Primary school is the first phase of the Kenyan 8-4-4 education system and serves students between the ages of 6 and 14. The main purpose of primary education is to prepare students to participate in the social, political, and economic wellbeing of the country and prepare them to become global citizens. At School4Life we want to develop self-reliant students who are disciplined and are able to express themselves, while at the same time providing a well-rounded education experience.
In Kenya, primary school years are split into what they call Standard One (1st year) through Standard Eight (last year). At the end of Standard Eight, pupils sit the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education, the results of which are used to determine placement at secondary school. Candidates are examined in five subjects: Kiswahili, English, Science and Agriculture, Mathematics, and Social Studies.
The school year in Kenya begins in January and ends in November, with three school vacations taking place in April, August, and December. Since grade repetition was banned, at the end of each school year, all students advance to the next grade, even if they fail their examinations.
Free primary education previously existed in Kenya until the mid 80s, and it was re-introduced in January 2003 by President Mwai Kibaki. Since then, education in public schools is now free and compulsory (Kenya Constitution, Article 53, 2010).
In spite of the efforts to make primary education free and accessible to all, approximately 3.9 million children still remain out of school due to hidden costs (Census Report, 2009), therefore the government‘s initial objective of every child attaining primary education remains unattained. In addition, prior research has established an increase in non – enrollment and drop-out rates in various parts of the country due to these hidden costs, such as examination, interview, registration, and lunch fees, as well as costs for school uniforms, learning materials, and transportation to and from school. This poses the question of how free “free primary education” really is.
At School4Life, we want to enable vulnerable children by providing primary education without having to face the issue of paying such hidden fees.