The Role of Low-cost Private Secondary Schools in Rural Kenya Under the ‘Free Secondary Education Policy’

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Miku Ogawa


This study aims to understand the role of private secondary schools in rural Kenya
under the Free Secondary Education Policy. Data were collected from four private schools over
two months in 2018 and 2019. All the schools had experienced instability due to low enrolment,
particularly after the policy was implemented in 2018. The decline in the schools’ income also
affected the quality of education. However, the results suggest that some students prefer to
complete their education at private schools as low-expense-boarders or as beneficiaries of
fee discounts. Other students choose private schools to avoid overcrowded classrooms and
travel far, especially when excluded from public schools. This study argues that despite limited
learning resources, private secondary schools in rural Kenya have an important place in the
public education system outside of the academic pyramid of public schools.


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