Education and Schools in Nairobi

Kenya is one of the most popular expat destinations in Africa. Many of those who relocate to Kenya do so with children and for these expats, finding a good school is a priority. Expats living in Nairobi may find that schooling options for their children are limited, especially in terms of exorbitant tuition fees and the standard of education.

Many public schools in Nairobi are underfunded and poorly resourced, although those within cities are generally of a better standard compared to rural areas. Still, private schools hold more promise, especially for expat students from the UK as the academic system is similar to the British national curriculum. 

For many expats moving to Nairobi, the best option is one of the international schools as this causes the least disruption to the child’s studies, allowing them to continue with a familiar curriculum.


Public schools in Nairobi

Public schools in Nairobi follow the standard Kenyan education system, which consists of eight years of primary school, four years of secondary school and four years of university education. 

Tuition for both primary and secondary public education is free, though this leaves many schools underfunded and under-resourced. Still, Kenya's curriculum is relatively good, and students can attend academic or technical secondary schools. Universities are open to graduates of both types of schools.

The Kenyan curriculum for academic schools offers an extensive scope of subjects categorised into languages, sciences, applied sciences, humanities, creative arts and technical subjects. The core subjects are English, Kiswahili and maths, and English is the language of instruction. Alternatively, technical secondary schools give students a more practical approach to learning, preparing them for the workforce.


Private schools in Nairobi

Private schools in Nairobi are likely a preferred choice by expats and the curriculum and subjects available vary widely. As they are fee-paying institutions, children will receive a decent level of education and have better learning facilities than in the public system.

Many of Nairobi's private schools follow Kenya's national curriculum with a KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) and KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) at the end of primary and secondary school respectively.

International schools are a type of private school and these follow curricula from around the world.


International schools in Nairobi

Nairobi is a big city with a wide variety of international schools that serve a large and diverse expat population. Due to the many options, expat parents must do their research before deciding which school is right for their child.

Most international schools accept new students year-round but it should be noted that some have a waiting list and there is no guarantee of acceptance. So, it's best to start the application process as early as possible, especially if there is a strong preference for a particular school.

The major downside of international schools in Nairobi is the hefty tuition that expat parents will need to pay. Fees differ according to the school, age of the child and curriculum offered. Expats moving to Nairobi for work should try to negotiate the inclusion of an education allowance in their relocation and employment package.


Nurseries in Nairobi

Expat parents with young children in Nairobi will find many options for nurseries and daycare centres. Some kindergartens and nurseries are a part of larger international schools and many follow a Montessori-style approach, though bear in mind that some come with heavy fees.

As traffic in Nairobi can get chaotic, the location of the nursery is important, and how far away it is from the area and suburb where one lives.


Homeschooling in Nairobi

The law on homeschooling in Kenya is unclear, but many families opt in favour of it. Nairobi's mainstream education may not be suitable for everyone, being either largely under-resourced or overly expensive. Parents may also find the style of learning to put too much pressure on their children.

It is worth checking which international schools are also exam centres that allow homeschooling children to sit and write exams under their invigilation.

Whatever the reason, expat parents can use social media and networks to connect with other homeschooling families in Nairobi. Social media groups are great for organising social activities and getting to know others in Nairobi's homeschooling community.


Tutors in Nairobi

Tutors in Nairobi are easy to find. International schools may connect students with tutors, while online platforms, such as TeacherOn and PigiaMe, are helpful. Tutors specialised in British, American, Kenyan and other curricula can easily be reached in these ways to provide extra support to students.


Special needs education in Nairobi

Children with disabilities have a right to accessible and free basic education in Kenya. Unfortunately, many of Nairobi's schools do not offer extensive inclusive support to integrate these children in their mainstream classes. As such, there are specific schools in Nairobi dedicated to providing special needs education.

Private and international schools may offer more inclusive services to integrate children with learning or physical disabilities into their mainstream classes. This includes schools such as West Nairobi School, the International School of Kenya and the French School of Nairobi.

The level of support from each varies, so it's best to contact the school directly. Embassies may also provide lists of recommended schools in Nairobi for students with learning or physical disabilities.

Zeynep Vural. Our Expat Expert

I have relocated to Kenya in 2012 with my husband and two kids. Enjoying the beautiful weather and laid back lifestyle here in Kenya.  After working for big corporations, decided to become a life coach and started my practice recently. I am also a blogger, who loves to write and read. 

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