The Problem

For a long time, non-formal schools are not recognized by government in Kenya. Catering the need of more than 45% of children in urban informal settlements (slums) by charging low tuition, these school fill the gap between free public schools (often over-populated with student teacher ratio of 60:1 or higher, and perform worse in national exams) and expensive private schools for the privileged few).

However, these schools struggle daily to make their ends met and to keep students at school. Not recognized by the Ministry of Education, not only do these non-formal schools receive no support from government, but also they are charged by county government expensive single business permit ranging from 10,000-50,000 KES per year depending on the number of students.  

Since the formation of our field partner, Complementary Schools Association of Kenya in 2008 (then known as Non-formal Schools Association of Kenya), our first and foremost task is to work with the Ministry of Education to have our schools recognized - we are complementing government's work in providing Basic Primary Education, not running for-profit business. Their two main achievements are:

1. Chairing the APBET (Alternative Provider of Basic Education & Training) Registration Guidelines development board since 2013, we drafted the Guidelines together with the government, and it was officially announced on March 14, 2016.

2. Successfully negotiated  for over 500 member schools with Nairobi County Government for a fee reduction from 50,000 to 10,000 KES of its single business permit.

However, the dissemination and registration of non-formal schools to APBET schools under the Guidelines have not started, because of a lack of funding from the government to conduct sensitization and education of sub-county officials who are in charge of inspection. 


Our Solution

We are raising 1.5 million KES funding for sensitization meetings in over 16 counties in Kenya, expecting to start in early September, 2016. The participants will include: 

  1. over 2,000 school owners;
  2. Sub-county Education Directors
  3. Public Health Officers
  4. Sub-County Ward Manager
  5. Sub-county Licensing Officer
  6. Sub-county adult and continue learning director

We expect that the meeting will be done in a month; and as soon as it finishes, 85% of non-formal schools will be successfully registered within 3 months, with the below benefit:

  1. All registered schools will not need to pay 10,000-50,000 KES per year for single business permit but one-time 1,000 KES APBET registration fee to the Ministry of Education.
  2. All primary school students from class 1 - 8 will receive 700 KES/year from the Government to purchase learning materials.
  3. All grade 8 or grade 12 students will be exempted from paying national exam fees, saving every grade 8 student 800 KES/year and every grade 12 student 4500KES/year.
  4. After registration, the government will be able to assess the needs of these schools and monitor the provision of quality-education.
  5. These schools will be able to receive support from international organizations that would not risk donating to a school that might be forced close the very next day without leaving a trace under government system

Social Return on Investment Rate

With the above-mentioned most direct benefit, for every delayed year of APBET registration, a typical non-formal school of 200 students offering early childhood and primary education would have to pay 50,000 KES more and students would lose 117,000 KES government support, adding up a total loss of 167,000 KES. In comparison, the sensitization will benefit 2,000 schools, with a one-time cost of 750KES ($7.5) spent per school, making up a 1:223 staggering social return on investment rate.


The right to free and basic education under the constitution (article 53) is a right that should be enjoyed equally by all children without direct or indirect discrimination from the State or any individual (article 27). The development of APBET guidelines, as a policy measure, must be implemented to ensure that those institutions that fit under the definition of APBET abide by the criteria and deadlines
— Teresa Mutua, the International Commission of Jurists - Kenya Chapter