Education System in Kenya – Well Explained

We have breakdown the education systems to help foreigners seeking to know the structure of how things are position in Kenya schools, read broadly below;

The current education system is organized into five main levels:

Table of Contents

Early Childhood Education (ECE)

  • Kindergarten year 1 (KG1)
  • Kindergarten year 2 (KG2)
  • Kindergarten year 3 (KG3) or nursery school

Basic Education (KCPE-KCSE)

  • Lower primary: 4 years
  • Upper primary: 4 years
  • High school: 4 years
  • Adult education (Gumbaro)

Vocational Training

  • Artisan level: 1 term/semester
  • Craft level: 2 terms/semesters

Professional Training

  • Technician (certificate) level: 6 terms/semesters
  • Technologist (diploma or bachelor’s degree) level: 9 terms/semesters
  • Statutory registration and licensing (examinations/internship) level: 1 year
  • Specialist technologist (higher diploma or master’s degree) level: 3 terms/semesters
  • Sub-specialist level (higher diploma, master’s degree, or Ph.D.)

University Programmes

  • Certificate: 1 semester
  • Ordinary diploma: 2 semesters (minimum)
  • Undergraduate degree: 8 semesters
  • Postgraduate diploma: 2 semesters
  • Bachelor of Philosophy or Master’s degree: 4 semesters (minimum)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree

Primary Education in Kenya

It begins at the age of 5 to 7 after completion of a year of kindergarten commonly known as Nursery School or pre-unit.

The first-class or year of primary school is known as Standard 1, the final year as Standard 8, and primary school children are known as pupils. At the end of the school year, students advance to the next grade.

The school year at both primary and secondary levels begins in January and ends in November. Students get 3 school vacations in April, August, and December.

Secondary Education in Kenya

It falls into three categories;

  • Government-funded schools are divided into national, provincial, and district levels.
  • Harambee schools do not receive full funding from the government.
  • Private schools are run by private organizations or individuals.

After taking the primary school leaving exam and successfully passing, government-funded schools select students in order of scores.

Students with the highest scores gain admission into national schools while those with average scores are selected into provincial and district schools. Harambee schools accept students with low scores. Students who fail their examinations pursue technical and vocational education. The latter is divided into technical secondary school (lasting 4 years) and apprenticeships solutions.

Under the current system, students attend secondary school for four years before sitting for the school-leaving exam at the end of the fourth year. The first-class or year of secondary school is known as form 1 and the final year is form 4. At the end of the fourth year, from October to November students sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination.

What is Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination?

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination is an examination that is offered after four year cycle in secondary education. The examination is normally offered in November/December each year. It is open to all bona fide residents of Kenya who meet the examination requirements as stipulated by KNEC.

KCSE Grading System

The KCSE subject is graded on the basis of a twelve-point scale, with 12 points being the highest score and 1 is the lowest. These grades are accompanied by an expanded grading system from A, A-, B+ to E as seen in the table below.

Grade A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- E
Points 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


University matriculation is based on the best performance in particular subjects relevant to degree courses. Example below:

KCSE Subject Group Grade Points

English 1 B+ 10
Kiswahili 1 A- 11
Mathematics 1 A 12
History & Government 3 B 9
Geography 3 A- 11
Physics 2 B+ 10
Chemistry 2 B- 8
Biology 2 A- 11


Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions, TVET in Kenya

These institutions operate under the state department of vocational and technical training under the helm of a principal secretary. The current Principal Secretary, PS is Kevit Desai.

They award artisan, craft and diploma, and higher national diploma certificates after successful completion of relevant courses. These institutions do not award degrees, as they are only awarded by Universities and Technical Universities.

Government TVET Institutions in Kenya

There are three types of government TVET institutions in Kenya. these are National Polytechnics, Technical Institutions and Vocational Education Centers (formerly Youth Polytechnics) Notable Institutions include;

  1. Technical University of Kenya, TUK
  2. Technical University of Mombasa, TUM
  3. Rift Valley Technical Training Institute, RVTTI

University Education in Kenya

There are 48 universities in Kenya, 22 of which are public and 26 private.

The University of Nairobi is the oldest public university in Kenya while KAG East university is the oldest among the private universities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *