Country Profiles


Several students and teachers were killed by militants, tribesmen or troops in sporadic attacks on schools or attacks en route to or from school.991

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Kenya experienced post-election inter-ethnic violence between December 2007 and February 2008 following a dispute over presidential results. The conflict was resolved by the establishment of a power-sharing arrangement between the Opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, and President Mwai Kibaki.992

During the violence, eight schools in the former Rift Valley province were set on fire or looted.993

Although the formation of the coalition government restored calm, inter-tribal disputes and banditry affected education during the reporting period.

There was also growing concern about the activities of Al-Shabaab, the armed group based in neighbouring Somalia. Kenya accused Al-Shabaab militants of launching a series of attacks in Kenya in 2011, kidnapping and killing tourists and aid workers.994 In October that year, Kenya’s military entered Somalia to try to counter the threat from the group, but the incursion led to retaliatory attacks by Al-Shabaab in Kenya, sometimes affecting schools and teachers.995

Net primary enrolment was 83 per cent996 and net secondary enrolment was 50 per cent (2009).997 At tertiary level, gross enrolment was 4 per cent (2009).998 The adult literacy rate was 87 per cent (2010).999

Attacks on schools

In June 2010, a five-kilogramme bomb was discovered on the compound of Mwangaza primary school in Isiolo.1000 On 26 May 2012, unidentified assailants threw grenades at Horseed primary school in Dadaab refugee camp, injuring five school construction workers.1001

Attacks on school students, teachers and other education personnel

On 27 October 2011, a secondary school head teacher and a government official were among at least four killed when gunmen ambushed their vehicle 70 miles from Mandera, near the Somali border.1002 In January 2011, a teacher from Gerille Primary School in Wajir district was killed during an attack, causing teachers to flee and the school to close for two months. The slain teacher, Julius Gitonga, had been at the post for less than a week.1003

Eight children were killed in a Kilelengwani village classroom on 10 September 2012 during a raid allegedly mounted by members of the Pokomo community, an incident within a long-running dispute between the Pokomo and Orma over pasture.1004

In November 2012 in Garissa, Kenyan soldiers reportedly entered a school and shot at students while they were waiting to go into an examination, injuring two. The incident occurred as soldiers were searching the area for attackers in the wake of the killing of three soldiers in the town.1005

In March 2009, it was claimed that four education officials from Wajir South district and a driver on their way to a provincial primary school games tournament in Mandera town were abducted, allegedly by Al-Shabaab militants.1006

Military use of schools

In September 2012, police sent to curb inter-tribal violence reportedly created a camp inside a school in Dide Waride.1007

Attacks on higher education

In March 2009, one student was shot dead during demonstrations over the killing of two human rights activists on the University of Nairobi campus, when police employed tear gas and live ammunition. Although Kenyan police said three officers were under investigation,1008 no one had been prosecuted for the killing as of 2013.1009 Kenyan police, however, have regularly fired at protesting students.1010

Attacks on education in 2013

At least two attacks occurred along the Somali border. In one incident in February, an IED was set off at the Garissa primary school, where a campaign rally for a presidential contender was scheduled to be held the following day.1011 In another incident, a teacher was among six people killed during attacks in Damajaley and Abdisugow villages in May; the Kenya National Union of Teachers subsequently asked teachers to flee border-town schools for their safety in the absence of adequate protection.1012 There were also allegations that extremist groups were recruiting young militants in Kenya, in some cases in schools where students were reportedly being indoctrinated.1013

A library, an administration building and various offices at Kamwero Primary School were also set alight by bandits raiding villages in parts of Baringo county in early April. At least nine schools in the area were shut down as a result of these raids and more than 2,000 students reportedly dropped out of school.1014


991 This profile covers attacks on education in 2009-2012, with an additional section on attacks in 2013.

992 Brendan O’Malley, Education under Attack 2010 (Paris: UNESCO, 2010), 208-209; and World Vision, “Parents Afraid to Send Children to School due to Violent Attacks in Kenya’s North Rift, Says World Vision,” 30 August 2011. 

993 Inter-Agency Team: Kenya IDP emergency: Inter-agency rapid assessment on child protection education and gender-based violence (January 2008).

994 HRW, “Human Rights in Kenya,” last modified 20 August 2013; and “Kenya Profile,” BBC News, last modified 9 May 2013.

995 Ibid.

996 The World Bank, “School enrollment – primary (% net),” The World Bank Data (2009).

997 The World Bank, “School enrollment – secondary (% net),” The World Bank Data (2009).

998 The World Bank, “School enrollment – tertiary (% gross),” The World Bank Data (2009).

999 The World Bank, “Literacy rate - Adult, total,” The World Bank Data (2010).

1000 “Lessons suspended as bomb found at school,” Daily Nation, 14 June 2010.

1001 ‘’Eight Kenyans wounded in two grenade attacks,” AFP, 27 May 2012; “Six injured as grenade attack rocks northern Kenya,” Xinhua, 27 May 2012.

1002 “Kenya-Somalia Border Attack: Al-Shabab Suspected,” BBC News, 27 October 2011; David McKenzie, “4 Killed in Attack on Car Carrying School Exam Papers, Kenya Police Say,” CNN, 27 October 2011; and Clar Ni Chonghaile, “Deadly Attack on Bus near Kenya’s Border with Somalia,” The Guardian, 27 October 2011.

1003 Bosire Boniface, “Kenya’s North Eastern Province Safe for Teachers to Return, Officials Say,” Sabahi Online, 15 June 2012.

1004 “Smell of Rotting Flesh Lingers in Tana,” AFP, 12 September 2012. 

1005 “Garissa Residents Shot after Army Launches Crackdown,” BBC News, 20 November 2012.

1006 Dominic Wabala, “Somali Militia Kidnaps Kenyan Officials,” Daily Nation, 25 March 2009.

1007 “Smell of Rotting Flesh Lingers in Tana,” AFP, 12 September 2012. 

1008 HRW, “Kenya: Killing of Activists Needs Independent Inquiry,” 6 March 2009.

1009 Information provided by Human Rights Watch on 25 November 2013.

1010 Information provided by Human Rights Watch on 10 June 2013.

1011 AP, “7 Killed In Mosque Attack In Kenya’s East,” NPR, 21 February 2013.

1012 Boniface Ongeri, “North Eastern Kenya: The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) on Monday asked teachers in schools bordering the volatile Kenya-Somali border to stay away until the government guarantees them security,” The Standard, 27 May 2013.

1013 Peter Taylor, “On the trail of al-Shabab’s Kenyan recruitment ‘pipeline’,” BBC News, 28 September 2013; Nyambega Gisesa, “NIS reports that Secondary schools are radicalising young muslims,” Standard Digital, 4 October 2013; and “Al-Shabaab training linked to schools (NIS Report),” MSN Kenya, 4 October 2013.

1014 Mathews Ndanyi, “Kenya: 2,000 Pupils Out of School As Bandits Attack Baringo,” The Star, 4 April 2013.