Our program is grounded in the belief that children’s lives are changed when they receive an education. Students typically enter our program in primary school and support continues until students complete at least secondary school. Many go on to get a post-secondary education.
We are committed to fulfilling our mission by selecting students with the highest potential to successfully complete the program. Once a student has completed our rigorous selection and interview process, they are paired with a sponsor who supports the educational costs of the student. This includes tuition, uniforms, books and supplies, and meals. For students attending boarding school, sponsorship also provides housing and basic needs and supplies.
The next step is to enroll each student in one of our focus schools, which often requires a student to change schools.
Kenyan School System
Until recently, the Kenyan school system was based on the colonial British system instituted in 1985 and is characterized by a strict testing process (content-based) where there is no grading on a curve. A change to a new a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is underway with the school system expected to be fully transitioned by 2023. CBC is designed to emphasize the significance of developing skills and knowledge and also applying those competencies to real life situations.
Currently, the elementary school equivalent in Kenya is called “primary school” and includes Classes 1-8 (equivalent to US Grades 1-8). Under CBC this is changing to Grades 1-6. The high school equivalent in Kenya has been called “secondary school” and includes the equivalent of US grades 9-12. This will be changing to Junior Secondary School for Grades 7-9 and Senior School for Grades 10-12. Currently secondary levels are referred to as “Form” (i.e. 9th grade is equivalent to Form 1). The change to CBC will affect our program and our case managers are already planning for adjustments.
Children joining our program are normally in primary school (attending the equivalent of US grade 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6). In 2009, Kenya implemented free universal primary education, however sufficient funding for public schools was not provided to implement that mandate. As a result, primary public schools in Kenya tend to be overcrowded and under-resourced. Instead, we work with a small number of private schools that have a track record of delivering strong academic performance, as measured by the Kenya Comprehensive Primary Exam (KCPE) taken by students in Class 8 (8th grade).
Our students attend one of our focus primary schools in the Dagoretti slum. At the end of elementary school students take the national exam called KCPE. This is a 500-point exam. Since 2019, government policy requires 100% transition to high school so our program ensures that students join high school but for those that wish to join trade school due to their scholastic strength they are allowed to do so.
With the change in education system, Kenya is phasing out the KCPE and replacing it with continuous assessment tests and a final test in Grade 6 which leads to transition to Junior Secondary (Grade 7-9).
Secondary (High) Schools
At the secondary school level (currently equivalent to US grades 9-12) we send students to public secondary schools sponsored by the Kenyan government. These are typically boarding schools and are tiered based on the KCPE test scores. They all provide the quality of education that assures admission to a post-secondary program. Students are enrolled in schools based on their KCPE score.
At the end of Form 4 (US 12th grade), all graduating students take the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Exam. The average score on the KCSE determines which post-secondary educational opportunities are open to the student and what kind of employment they can pursue. For example, a student may want to be a social worker, but if they scored too low on their KCSE, the government can decide that they don’t qualify to be a social worker and instead go to school to be an electrician.
As part of the transition to Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), Secondary will be divided into Junior Secondary (Grade 7-9) and Senior Secondary (Grade 10-12). The KCSE will likely no longer be used after CBC is fully implemented, but we will adapt to the new system and assist students in making plans for post-secondary education.
When students finish high school, we encourage them to enroll in a post-secondary educational program. We require all students who pursue a post-secondary education to commit to participation in computer training and certification and career counseling, delivered by NRCF. In return, students receive ongoing support from their sponsors.
Students participate in a post-secondary school selection and review process with an NRCF Committee before embarking on the next phase of their education.
Post-Secondary education varies depending on the type. There are four levels:
- Degree program that is generally four years – similar to College or University in the US
- Diploma program that is generally two to three years – similar to Community College in the US
- Certificate Program – generally 6 months to 1 year and consists of technical courses – similar to a Vocational/Technical Institute in the US
- Craft and Artisan Program – commonly referred to as Trade School, these programs are designed to give students without high academic capabilities hand skills to prepare them for a specific occupation – similar to a Vocational/Technical Institute in the US.