The education system in Kenya comes with a rich history. After independence in 1963, Kenya adopted the 7-4-2-3 system. The digits represent the number of years a student should cover in a given education level. In the year 1985, the Kenyan government implemented an 8-4-4 model. This model has been active until recently in the year 2020. The government is now implementing a new (2-6-6-3) education curriculum framework.

 The new system is a three-tier structure that comprises of Early Years (grades 1-3), Middle school (grades 4-9), and Senior school education (grades 10-12).



The first level of the system runs for 5 years, whereby a child goes through two years of primary education. The subjects being taught at this level include mathematics activities, psychomotor, language activities, creative activities, environmental activities, and religious education activities. Moreover, educators are expected to integrate pertinent digital literacy, among other contemporary issues in all subjects being taught.


After the end of the pre-primary level, the learners are expected to be about 6 years of age before joining the lower primary.  At the lower primary level, they are required to start from grade 1 to 3 before graduating to the middle school level. The subjects taught include:

  • English Language.
  • Kiswahili Language or Kenyan Sign Language for the deaf.
  • Indigenous Language.
  • Environmental activities.
  • Mathematics activities.
  • Religious Education activities.
  • Hygiene and Nutrition activities.
  • Movement and Creative activities.

To promote the efficiency of the learning system, it is required that ICT tools get used in all areas of learning. This is to ensure that the learning is mainstreamed along with pertinent and contemporary issues.


In this level, learners are taking three years of upper primary and another three years of the more advanced lower secondary education.


At the upper primary level, the learners are offered exposure to broader learning from grades 4 to 7. It is expected that exposure is an excellent opportunity for them to take a more explorative and experimental curriculum. The subjects taught at this level includes:

  • Religious Education (CRE/IRE/ HRE).
  • Social Studies.
  • Science and Technology.
  • Home Science.
  • Physical and Health Education.
  • Creative Arts.
  • Kiswahili or the Kenyan Sign language for the deaf.

Optional subject: Foreign languages (French, German, Arabic, and Mandarin).

Like the other levels, ICT, pertinent, and other contemporary issues are required to be highly integrated into all subjects. Moreover, a pastoral program that trains the learners on how to deal with issues in their personal life effectively is conducted once a week.


Lower secondary contains grades 7, 8, and 9, which have been identified as lower secondary and grades 10, 11, and 12, which is the senior school level. At this point, learners have already been presented with a broad curriculum during their previous levels and can expose their abilities that range from career paths to interests. With this, it is believed that the learners can begin developing their personality before joining the senior secondary level.

Subjects taken at the lower secondary level.

 The subjects are divided into core and optional categories. With that, learners have the chance to make choices on their areas of preference. All the subjects should be delivered using the most appropriate ICT tools.

1. Core (12 subjects).

  • Business Studies.
  • Life Skills Education.
  • Health Education.
  • Integrated Science.
  • Religious Education- Learners have three choices, as seen below.
  1. Christian Religious Education.
  2. Hindu Religious Education.
  3. Islamic Religious Education.
  • Social Studies.
  • Kiswahili or Kenyan Sign for the deaf.
  • Sports and Physical Education.
  • Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education.

2. Optional subjects.

In this category, the learners are required to select a minimum of one and a maximum of two subjects. This is mainly aimed at ensuring that the learners are pursuing an education that is aligned with their interests and career choices, personalities, and personal abilities. These subjects have been listed below.

  • Foreign Languages (German, French, and Mandarin).
  • Visual Arts.
  • Computer Science.
  • Kenyan Sign Language.
  • Performing Arts.
  • Indigenous Languages.
  • Home Science.


This level is aimed at preparing or laying a firm foundation for advanced tertiary education to learners between 15 and 17 years. This level marks the fulfillment of basic education as laid out in the Education Act of 2013. At this point, learners are believed to have gained the necessary personality for working situations. From the fact that the learners are prepared to work, they are expected to empower, engage, and ethically participate in the socio-economic growth of the nation. Most importantly, the learners have already identified their career paths, and it is the right point at which they can begin specializing in their choices. The learners can choose different paths that range from Mathematics (STEM), Social Sciences to Science Technical Engineering. Thus, the learners must be getting more open days where they can exercise their decision-making in real-life situations. Additionally, parental and peer empowerment is vital at this stage.

Expected Age

School Level

< 4      


6- 9

Lower primary

9- 12

Upper primary

12- 15

Lower secondary


Senior school/tertiary


Majorly, there are two kinds of schools, namely public and private schools. Both are popular in the country, although a majority attends public schooling. In addition, the Kenyan education system provides for special educational needs. There is room for persons with the following to participate in the regular curriculum:

  • Hearing and visual impairment
  • Physical handicap
  • Learning disabilities
  • Autism
  • Communication disorders
  • The gifted and talented
  • Emotional and behavioral difficulties
  • Mild cerebral palsy

In cases of mental handicaps, deaf or blindness, severe cerebral palsy and autism, multiple handicaps, and profound disabilities, such persons cannot attend the regular education system.


The grading system in Kenya for the primary, secondary, and university levels differ. Primary education will indicate the marks attained by a student. Currently, primary school students are taking five compulsory subjects. Teachers will mark each examination with the highest possible mark being 100%. The highest mark a student can attain is 495 marks out of 500.

In secondary and university education levels, there is the use of letter grades. The letter grades for the secondary education system range between A to E. Grade A represents the best grade possible. In the right order, the possible grades include A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, and E for secondary examination results. E is the worst grade, which indicates a fail.

On the other hand, universities in Kenya do not come with any letter variations when grading. Although these students will obtain letter grades, “honors” are the final grading option.” These honors will include first-class honors, second class, second class lower, a pass, and a fail.  


The academic year for primary and secondary school students in Kenya are aligned. In one academic year, there are three terms. Each term has three months.

Term 1: January – March  

Term 2: May – July

Term 3: September – Early November

The months of April, August, Part of November and December are holidays.

N/B: The university level academic year will vary from one university to another.