Kenya - Country Commercial Guide

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-13


Kenyans place a high importance on education, and it has continued to play a pivotal role in the country’s development, with its demand steadily increasing. Due to the importance of education in the country, the Government of Kenya (GOK) increased FY 2021 National Budget from 20% to 26% of the National Budget on education. This increase is also meant to recover lost time resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

After several education commissions in recent years, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has identified that several local and foreign investors are establishing various levels of learning from kindergarten to secondary, including those offering British, American, and other curriculums. With this private investment, the GOK reallocated resources towards the expansion of public secondary schools and identified centers of academic excellence in every Kenyan county. Funds are now being channeled to existing public high schools for expansion rather than initiating new learning institutions. Consequently, schools that had three groups of 20-25 students per class are now being expanded to accommodate an extra class grouping and dormitories are being expanded to accommodate more students to meet the high demand for secondary education. 

However, the GOK lacks the financial capacity and technical expertise to implement the initiatives previously listed. Therefore, aid agencies like UNICEF, USAID, World Vision, JICA, among others, have contributed significantly to the expansion and development of education in the country, especially in public institutions.

At the tertiary level, for the first time in 21 years, undergraduate enrollment in Kenyan public universities dropped by 56,988 in 2019. This is likely due to a combination of factors from choices in private education, study abroad options, as well as a crackdown on illicit exam testing schemes. Conversely, enrollment for postgraduate courses in Kenyan public universities has grown by 33%, up from 32,977 in 2018 to 43,988 students who are currently pursuing a masters or PhD in 2019. Kenyan students who do not attend public universities are able to attend either private local universities or elect to study abroad.

Government Education Initiatives: The GOK recognizes education as the primary means of sustainable economic development, social mobility, national cohesion, and social development. This has led to the implementation of programs that rapidly expanded the education sector. Examples include tertiary and satellite campuses to reach out to the county audience outside of Nairobi.

Challenges and Gaps: The two major barriers preventing students from studying in the United States are high tuition fees and difficulties securing a visa. For a comparison, tuition from a Kenyan public university is approximately $1,500 - $5,000 per year. 

Major Field of Specialization in 2020/2021

  • Business and Management: 13%
  • Education: 4%
  • Engineering: 22%
  • Fine and Applied Arts: 3%
  • Health Professions: 15%
  • Humanities: 5%
  • Math/Computer Science: 13%
  • Physical and Life Sciences: 10%
  • Social Sciences: 8%
  • Undeclared or Other Fields of Study: 7%

Leading Sub-Sectors

Most opportunities are found in recruiting for undergraduate and graduate programs in the United States. There is a high interest in U.S. education, particularly in the fields of engineering, healthcare, and sciences. Further, many U.S. colleges and universities offer degrees in additional areas that are not offered by local universities. Kenyan students are especially interested in programs that allow them to work while studying. The benefits of community colleges are steadily becoming understood within Kenya, though the numbers of Kenyan students choosing to study at a community college is still relatively low. Lastly, other opportunities include establishing primary and secondary schools in Kenya, as Kenyan parents typically do not send their younger children abroad for education. 

The best months of the year to recruit students at educational fairs are January through March, May, and September through November.  


•    International Student Fairs Africa - September 29. 2021
•    Nairobi International Education Exhibition - February 4, 2022
•    EdExpo Kenya Student Recruitment Fair – March 11-12, 2022
•    QS World Grad School Tour Nairobi - May 11, 2020
•    KCSE (Local) - January - March & May - July
•    International - September - November & January – April


For more information on the Education sector, conact:

Catherine Malinda

Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Nairobi, Kenya
+254 (20) 363-6064;