• Kenya gained independence from Great Britain in 1963 and today is a multi-party democracy.
  • Population: 42.7 million (UN, 2012)
  • Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
  • Top foreign exchange earners: tea, horticulture, tourism and money sent home by migrants.
  • GNI per capita: US $930 (World Bank, 2013)
  • Official language: English, with Kiswahili being the National Language
  • Capital: Nairobi population 3.4 million.
  • Mombasa 1.2 million
  • Religion: Protestant 45% Catholic 25%, Muslim 10%, Other including traditional beliefs, 20%
  • Life expectancy: 57 years (men), 59 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: Kenya shilling
  • Kenya has 42 different tribes that each have a unique culture. There has been some ethnic violence in the past but Kenyans have generally co-existed harmoniously.
  • Kenya has the 4th highest incidence of AIDS in the world.
  • 1.1 million children have been orphaned by aids



Kenya's education system is based on an 8-4-4 system—eight years in primary school, four years in secondary school, and four years in tertiary education.

In 2003 the Kenyan Government introduced a Free Primary Education (FPE) policy, but in reality there are significant costs such as uniforms, books, stationery, transport and miscellaneous charges that many parents simply cannot afford. To make matters worse, there are insufficient State schools, they are over-crowded with an average teacher pupil ratio of 86:1 and often located too far away for children to attend. The performance of State schools is often very poor.

Some parents keep their children from school to help the family survive either by working or by begging and scrounging for food. These children would get little, if anything, to eat if they went to school.

Another problem is that there are a significant number of children who do not have parents as a result of AIDS or other problems. These children are frequently looked after by relatives or older siblings who are in no position to afford the costs of their education.

Although estimates vary considerably, up to 1 million children still remain out of school in Kenya.  The majority of these are street children living in slums or in marginalised pastoral communities.

Families who can afford primary education often cannot afford the fees to pay for secondary school as these are extremely expensive and not accessible in some areas. The result is that around 75% of Kenyan youth only have a basic level of education, few usable skills, and minimal employment opportunities. 


Lack of education and consequent unemployment frequently leads to drug abuse, early pregnancy, crime, and other at-risk behaviour.

Improved education in Kenya is vital to support economic growth through an educated population. This mirrors the approach very successfully adopted by several countries in Asia that, 30 years ago, were in a similar stage of development as Kenya is today.