The past two general elections in Kenya, 2012 and 2017, have seen presidential aspirants promise the possibility to initiate subsidized school fees and eventually free secondary school education in the country. The most recent statement by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his 2017 election manifesto was to possibly kick start this off by 2019. This has since been met with widespread local and international mixed criticism of how realistic and feasible this project would be. How “free of charge” would it be? And what would it take to be free of charge? Jeremiah Kambi, co-founder and CEOAiducation Kenya shares his thoughts on this discussion here:

“Kenya’s debt has passed 5 trillion shillings. The government’s attempts to raise more funds from fuel are being resisted by all and could eventually be barred. It would take the current government a critical strategic decision to stop all development projects and borrow more funds to implement free secondary school education. This would be seemingly dangerous for the already overburdened economy – we are already below 5% growth. In such a developing country as Kenya with widespread poverty, hunger and major terror threats from the Al Shabab, this policy change might take time. My feeling is we may realize this in the next four to five years, as the Kenyan government reassesses its strategy and comes up with funds to implement it.

In my opinion, this promise was pure political strategy. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government already has a Big Four agenda which is a grand action plan with focus on food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all. If the current government achieves any of the big four, chances for reelection will still remain high. I don’t therefore think there is any political pressure to offer free secondary school education. Forty percent of Kenyans would rather pay for quality education than just a free of charge public secondary school. However, the government can pull the carpet under us by abolishing boarding school. If this is done, then the era of free secondary school education will have downed on Kenya. Personally, I will support the abolishing of boarding schools for free secondary schools. But, even if it were done – where are the class rooms? Where are the teachers? Where is the equipment and supplies? I think it’s going to be after 2022 that this debate will come again and will take the easiest way as always for the elected government.”


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