Translating the Kenyan Basic Education Act into a Child-Friendly Education System

Brief Introduction

Kenyan government officials and KEPSHA have realised they cannot afford to lose an uneducated generation of future leaders. Together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), KEPSHA and the Ministry of Education have localized a UNICEF global initiative, 'Child-Friendly Schools' (CFS), into the Kenyan context beginning in 2002 and then re-launched in 2010 to improve quality education throughout Kenya. 

CFS challenges head teachers and all educational stakeholders to move 'beyond pedagogic excellence and performance outcomes' and instead focus 'on the needs of the child as a whole, not just on the school bits for which educators traditionally felt responsible' (Dr. Cream Wright, UNICEF 2009). In 2004, CFS was operational in 33 countries worldwide. Today, CFS is active in more than 90 countries.

CFS in Kenya

Among these 90 countries, Kenya has been cited by UNICEF as one of the most successful countries in managing to mainstream the concept of CFS into its national education policies, such as the Basic Education Act (2013). A child-friendly school can be described as a school the promotes inclusive classrooms, safety and protection, equity and equality, nutrition and health and community partnerships and linkages. 

In 2010, more than 1200 head teachers in Kenya were trained in CFS in Nairobi, West Pokot, Turkana, Kwale, Isiolo, Marsabit, Moyale, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Ijara districts. In 2013, 10 additional counties were targeted reaching an additional 1000 primary school head teachers across the country. 

Together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, all head teachers are engaging in Action Research to identify opportunities for local strategies in school improvement. Other current initiatives include training head teachers in Disaster Risk Reduction, Emergency Preparedness and Response, and real-time monitoring of CFS indicators through SMS technology. 

The 5 CFS Thematic areas

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Take Your Free CFS SMS Survey

  As a KEPSHA member, you are entitled to participate in a free CFS SMS survey that will ask you 25 free questions (via SMS) about levels of CFS in your school. More than 1200 schools have already completed their surveys. To begin, just text the letters KEPSHA to the number 20850. Then follow the instructions in the SMS messages.
An Inclusive Classroom promotes effective teaching and learning in a structured, but flexible learning-centered and child-centered environment by encouraging meaningful child-participation, appropriate gender responsiveness, equality-based interactive teaching methodologies, proper feedback mechanisms, and maximum use of locally available resources for teaching and learning. 


Click on the video below to see some examples of inclusive classrooms and a number of self-reflective questions about your school's current state of inclusive classrooms.


A school that promotes Safety and Protection should be a haven for peace and address pupils' physical, mental and emotional development in a holistic manner. A safe and protective school is free from abuse, respects diversity, and engages in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness and Response planning exercises on a regular basis. Pupils learn when they are safe; therefore protection is one of the highest priorities for ensuring a conducive learning environment for all. 


An Equity and Equality promoting school promotes the rights and well-being of all children irrespective of gender, ethnicity, geography, socio-economic background, or religion. The school should enroll all categories of children, including orphaned pupils, pupils with special needs, and pupils with little to no access to funds. The school should purposely seek out non-attending and non-enrolled girls and boys to ensure that they attend regularly and have the equal opportunity to learn. 


A school that promotes Health and Nutrition provides support for the physical, mental and emotional needs of children in the form of life skills, HIV/AIDS education, adequate separate sanitation facilities for boys and girls, safe clean drinking water, deworming programmes, nutritious meals (especially for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children), environmental cleanliness, and easy-access to medical services and personnel in the case of an emergency and for regular check-ups. 


A school that enhances Community Partnerships  actively involves families in its school activities and promotes school-community partnerships to mobilize private and public educational stakeholders to provide support for delivering quality education for all pupils. Schools that actively involve parents in local school management and initiate income-generating activities increase ownership of the responsibility and opportunity for improving the level of educational quality for pupils.

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