Education sector in Kenya

Education reforms in Kenya will provide opportunities for digital content, technical training, research, heavy investment in construction and upgrade of educational infrastructure.

Market overview

The education sector comprises of Ministry of Education (MoE) which hosts the Department of Education and Department of Science and Technology. The role of MoE is to the provide quality education and training for all Kenyans, while the role of Department of Science and Technology is to formulate, promote and implement higher education policies and strategies.

In addition, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has been mainstreamed into the department of Science and Technology and TVET Authority formed to ensure quality in middle level education and training is at advanced stage.

Other stakeholders in MoE include: Kenyan National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), and Commission for University Education (CUE). CUE ensures that high standards and good quality in all public and private universities are maintained.

The government is in the process of building the necessary capacities for CUE and TVET Authority, and establishing a National Education Board which will advise the cabinet secretary, the department of education and related departments on policy matters.

The Government has already implemented free primary education (FPE), tuition free secondary schooling programme, and aims to implement education for all (EFA) by 2015 in line with the new constitution and Vision 2030.

In an effort to improve quality and transform the education system to a knowledge based economy, the government allocated the education sector the following money in 2013/14 budget:

$121.2 million

Towards free primary education

$30.6 million

For school feeding program

$245.9 million

For free day

secondary education

$13.8 million

For secondary school bursary programs

$9.4 million

Upgrade of national schools

$57.7 million

High Education Loans Board (HELB)

$9.7 million

Youth polytechnics

$609 million

Laptops, digital content, and capacity building (over four phases starting Fyr 2013/14).

By 2018, the government would like to increase the education sector funding by 32%.

National Education System: The national education system has an 8-4-4 structure. Eight years in primary school (6-13 year olds), four years in secondary school (14-17 year olds) and four years in university. This structure has expanded to incorporate technical skills and pre-primary education (4-5 year olds). However, the government aims to increase the school leaving age so that all children remain in either education or training until they are 18 years old. TVET catchment population includes youth who do not enrol in the regular education system either at primary, secondary school or university levels.

Secondary enrolment and capacity: The secondary sector has expanded rapidly in the past eight years, both in number of schools and enrolment. Government’s strategy envisages: increase in the number of local secondary school places by encouraging private investment, increase the number of boarding secondary schools in pastoralist areas, and raise the transition rate from primary to secondary to 90%.

Universities: Both public and private universities have increased in number allowing more students to enrol. 2011/2012 saw an increase in enrolment of students to the universities increase by over 80% in public (both parallel and regular programmes), and over 100% in private. Currently, there are over 15 private universities and over 13 public universities, with the recent increase in public universities resulting from polytechnic colleges being awarded charters.

However, the government wants to reverse the current trend of turning middle-level colleges into universities and reinstate them. Government’s strategy is to expand the number of post-secondary places, for instance by opening vocational technical institutes in each constituency, so as to give fresh secondary school graduates tertiary qualifications. In addition, the government is encouraging universities to invest in research, technology & innovation.

Although the 8-4-4 structure and system was supposed to provide for a student to progress from the first year of primary through TIVET or tertiary, many primary level graduates have in fact been ill-prepared to enter post-primary sub-sectors. In addition, it has not catered adequately for the disadvantaged, those with special needs and those outside the formal education system. Consequently, many school age children have remained un-catered for. Amidst the challenges, the current government is keen to improve the education sector and is investing heavily in reforming the sector.

Key opportunities

  • Supply of laptops, projectors and printers for use in public primary schools.

  • Development of digital content for ICT integration in primary schools.

  • Upgrading of TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) institutions.

  • Training and mentoring of experts in developing sectors like oil & gas, mining for drilling engineers, rig operators, actuarial science students.

  • Partnering with local training organisation to train members of the county governments on devolved government system.

  • Working with new devolved governments to improve education infrastructure at county level.

  • Construction of more schools and upgrading of existing ones.

  • Construction of private schools to meet the exceeding demand.

  • Construction of post secondary education facilities like colleges, universities.

  • Refurbishment of training centres and institutes, including curriculum development.

  • Professional development training opportunities with various sectors e.g. financial services, human resource, ICT etc.

  • Partnerships with existing organisations to provide a larger variety of courses with international standards/recognition.

  • Opportunity to work with regulatory institutions to ensure all new regulations in line with the emergence of a new constitution strengthens the sector.

  • Introduction of new, innovative courses to meet the global changing market needs and development of new sectors within the economy.

Latest export opportunities in the Education & Skills sector.

Latest export opportunities in Kenya.

Getting into the market

The most suitable market entry strategy is through formation of a partnership with an existing institution. This model is currently in existence and has been working well between foreign and local colleges and universities.

Through partnerships UK colleges and universities are able to offer a number of their courses at the local colleges which then result in UK accreditation. This option gives the local colleges an edge over their competitors as UK accreditation is regarded highly in the Kenyan/East African market.

More about doing business in Kenya.


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

  • Christine Kimaru, British High Commission, Kenya. Tel: +254 (20) 2844294 or email: [email protected]

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Sectors: Education & Training
Countries: Kenya
Export Action Plan