Beyond basics: the growth of post-primary education in Kenya

Research reports and studies
July 2014
Susan Nicolai and Annalisa Prizzon, with Sébastien Hine

Four key factors drove the expansion of both secondary and tertiary education in Kenya. Firstly, there was an increasing call for higher levels of education by communities, boosted by a growing demand by private employers for post-primary educational qualifications. Secondly, a strong political commitment to education emerged (including a commitment to education beyond basic levels), which involved several bold policy moves that were essentially game changers for the system. Thirdly, significant domestic and international resources were targeted at education, with largely domestic funds supporting post-primary levels. Fourthly, communities and the private sector have played a long-standing role in establishing provision of secondary education and more recently tertiary level education.

As primary school enrolment continues to grow worldwide, Kenya’s story of expansion of secondary and tertiary education is at the forefront of a trajectory many other developing countries will be experiencing in coming years. While the Kenyan education system faces several fundamental challenges, including broad inequalities, poor quality, fragile school-to-work transitions and financial sustainability, its progress in post-primary education may offer lessons for other countries needing to improve secondary and tertiary opportunities.

Corrections and clarifications

The full report was updated on 02/12/2015 to provide more recent information regarding higher education enrolment on page 9, following fact-checking for our publication '10 things to know about progress in international development'.


The summary was updated on 02/12/2015 on page 1 in the same manner as above.