Education is a centerpiece of the Kenyan Government’s Vision 2030—its ambitious plan to transform Kenya into a middle-income country by 2030. Free primary and secondary education are part of this vision, and have produced a dramatic response. Today, nearly 3 million more students are enrolled in primary school than in 2003—a 46 percent increase—and the number of schools has grown by 7,000 (a 38 percent increase). In secondary schools, enrollment more than doubled between 2003 and 2009.
Still, close to a million children do not attend primary school, and only one in four youth are enrolled in secondary school. And the dramatic rise in enrollment has stressed Kenya’s inadequate teaching force and physical infrastructure, and the quality of education is a concern.
USAID education programs focus especially on girls, orphans and vulnerable children, and marginalized groups in urban slums and along the coast. In 2010, USAID supported education for nearly 475,000 children and youth, and training for more than 25,000 teachers. USAID has also developed a computerized management and information monitoring system to collect and analyze data that improves decision-making at the school and district level.
In Muslim communities in the Coast and North Eastern Provinces, school enrollment especially for girls has been historically low. USAID programs engage parents in efforts to improve access to and continuity of school education. In addition, with U.S. assistance, the Government of Kenya has implemented the first Nomadic Education Policy in Kenya, which allows for mobile schools for pastoralists who move with their livestock during the school year.
Over 500,000 youth in Kenya leave school each year, and the vast majority of them do not find regular, full-time employment. They have a relatively high level of basic education: more than 90 percent are literate, and more than half have completed at least some secondary education. However, they have rarely gained the knowledge, skills or disposition to participate fully in the local economy. USAID’s work is designed to empower young people in Kenya to promote their own development and prosperity, become responsible citizens, and advocate for peace and better governance.
USAID’s Yes Youth Can! Project supports youth-led recovery and development in areas that have experienced post-election violence or are at risk to experience violent conflict in the future. Through this project, Kenyan out-of-school youth are empowered to develop livelihood opportunities and improve their capacity for a greater voice in national and local affairs.
In Garissa, the predominantly Muslim and Somali provincial capital of North Eastern Province, 90 percent of youth are unemployed—providing fertile ground for recruitment into extremist and anti-social activities. In response, USAID’s G-Youth project provides workforce readiness training and career guidance that will benefit over 2,400 youth. By engaging directly with youth-managed organizations to help them find solutions to their economic and social challenges, the project improves educational and economic opportunities for youth and reduces the draw of extremism.
Education is an important component of reducing poverty, promoting peace, and empowering individuals to participate in democratic institutions. Since 2003, primary school enrollment has increased more than 50 percent in Kenya. This video provides an overview of USAID's education programs and particularly focuses on efforts to reach vulnerable, marginalized children.
Last updated: May 10, 2013