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Kenya, or in official circles, the Republic of Kenya, is a large sovereign nation in East Africa, with a total land area of roughly 580,000 square kilometers. The country is bordered to the southeast by the Indian Ocean, to the south by Tanzania, to the west by Uganda, to the northwest by South Sudan, to the north by Ethiopia and to the northeast by Somalia. Kenya takes its name from Mount Kenya, an important landmark in the country and the second-highest among Africa’s peaks. The capital and largest city in Kenya is Nairobi.
Kenya has a total population estimated at 41 million, representing over 40 different peoples and cultures. Ethnic groups in the country include the Kikuyu (22%), Lubya (14%), Luo (13%), Kalinjin (12%), Kamba (11%), Kisii (6%), Meru (6%) and other African groups comprising 15 percent of the total population. Non-African peoples, mostly of Asian, European and Arab descent, account for one-percent of the population. The overwhelming majority of the population (83%) is Christian, with nearly 48 percent of this group self-identifying as Protestant and close to 24 percent practicing Roman Catholicism. Other faiths adhered to by smaller groups within the country include Islam (11.2%) and a variety of indigenous African beliefs, practiced by approximately 2 percent of the Kenyan people. English and Swahili are both considered official languages in Kenya, the former used for all official matters of the government, for commerce and co-taught in schools, and the latter spoke colloquially among the Kenyan people.
Education in Kenya
The education system in Kenya is overseen by the national government and schooling is free and compulsory for students between the ages of 6 and 14. Education is divided between 4 distinct phases or levels: early childhood education, primary education, secondary education and post-secondary or college education.
Early childhood education is administered by preschools and targets children between the ages of 3 and 5. This level, which focuses on pre-reading and socialization skills, is an integral part of the Kenyan school system and is a key requirement for admission into “Standard One,” the Kenyan equivalent of first grade.
Primary education in Kenya spans eight years for children between the ages of 6 and 14. This phase features a broad curriculum, with subjects that include mathematics, science, English language and literature, history, geography and African cultural and societal studies. At the conclusion of primary school, students must sit for the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), which determines the type of secondary education for which students are eligible—either the general secondary school or the vocational studies program.
Students in the secondary vocational education program receive valuable instruction and training in career fields important to the Kenyan economy, after which they become certified and are eligible to enter the workforce. Those who qualify for the general secondary education school receive four years of advanced academic instruction, after which they are required to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE)—a test that determines which students are eligible to pursue degrees in Kenya’s limited system of university education.
The adult literacy rate in Kenya is 85 percent, a rate that is very high compared to most other African nations and a reflection of Kenya’s excellent education system.
Map of Kenya