collaborate with sponsors of the institution to ensure provision of psychosocial and spiritual services.
  7. Map an emergency health facility that is within 10km and collaborate with the County Government to have some health personnel assigned to the institution for regular health monitoring and sensitisation.
  8. Carry out risk assessment for suitability – focusing on space, water, sanitation, provision of meals, and transport of learners using the risk assessment matrix provided by MoE, and develop mitigation measures. A multi-sectoral team will conduct assessment on the feasibility and readiness of institutions to ascertain the levels of preparedness using the mapping of readiness checklist provided by MoE.
  9. Ensure compliance to guidelines for issuance of letters of compliance to the institutions.

Communicate to parents, teachers, learners, trainees on:

  • Health and safety measures put in place to guarantee the health and safety of learners and trainees, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and the entire community.
  • Re-opening of the institution to be based on the calendar released by the ministry.
  • Sensitise parents and the entire communities on their role in ensuring health and safety of learners, trainees and staff.
  • Sensitise parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and community members on the importance of hygiene practices and social distancing, both at home and in learning institutions.
  • Sensitise all learners using age and gender appropriate Information Education Communication materials on COVID-19 prevention and control.
  • Constitute institutional COVID-19 response committees to coordinate response strategies comprising five members: one being a learner/trainee, a non-teaching staff, one BoM member and teachers.
  • Ensure there is a designated room within the institution for use as a sick bay or for temporary isolation in case presumed incidents occur in institutions.
  • Collaborate with the Ministry of Health through the Sub-County education office to map quarantine centres – at least one per Sub-County, in case of recurrence of the pandemic.
Kenyatta and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier launch a 39.4 million Euro vocational training programme that will equip the youth with requisite skills to enable them contribute effecively to the society.

Ministry relaxes NEMIS requirement for FY 2019-2020

In January 2020, the Government opted to suspend the rule requiring the details of up to 10 million learners in primary schools to be captured in the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) in order to receive their annual capitation for FY 2019-2020.

Learners require birth certificates to be enrolled in Nemis. Instead, the schools were ordered to do a headcount of learners to ascertain their numbers for disbursement of funds to the institutions, with the Government noting that it was not the fault of students who lacked birth certificates and so they should not be deprived of learning.

Without the suspension of the requirement, many learners would not have been able to register for national examinations.

Guidelines on new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) released

In November 2019, the Ministry released guidelines to schools on how to implement the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) for Upper Primary – Grades 4, 5 and 6. Following the circular, all schools rolled out CBC in Upper Primary in January 2020 in Grade 4. The roll out for Grade 5 in 2021, and Grade 6 in 2022, will follow. The Ministry had already rolled out the CBC for Early Years Education (EYE) – Grades 1 to 3.

TSC gives salary increases, promotions to teachers

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) informed teachers that they would get job group promotions and salary increases following Parliament’s approval of the Commission’s budget. Up to 100,000 teachers were set to benefit in primary and secondary schools. In addition, TSC said it would spend Sh2 billion to employ new teachers and address a shortage caused by the policy on 100 percent transition from primary to secondary schools. Another Sh1.2 billion would be used to hire 10,000 interns. Parliament also allocated Sh1 billion for CBC implementation.

Elimu Scholarship gives hope to needy students

The Ministry’s partnership with Equity Bank saw thousands of needy students benefit from the Elimu Scholarship Programme and proceed to Form One. Launched in January 2020, the programme is supported by the World Bank-funded Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQIP) and implemented by Equity Bank. Over 38,000 primary school graduates across the country applied for the scholarships.

The beneficiaries are from 110 sub-counties and informal settlements in 15 urban centres who attained 280 marks and above in the 2019 KCPE. However, orphans and children from vulnerable communities, and those with special needs and disabilities, who got lower marks were also considered.

Education CS Magoha said at the launch that the Elimu Scholarship Programme would support 18,000 children from needy and vulnerable households with full secondary school scholarships.

“I feel fulfilled as I launch this programme today. This is perhaps the most transformative programme for education in this country because needy children now have an opportunity to get an education,” said Prof Magoha.

He said the rigorous selection criterion was free, fair and transparent.

“I sat through complete interviews and went on home verification visits in Kisumu, Thika and Nyeri. What I saw is a committed selection team made up of education officers, local administrators and local communities, coordinated by Equity Bank,” said Prof Magoha.

The Government picked Equity Group as the implementing agency of the Elimu Scholarship Programme due to the success of the Equity Group Foundation’s Wings to Fly Programme.

The Equity Group Foundation executive chairman, Dr James Mwangi, urged the scholars to live up to the vision behind the programme.

“For every Elimu scholarship you have received, four applicants were competing for it. You need to be responsible with the opportunity you have been given and work hard in school so that you can realise your dreams and transform your families and communities,” he said.

The programme shows the Government’s commitment to promoting access to education by boosting the transition of students from primary to secondary schools.

Ministry partners with M-Pesa Foundation on sanitary towels for schoolgirls

Over 800,000 girls sitting the KCPE and KCSE final examinations in 2019 were provided with sanitary towels, thanks to a partnership between the Ministry and the M-Pesa Foundation.

The Ministry and the Foundation partnered with local manufacturers to produce the sanitary towels at an affordable cost. The Government is committed to giving sanitary pads to girls, apart from providing free primary education and free day secondary education.

The Government spends a total of Sh470 million under the National Free Sanitary Towel Programme to provide pads to at least 1.4 million girls for a period of four months every year.

“The Ministry decided to partner with M-Pesa Foundation to meet the demand so that all girls can receive sanitary towels,” said Prof Magoha.

Local manufacturers produce the pads, which are then distributed by the Ministry of Education at an estimated cost of Sh281 million. The girls receive a menstrual health package of three packets of sanitary pads, enough to last three months. They also get three pieces of underwear and a menstrual health information booklet.

Menstruation, which is a natural occurrence, often turns into a moment of shame for girls unable to afford sanitary pads. Some resort to using bits of mattresses, old clothes, leaves or even sheets of newspapers as pads.

Others are lured into sex in exchange for money to buy pads. Many also stay away from school or skip classes during their menstrual cycles. The programme is meant to restore their dignity.

The programme also trains schoolgirls on hygienic use and disposal of sanitary towels. Over 450 girls benefited from free sanitary pads in refugee camps.

Share this post