Missionaries brought the British model of education to Kenya in the mid-1800s. Resources were limited and schools were both scarce and racially divided. Today, however, schooling is more accessible.

The new education system is known as 8-4-4, which means eight years of primary school, four years of secondary school and four years of university, North American style. Primary enrollment has soared from under one million in 1963 to 5.5 million in 1994. As a result, the literacy rate is climbing and reached 79% in the mid 1990s.

Many Kenyan children cannot afford to go to school even for the first eight years. Students must pay for books, uniforms and transportation to the school. Often schools are built through donations and community building parties, or harambees. In many places, the children are expected to help clean the school and the playground. If there are not enough classrooms, the children take turns using them, or they study outside.
Did you know?

English is the language of instruction in Kenyan schools.

Uniforms are worn in most schools, though some families have difficulty buying them. Homework is often difficult for rural children who have many chores to do and sometimes have a part-time job.

In the playground, children play games like soccer with homemade balls and goals marked on the ground with stones.

Difficult exams are given at the end of primary school. Students who do well can then proceed to secondary school.

Sports competitions are important in Kenya, and school children enjoy competing in soccer, track, rugby and swimming. Music, drama and dance are also encouraged through school competitions, with the best performers travelling to other towns and villages.