Kenya’s education system features eight years of Primary Education, four years of Secondary Education and then four years of University Education. Upon completing Primary School, the student gains a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and upon completing Secondary School, the student gains a Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. However, some private schools do offer a system of education not unlike that in the United Kingdom, complete with O-Level exams taken at the end of Secondary School and then A-Level exams taken two years into High School. Pre-School is also available.
Primary School is both compulsory and free; beginning at the age of 6 or 7 after a year of Kindergarten has been completed. Each year in school is known as a ‘Standard’ corresponding to its year in sequence, i.e. Year 1 is Standard 1, Year 8 is Standard 8 etc. At the end of each year, students take exams and only progress onto the next year if they are successful in their exams, otherwise they repeat the year. In Standard 8 at the end of the year, the students take the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education Exams instead.
Secondary Schools in the country are divided down into three types; Government Funded (Public), Private and Harambe. Public Secondary Schools are open to all, Private Schools run independently of government funding but may offer better standards and variety such as apprenticeship solutions and technical schools, while Harambe Schools function like drop-out schools and tend to accept students with lower scores but do not receive full government funding. Students attend Secondary School for four years before sitting the School Leaving Exam at the end of the fourth year, and being awarded a Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education upon successful completion. Plans are currently underway to offer free Secondary Education to all Kenyans.
Additionally, some Kenyans may choose to enter one of several Vocational Schools or Colleges which offer courses for two or three years at a time and award certificates, diplomas and higher national diplomas in Business Education, Secretarial Studies, Teacher Training, Journalism, Design, Foreign Languages, Technical Skills, Tourism, Culinary Studies, Media, Computer Studies, Nursing and Accounting. Across the country there are 48 universities, 22 public and 26 private, the oldest being the University of Nairobi.