Education and Youth

Education and Youth FY 2015 Budget:

$30 million

Key Partners:

Government of Kenya: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Planning and Devolution – and:

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



The Government of Kenya is committed to education as a basic right for all children. USAID/Kenya works with the Kenyan government to improve learning outcomes in early-grade reading, provide pathways to education for bright but disadvantaged students, and give youths skills and opportunities to lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous Kenya. 

Today, four million more students are enrolled in primary school than in 2003, a 46 percent increase. With this increase comes the need for qualified teachers, state-of-the art learning materials, and an emphasis on quality and academic achievement.

USAID supports the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology in improving the skills and expertise of education professionals and bringing improved teaching methods, learning materials, and new technology into the classroom with the goal of children reading fluently by the end of grade two.  USAID piloted successful methods for teaching literacy in primary schools and is currently helping to improve literacy outcomes in every Kenyan primary school in the country. 


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



To help the Government of Kenya find affordable solutions to improved literacy, the USAID primary education activities piloted improved learning materials, teacher’s guides and teaching methods. The improved materials and teaching methodologies supported a threefold increase in literacy contrasted with control schools.  A historic partnership between USAID and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is taking these improved methods and learning materials nationwide, helping to give Kenya the literate workforce to support the goals of Vision 2030. USAID has also assisted the Ministry in revising its Education Sector Policy on HIV/AIDS and rolling 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 Kenyans aged 18-35 to organize themselves into democratic youth bunges (Kiswahili for assemblies).  There are now more than 22,000 village youth bunges in 32 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 report 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.”


The Tusome (“Let’s Read” in Kiswahili) Early Grade Reading activity is a strategic national partnership between USAID and the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology to improve access to quality education for all Kenyan children.  Based on statistical evidence, the Ministry championed the scale-up of early grade reading initiatives in every Kenyan primary school. 

Tusome is currently improving the English and Kiswahili reading and writing skills of Kenyan children in some 26,000 schools across the country.  To build the capacity of educators and school administrators, Tusome rolled out a nationwide training program in 2015 to train teachers and senior county- and national-level education leaders in the new reading techniques and overall approach.  Tusome includes a sustainable instructional leadership system, giving school administrators, Teacher Advisory Center tutors, and coaches the training and tools to effectively manage and support teachers in critical technical areas such, as lesson planning, curriculum coverage, and parental engagement, while addressing issues of teacher absenteeism.

Tusome will also assess relevant laws, policies, strategies and regulations and their impact on early-grade reading. The program will then design and jointly implement an intervention package with the Government of Kenya to address identified policy gaps and concerns to ensure the future sustainability of early grade reading programs in Kenya.  All activities are co-implemented with Ministry staff with plans to put the program on budget and implemented by the GOK after 2018.   


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.

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 in 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 they sell at both local markets and large-scale granaries.  Their profits have enabled them to open a tailoring business and 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


Last updated: July 23, 2015

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