Information by Country

Kenya: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Kenya has more than 40 tribal groups, encompassing numerous cultures, religions, traditions, customs and languages. Unifying these groups remains a challenge, but the country has been able to build on its current strengths and past achievements to tackle the obstacles that hinder education today.

The Kenya Education Sector Support Programme (KESSP) includes a five-year gender and education investment programme and states that the coordination of initiatives from other agencies, such as civil societies, will be through the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI).

The introduction of free primary education has greatly increased girls’ enrolment. Although Kenya has achieved gender parity nationally, there are still significant gender and geographic disparities, with nomadic districts recording very low girls’ participation in primary education.

Barriers to girls’ education

  • Emergencies caused by drought have curbed school attendance by both girls and boys.
  • Child labour due to high levels of poverty, particularly in rural areas, keeps girls out of school.
  • Religious and cultural traditions generally favour boys.
  • Nomadic tribes have very low school enrolment rates, especially for girls.

UNGEI in action

The UNGEI partnership was initiated in 2004, and its objectives are to coordinate and promote girls’ education activities. Partnership meetings are an opportunity to share information and advocate for girls’ education. UNGEI, however, still needs to be strengthened at the grass-roots level through partners.

Key initiatives

  • A five-year investment programme for girls' education within the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme launched in 2005 is coordinated through UNGEI.
  • UNGEI partners have developed ‘Terms of Reference’ that guide the initiative’s activities.
  • Advocacy and community mobilization are ongoing.
  • UNGEI is a key player in the development and review of a girls’ education policy in Kenya.
  • Research and documentation of best practices is one of UNGEI’s priorities.


The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Kenya Chapter, is the lead non-governmental organization (NGO) and works in collaboration with the Government and UNICEF. Other partners at the national level include local NGOs, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Oxfam GB, UK Department For International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

UNGEI partners have conducted a variety of girls’ education activities at the provincial and community levels, but these projects are not necessarily labelled as UNGEI activities.

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

UNGEI has participated in the sector-wide approach to planning (SWAP) process that resulted in the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme, for which UNGEI is the key framework for girls’ education in Kenya.


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