Kenyan education is based on an 8-4-4 system: eight years in primary school, four years in secondary and four in tertiary education; attaining the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Secondary Education (KCSE) generally, university degrees if very lucky. The education system could be changed to 6-6-3 if proposals are adopted this year (2011). The aim is to encourage high levels of specialization geared towards attainment of Vision 2030 goals for industrialization and entrepreneurship.

The majority of poor Kenyans do not get beyond primary school. The National Curriculum has been in place for some time and is heavily influenced by the British system. The first national exam is the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education), which is taken at the end of Standard 8, the last year of primary school. This is an extremely important exam, since the marks gained determine the type of school which a pupil can go on to.

Secondary education is extremely expensive and few can afford to move into Form 1. As in primary education the standard of schools varies enormously, from the well-funded and equipped national and provincial schools to the desperately under-equipped and under-staffed street schools which we are trying to help.

Kenyan textbooks are very good – in many cases better than their English equivalents since they are designed for use by less educated teachers. But they are comparatively expensive, and consequently most schools have either none at all or a very small number. The vast majority of children cannot afford to buy their own textbooks.

The official languages of Kenya are English and Kiswahili, but the first language is the local tribal language. This means that, since English is the official language of education, children are being taught in their third language.

Although Education in Kenya from Primary (Class 1-8) is perceived to be free, many students still do not go to school for a number of reasons. e.g. disabled students lack mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, inaccessibility to school, sick parents mean the children must stay at home or work.