Graphic: Female teacher in a classroom setting. This article explains junior secondary education in Kenya. Source/Julisha.Info

Important Note: In October 2022, the government of Kenya established a taskforce to collect public views on the implementation of the Competency-based Curriculum (CBC) and make recommendations. The collection of public opinions was concluded in November 2022. The government is currently reviewing the findings. Once this process is completed, we will update this article to include the changes that will be made to the curriculum.

Junior Secondary education in Kenya is completed in three years under the competency-based curriculum (CBC) system. CBC is the country's education system introduced in December 2017. Under the CBC system, each learner’s progress is monitored over a period of 2-6-3-3 years, evenly divided into three major levels of education: 

  • Early years education 
  • Middle school education 
  • Senior school, tertiary, and university education

Under the CBC system, Junior Secondary is part of middle school. Learners in middle school transit from upper primary to junior secondary after a national examination. Junior secondary education serves as a bridge between primary and secondary school for students aged 12 to 14 years. All junior secondary education activities are centred on age-appropriate education, student well-being and transition support for students.

You can click here to learn more about upper primary subjects, examinations and education in Kenya. There are core and optional (elective) subjects for students entering Grade seven, eight, and nine.  

All learners in Junior secondary level must take the core subjects. They are as follows:

  1. English
  2. Swahili or Kenyan Sign Language
  3. Mathematics
  4. Integrated Science
  5. Health Education
  6. Pre-Technical and Pre-Career Education
  7. Social Studies
  8. Religious Education: learners choose one of the following:      - Christian Religious Education - Islamic Religious Education  - Hindu Religious Education
  9. Business Studies
  10. Agriculture
  11. Life Skills
  12. Sports and Physical Education

All the learners starting junior secondary school must take at least one and no more than two optional subjects. The optional subjects are:

  1. Visual Arts
  2. Performing Arts
  3. Home Science
  4. Computer Science
  5. Foreign Languages (German, French, Mandarin/Chinese, or Arabic)
  6. Kenyan Sign Language
  7. Indigenous Languages

It should be noted that in Dadaab Refugee Camps, the schools will offer optional subjects based on available subject teachers and the school’s capacity. The majority of junior secondary level schools will provide computer science, Kenya Sign Language, Arabic and performing arts. UNHCR, in collaboration with partner agencies in Kakuma and Dadaab provides free access to education (all learning and teaching materials) to all learners.


If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker in Kenya, you can also have your children enrolled in schools in the camps if you have a Ration Card or, Proof of Registration (Manifest). Children can join schools in the camps or other parts of the country if they are living outside the camps. If you do not have any of these documents, your child will still have a right to be in school. The school head has to be informed of the loss or lack of the required documents.

Integrated Science learning areas for junior secondary schools in Kenya

Integrated science is one of the core subjects for learners in Grades seven, eight and nine.  To teach integrated science at this level, the Ministry of Education tasked and equipped teachers with a Biology/Chemistry subject combination. The learning areas cover basic physics, chemistry, biology, and general science information.

Health Education learning areas for junior secondary schools in Kenya

Health Education is one of the core subjects at junior secondary level. Teachers who have been trained in Biology/Home science are in charge of delivering the learning objectives for health education. Learners are taught environmental science, public health, personal hygiene, and nutrition in Health Education

Pre-career and Pre-technical education at for junior secondary learners in Kenya

This mandatory subject aims to provide learners with a wide range of skills in preparation for in readiness for enhanced vocational training at senior school and tertiary level. Teachers are specially trained to teach maths, physics and home science. Students learn woodworking, metalworking, technical drawing, electricity, home management, typewriting, shorthand, auto-mechanics, and accounting basics.

How does a learner join junior secondary school?

From January 2023, the first transition from upper primary to junior secondary school will take place. The Ministry of Education allows Grade Six students to select their preferred junior secondary schools. The list of schools will be provided by the school headteacher. In August 2022, junior secondary schools for Grade seven admissions in 2023 were chosen.

Learners can join public or private schools authorised to offer junior secondary education in Kenya. While admissions and learning in public junior secondary schools is paid for by the government, parents who can afford to send their children to authorised private secondary schools can do so. Headteachers have access to the list of the authorised schools. 

After passing their final upper primary education exams in Grade Six, learners can join junior secondary schools of their choice. This examination is known as the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA). The first Grade six KPSEA is set to take place from November 28 to November 30, 2022.

How does one select a junior secondary school for their child?

All guardians and parents are expected to collaborate with school head teachers to assist learners in selecting appropriate schools for their junior secondary education. All headteachers were required to guide learners during the first selection exercise, which ended on August 30, 2022. The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) provided headteachers access to a portal with a list of all accredited junior secondary schools. The learners would then select from the available schools.

What junior secondary school choices are available for the learners?

The Ministry of Education requires that each learner chooses the following schools when selecting junior schools:

  • Two National junior schools
  • Two Regional junior schools
  • Two County junior schools
  • Four Sub- County level junior schools
  • Two private junior secondary schools

Please keep in mind that education costs for learners admitted to private junior secondary schools will be met by the parents who have agreed to their admission. After finishing junior secondary education, learners are expected to proceed to senior school. You can learn more about senior school education here. The national examination council (KNEC) can be reached through contact details available through this link.


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