Focus on Kenya

About the project


Kenya invests only 1.8% of its education budget in early years education and development. Theirworld is campaigning for Kenyan decision-makers, in national and sub-regional governments, to increase this to 10%.


We’re investing in research and working alongside local community partners to raise the profile of the importance of children’s early years across the political spectrum.


By collaborating with local partners, we've developed toolkits and resources to empower community advocates to achieve sustainable change on pre-primary education and early childhood development.

Influencing the conversation to effect change

The benefits of early childhood education and development are beyond doubt. It’s through early years education, play and stimulation that a child’s future relationship with the world is built, and 90% of a child’s brain development takes place before they’re five years old.

Nevertheless, many countries under-invest in early childhood education and development, which ultimately condemns millions of children to a life of unfulfilled potential. At Theirworld we see it as part of our mission to raise the profile of the early years’ importance to every child’s life opportunities and to encourage donors to increase funding for pre-primary education and development.

Our work in Kenya is a good example of our ability to adapt our approach to campaigning depending on individual countries’ social and political landscapes. With the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, we’ve been able to fund research, reach influencers and build relationships that mean early childhood education and development has a better chance of receiving increased investment.

Our aim is for Kenya to increase early years funding to 10% of the country’s education budget. However, we’ve needed to tailor our campaigning in Kenya as a result of its unique political structure.

We believe a day will come that every child will have equal access to quality education, starting from pre-primary. Open letter from Theirworld’s Global Youth Ambassadors to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Aiming for a 10% commitment

The foundation of our work in Kenya has been the links we’ve made with local community partners. Collaborating with groups who bring on-the-ground local expertise means we’re able to apply vital contextual knowledge to our work.

For example, we engaged Kenyan communications partner Livestream Impact, who helped ensure early childhood education and development has become part of prominent discussions in the national media and on social channels.

Research has been another crucial component of our work in Kenya. By commissioning deep analysis of the country’s political, social and economic layers we’ve gained information that we can share with partners at a local level.

This is important because education budgets in Kenya are controlled at a local county level; and with 47 different County Governments nationally, the peculiarities of individual regions’ systems and strategies can be difficult to navigate.

Investing in research means we’re able to identify formal policy mechanisms within government, but also, crucially, the more informal social and cultural levers that can influence change.

We’ve shared these insights through advocacy workshops with local civil society groups across several counties in Kenya, so we’re using our resources to equip collaborators in a sustainable way. The information we gather remains within communities who become more able to make the case for improving the opportunities for their youth.

As our work in Kenya progresses we want to raise the profile of pre-primary care further by widening our focus beyond institutional education.

For example, we aim to highlight the impact parents and caregivers can have on early years educational development. We’ve already seen some success here, with a prominent TV panel discussion highlighting the importance of parental engagement while children were at home during the pandemic.

Education has the power to transform lives, and this begins with the first years of a child’s life. We’re going to continue to demonstrate to those in power why 10% of Kenya’s education budget needs to go towards the early years – and why more investment overall needs to go to children during their first five years.


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