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New Sponsor Handbook - Education in Kenya

The school year in Meru begins in January, and ends in November. There are breaks in April, August, and December. Tuition and/or fees are required at all levels.  Our sponsored children attend schools in the town of Meru and surrounding villages. The students are taught both Swahili (the national language) and English. 

Primary School, Standards 1 - 8

Primary standards correspond with our elementary grades 1-8. Primary education begins at the age of 6 or 7 after completion of a year or more of kindergarten, known locally as nursery school. There are some primary boarding schools, but most students attend public day schools and live at home. Schools start about 7 a.m. Students go home for lunch, and are back in school until about 5 p.m. In some cases they carry lunch to school. Nearly all students walk to school.  

Secondary School, Forms 1 - 4

Secondary forms correspond to our high school grades 9-12. The majority of secondary schools are boarding schools, some of these being a distance from the student’s home. Since the tuition costs are higher, some villages/communities do fund raising (harambee) to enable their children to attend. Attending a boarding school also ensures that the student is provided with adequate food and shelter.


National Exams

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)

During the fall of Standard 8, the students complete two days of exams which determine whether they will attend secondary school and which one they will attend. Approximately two-thirds of the students will qualify for secondary school. Some of the other students will continue to vocational school or an apprenticeship. The option also exists for a student to repeat Standard 8.

By the end of Standard 8, the young graduates are literate. Literacy opens doors for further training and for independent voting. It allows them increased opportunity for improving their own lives, as well as the lives of their family and community. 

Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE)

During the fall of Form 4 the students complete several weeks of exams. They receive a letter grade that determines whether they qualify for university education or entry into other tertiary colleges. The results are not received until March, and at this time it is not uncommon to have a family decide to have their child return to secondary school in an attempt to raise their grade on the exams and thus expand their future opportunities. Your commitment to sponsorship ends with the term when the student completes the exam for the first time.