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Two Kenyan boys read together while sharing a book.
Kenya’s focus on high-quality education is improving the futures of primary school students across the country. Children who excel in reading have a better chance of succeeding and contributing to the prosperity of the country.

USAID 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.


In 2003, the Government of Kenya established a free primary education program for all children.  Today, nearly three million more students are enrolled in primary school and the number of schools has grown by 7,000.  These significant enrollment gains, however notable, have not been matched by concomitant improvements in education quality. Kenya's reading proficiency dropped from second to fifth among the 15 African countries in the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ).

USAID, in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, is working to ensure growing classroom enrolment also translates into quality education.  We are partnering with key government, donor and private sector stakeholders to develop and launch a nationwide early grade reading activity designed to benefit every first and second grade student enrolled in a public school.  The program is based on evidence gathered during a pilot program in three counties under rigorous research protocols. As part of this pilot program in 2013, USAID provided professional learning opportunities to more than 5,800 educators.  Nearly 316,000 children benefitted from new teaching methodologies and the development and distribution of up-to-date learning materials. 

We are also reaching out to children who have been excluded from the education system, especially those who are orphaned or left vulnerable due to the AIDS epidemic. Partnerships with various civil society and private sector organizations are supporting these students to complete their education and become community leaders.

Youth Empowerment 

Young people are the drivers of economic growth in Kenya.   Youth, defined by the Government of Kenya as people between the ages of 18 - 35, compromise one-third of the population. Kenyan youth are eager to participate in the workforce, but do not have the requisite skills or networks to access employment opportunities.

USAID is working with the Government of Kenya at both the national and county levels to scale up solutions that address the needs and priorities of Kenyan youth.  Our youth program has empowered one million young people to step forward as leaders in areas of the country where youth are most susceptible to political exploitation and violence. These youth, who were once excluded from the political process and powerless to influence policy, are now working with the government and private sector to address common challenges. 

The program has also introduced young people to new means of earning income and given them the skills they need to turn their ideas into businesses or gainful employment.

Kenya: Education and Youth

Last updated: November 05, 2015

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