The Kenyan system is based on the colonial British system and is characterized by a strict testing regime with no grade creep, or grading on a curve. Students take a test at the end of each trimester. The grade 8 final term exam is called the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) which marks the end of primary schooling. A student’s score on the KCPE dictates the level and quality of secondary school (high school) they are allowed to enter.
The KCPE is a 500 point exam. Students scoring in the 200s to 400s are likely to be accepted to increasingly prestigious secondary schools as their scores rise. We have found students scoring below 200 often do not excel in the traditional high school setting. Therefore, if a student scores below 200 on their KCPE, the student will enroll in a trade school instead of a traditional high school.
Our caseworkers watch for trends in grades and if they see a student’s grades are declining, they will inquire both at school and home. They will work with the student’s teachers and parents to support the student’s efforts to improve their grades.
If you notice your student’s grades are falling, please feel free to write an encouraging letter or email to the student. Your reinforcement of your student’s capability and your support is helpful to the child.
Secondary (high school) is four years long and is very competitive. There is a shortage of secondary education places. Only 47% of Kenyans graduate from secondary school. At the end of a student’s secondary school career, all graduating students take the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Exam. The average grade on the KCSE determines which post-secondary educational opportunities are open to the student.
The KCSE grades have not experienced grade inflation. A grade of “C” is the average for those who took the exam. As in the U.S. there are “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, and “F” students. In Kenya there are students receiving “E” as well. Students who receive “E” or “F” on their KCSE are considered to have failed the exam. We’ve seen students on the entire spectrum of grades successfully complete their education and become gainfully employed. We hope this is the case for your student and will do everything we can to support him or her while in the program.
Moving to Post-Secondary Schooling Within the Program
We have found that a child’s probability of securing a job is much higher if he or she goes on to post-secondary schooling of some sort. We accept applications for post-secondary scholarships as follows:
- B- and above: 4 year university
In Kenya, university is reserved for a few, very specialized, professions, fewer than in the U.S. Our students are taking classes in business studies, veterinary science, and actuarial studies.
- D- to C+: 2 year job specific course
Many professions that require a 4-year degree in the U.S. only require one or two of these diplomas in specific fields. Students take a 18-24 month program, or a series of shorter courses that allow students to accumulate certifications. We have students studying community service, front-office management, travel, graphic arts, marketing/sales and bookkeeping, among many others. It can also lead to further education certifications and diplomas. We estimate that this level of education is a “sweet” spot for employment opportunities following graduation.
- E and F: Trade school training (1 or 2 years)
The technical skills students receive through a trade school program are highly sought after in Kenya. Students have received training in auto mechanics, hairdressing, and catering.
If you have further questions, please contact Development Director, Lacey Kraft at [email protected]