Education and Youth

Education and Youth FY 2013 Budget:
$23.4 million

Key Partners:
Government of Kenya: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development; Ministry of Planning and Devolution – and:

  • Aga Khan Foundation
  • Cooperative League of the USA
  • Education Development Center, Inc.
  • Equity Bank Foundation
  • Kenya Community Development Foundation
  • Kenyatta University
  • Mercy Corps
  • RTI International
  • Winrock International
  • World Vision
  • Global Communities


USAID/Kenya works in partnership with the Government of Kenya to improve learning outcomes in early-grade reading, provide pathways to education for bright but disadvantaged students, and empower youth with skills and opportunities to lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous Kenya. 

The Government of Kenya is committed to education as a basic right for all children. Today, there are four million more students enrolled in primary school than in 2003, which is a 46 percent increase. With this increase comes the need for more teachers, learning materials, and an emphasis on quality.

USAID supports the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology to improve the skills and expertise of education professionals and to bring improved teaching methods and new technology into the classroom with the goal of ensuring children can read by the end of grade two.  USAID piloted successful methods for teaching literacy in primary schools in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kiambu, Nakuru, and the mainly Muslim communities of Coast and North Eastern Provinces, and is supporting the government to improve literacy outcomes across Kenya.

In collaboration with the Government of Kenya, USAID’s youth program has engaged more than one million youth to step forward as leaders to achieve a greater voice in national reform, create new livelihood opportunities, and advocate for peace and better governance.  Kenyan youth between the ages of 18 and 35, make up 35 percent of the population. Close to 2.5 million youth are currently unemployed, with only 125,000 entering the formal workforce each year.  USAID works to expand opportunities for these youth to participate fully in their communities and the economy.


To help the Government of Kenya find affordable solutions to improved literacy, USAID’s primary education activities piloted improved learning materials, teacher’s guides and teaching methods designed by education officials. The improved materials supported a threefold increase in literacy when compared with control schools.  The U.K. Government has expanded USAID’s successful pilot methods to an additional 800 schools.  USAID is supporting the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to take improved methods nationwide, helping to ensure that Kenya has a literate workforce to support the goals of Vision 2030. USAID has also assisted the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to revise its Education Sector Policy on HIV/AIDS and roll it out in all 47 counties. More than 28,000 students in 225 primary and secondary schools have already been reached with HIV prevention interventions and life-skills education in Nairobi.

USAID also partners with the private sector to assist orphaned and economically disadvantaged children to complete their education and become leaders in their communities. USAID has provided more than 3,100 full scholarships, including leadership training and mentorship, through its Wings to Fly activity, and more than 550 scholarships through its girls’ empowerment activity, Global Give Back Circle.

USAID has helped more than one million Kenyan youth aged 18-35 to organize themselves into democratic youth bunges (Kiswahili for assemblies).  There are now 22,000 village youth bunges in 30 counties. Representatives from village bunges formed a National Youth Bunge Association to advocate for issues important to the youth of Kenya. County Youth Bunge Forums played a critical role in keeping the peace during the 2013 elections. They have also helped half-a-million youth obtain national ID cards, which allow them to vote and are necessary for employment and business. There are now 27 youth-led and-managed savings and credit associations.  Youth bunge members have reported that they feel more empowered since joining the bunge movement. 


People who can read are healthier, have higher incomes, and create safer, more stable democracies. High-quality education also ushers young people into the 21st century workforce. USAID is building the capacity of education institutions and systems to deliver quality services. “When I started reading, I read stories and remembered everything,” said Colins Warui (below) of the Kayole Community School in Nairobi. “And when the exams come, I should be number one.”

USAID collaborates with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to implement the Primary Reading and Math activity. The activity is designed to test the effectiveness of innovative teaching methods, learning materials, and professional development as a means to build the skills of educators and improve learning outcomes for primary school children, specifically in English, Kiswahili, and math.  The goal is to implement a scalable instructional approach that will lead to every Kenyan pupil being able to read and write by the end of Class 2. The pilot reached more than 316,000 students and 13,000 teachers in the past year.

The activity tested improved reading materials in 500 pilot schools and compared the literacy outcomes to those of control schools.   On September 13, 2013, USAID, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the Kenya National Examinations Council publicly launched the findings of a mid-term evaluation of the pilot project.  The Mid-Term Evaluation found that students in USAID-supported early-grade reading programs exhibit three times better performance than those in control schools.


Residents of Majembeni, a small village in Mpeketoni, Lamu County have traditionally relied on small-scale farming for their incomes.  The youth, however, were not participating. They looked down on farming as an activity for elderly people.
“We could not meet our family obligations. It was very difficult for us.” says Elijah Muremi, chairman of the Young Father’s Group.

Still, the young fathers didn’t consider farming as a source of income until they consulted their bunge leaders (youth parliament leaders) who had received training on sustainable agriculture, and were well-positioned to teach commercial farming. The leaders advised the young fathers of the benefit of commercial farming, helped them form their group and introduced them to a contact farmer. The contact farmer taught the group best farming practices and monitored their progress regularly.

Today, the young fathers have improved their livelihoods and also transformed their community.  The young men plant maize that they sell at both local markets and large-scale granaries.  Their profits have enabled them to open a tailoring business and also venture into tomato farming.  The group also inspired women in their bunge to start a young mothers group to practice commercial farming.

“We are a transformed community. The mindset among youth about farming has changed and the majorities are now commercial farmers. Our children don’t miss school for lack of funds, and we enjoy a balanced meal every day since we are able to purchase other types of foods,” says Elijah.

USAID/Kenya Contacts:
Karen Freeman
Mission Director
Tel: + 254 20 862 2000

Wick Powers
Office of Education and Youth
Tel:  +254 20 862 2755


September 2014

Last updated: December 11, 2014

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