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Project Case Study

Improving educational access, quality and equity for Kenya’s most disadvantaged people

Managing the implementation of the KEEP project

Whilst educational access and literacy rates in Kenya are above average for Africa – at over 90% for men and 84% for women – there are still pockets where children have very little access to education, particularly in very rural areas.

Adam Smith International (ASI) was contracted in 2013 to support the implementation of Kenya’s Essential Education Programme (KEEP) funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Between July 2012 and July 2016, KEEP provided £36.4 million to support the Government of Kenya (GoK) to improve educational access, quality and equity in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and in informal settlements in major urban areas.

Project info

Kenya Essential Education Programme (KEEP)


  • 2013



  • DFID

ASI supported a total of six programmes

  • The School Development Fund to finance non-state actors, including UNICEF, to improve education access and quality in the ASALs; and a cash transfer programme in Garissa County implemented by a sub-contractor;
  • Supporting Complementary Schools with Equitable Education’ to improve the quality of 400+ low-cost private schools in Nairobi and Mombasa and provide equitable access for the most marginalised;
  • The Primary Maths and Reading Initiative (PRIMR) collaborated with GoK and USAID to improve teaching and learning in the early grades of primary; and
  • The Education Accountability Fund to support non-state actors to enhance transparency and accountability in the education sector, particularly at the school level.

Overall, KEEP was assessed to have delivered a broader range of strong results despite the difficulty of delivery in some of Kenya’s most remote and hard-to-reach areas, and the challenge of delivering aid outside of GoK’s budget systems in very short timeframes.

KEEP was highly successful in influencing GoK programming at a national level through PRIMR and successful at the county level, notably through the School Development Fund. After four years of implementation, 800,000 children across Kenya have benefited from KEEP activities to improve access and learning.

Results include:

  • 330,000 children supported by DFID with textbooks and teacher training to improve reading in Standards1 and 2. The latest evidence shows remarkable progress in literacy outcomes;
    8% increase in enrolment in 500 partner schools in the ASALs; 12% in partner schools in informal settlements;
  • 39,500 children benefitting from cash subsidies or school fee payments to improve access to school – in the Garissa cash transfer programme, 3,189 out-of-school children were enrolled;
  • Supporting the pilot and expansion of innovative maths and reading initiatives for over 308,000 primary school children to learn more, at a faster rate;
  • New infrastructure, which has helped sustain enrolment and attendance: 63 classrooms and 16 dormitories constructed; 84 classrooms and dormitories rehabilitated; installation of 251 solar units, 768 latrines and handwashing facilities, 226 water tanks, and 450 fuel efficient stoves, the latter reducing fuel consumption by 50-70%;
  • Over 21,000 girls receiving sanitary pads to reduce absenteeism.

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