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October 20, 2008

Kenya Homeschool Update—October 2008

In September of 2008, ten homeschool leaders from around the world attended HSLDA’s annual National Homeschool Leadership Conference. The following is an update about Mary Muriuki, founder of Home School Services and Elimu Nyumbani—two organizations dedicated to supporting home education in Kenya. It also describes the legal atmosphere for homeschooling and the growth of the movement.

Chris Klicka and Mary Muriuki
Chris Klicka and Mary Muriuki at the Homeschool Leaders Conference in 2008.

Introduction and Background

Mary Muriuki and her husband Andrew have two children, ages 16 and 12, whom they have homeschooled in Kenya for the past ten years.

First introduced to the idea of home education in 1996 while living in Australia, the Muriukis were excited to discover an alternative to mandatory education through school institutions. They had always desired to play a major role in influencing their children’s hearts and minds positively, and when they met (in Australia) a group of South African homeschoolers, they were fascinated.

When they moved back to Kenya in 1998, the Muriukis decided to begin homeschooling. They enrolled their children, then 6 and 2, in the Australian Christian Academy and started using the A.C.E. School of Tomorrow Curriculum.

Later, the Muriukis began purchasing curriculum from South Africa because it was cheaper than curriculum available in Kenya. As Mary became more confident, she transitioned to a more eclectic method. Now, ten years later, she is settled on the Principle Approach (see Kenya Update—January 2008 for a description) with an emphasis on studying the original scriptures in Hebrew and Greek for a more solid and accurate scriptural foundation.

Homeschooling Spreads

As one of the pioneers of homeschooling in Kenya, Mary began to receive inquiries from parents about homeschooling, and soon found herself to be a main resource for home educators.

Mary received several requests to educate other children in her home and did this with the help of some additional teachers. At one time, she had 13 children going to school in her house. Unfortunately, this arrangement forced her into the role of a school administrator which severely limited her ability to teach and influence her own children.

In 2003, Andrew and Mary re-evaluated their situation in light of their original goals and decided to close the school. Mary then registered a profit-making company called “Home School Services” to provide services to homeschooling families. It was time for parents to teach their own children, but Mary was ready and eager to help them succeed.

When Mary’s school closed, some parents opted to return their children to regular school. With those who chose to homeschool, the Muriukis formed a homeschool group and started working together to meet the needs of the children. Home School Services began workshops for new homeschoolers, set up a resource center, organized extracurricular activities, and provided legal cover. To help meet the demand of inquiries about homeschooling, in 2004 Mary published a book called Homeschooling My Child in Kenya.

After some time, Mary developed a national vision for the homeschooling concept. She realized, though, that the average Kenyan family could not afford to buy curriculum and pay the fees to sustain the work of Home School Services. To help Kenyans homeschool, she would have to raise money from donors.

In December 2005, Mary registered a non-profit organization called “Elimu Nyumbani,” which means “Home School” in Kiswahili, Kenya’s national language. Mary also established a partnership with TaNaKh Academy, which focuses on equipping parents and students to learn the Hebrew and Greek that is essential in their curriculum. Elimu Nyumbani is completely volunteer-driven.

Elimu Nyumbani currently has a membership of 20-30 families, serving a total of 35-50 children in different seasons. To date, Mary has trained approximately 200 people.

The Muriukis’ and their organization’s goal is to raise the money needed to expand their services. They hope to rent or purchase a facility that has an office, classrooms for co-op classes, a playground, sports facilities, library, computer lab, and a training/conference room. They also need to hire staff, write their own curriculum, develop a website, and publish material.

The estimated number of indigenous homeschool families in Kenya is about 100.

Legal Atmosphere

There are no laws against homeschooling in Kenya. In the Constitution and Children’s Act of 2001, parents have the right to provide education for their child. However, the term “education” is not clearly defined. Ministry of Education officials usually go by the definition of “education” in the Education Act, which only refers to education in a school setting. They generally say, then, that homeschooling is illegal because it is not recognized by the Ministry of Education.

The Education Act is currently being reviewed by a task force. It is uncertain whether homeschoolers will be included in new language, but the Muriukis and other Kenyan homeschoolers have formally requested that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education include them in the process as stakeholders. To date, they have not received a response.

The Kenyan Constitution is also in the process of change. The draft constitution so far allows parents to set up independent schools but regulates them, which would make homeschooling difficult and infringe on parents’ freedom of choice.

 Other Resources

More information about homeschooling in Kenya >>

You can provide financial support to the homeschooling movement in countries like Kenya by donating to the Home School Foundation’s International Homeschooling Fund.