By 2018

students impacted

by Reading Kenya

By 2018

teachers trained

on effective, child-centered strategies to promote literacy in their classrooms

By 2018

school libraries

supported through the provision of collections of children’s books in English, Kiswahili and Maa

Located in East Africa, Kenya is home to seventy distinct ethnic groups and over 30 different languages. Recent successes in Kenya’s education sector include an increase in primary school enrolment, from 8.8 million in 2010 to 9.86 million in 2011 (Government of Kenya 2012).

With more children attending school, new efforts must be made to ensure that there are sufficiently qualified teachers. However, the Kenyan government reports limited funding for teacher training and continuous professional development (Government of Kenya). In fact, a survey of primary schools in Kenya found that Grade 6 teachers scored only 60% on tests designed for their students (UNESCO 2014).

About Reading Kenya

Reading Kenya logoThrough Reading Kenya, CODE and its local partner, the National Book Development Council of Kenya (NDBCK), hope to help improve the reading and writing skills of early primary school students in their mother-tongue.

In Kajiado, home to many marginalized communities, too few teachers are adequately-prepared to teach reading and writing and schools are unable to supply the engaging books needed to motivate students to read and learn for pleasure.

The project addresses these issues by: 

  • providing professional development to teachers
  • increasing access to culturally-relevant and engaging materials in English, Kiswahili and Maa; and
  • building the capacity of the local education system

Reading Kenya aims to develop a culture of reading so that children can grow up to be critical thinkers, and life-long learners with a better chance at a bright future.

CODE’s Burt Award for African Literature, which supports the writing and publication of high-quality fiction in English for young adults (from 12 to 18 years old) has also been present in Kenya since 2011.


Kenya, Africa map

Country Stats

Capital: Nairobi

Population: 44.353 million

Area: 582,650 km2

GDP (per capita): $133 billion

Languages: Kenya has two official languages, English and Kiswahili, but there are 67 spoken languages throughout the country.

Literacy Rate: 85.9%

Literacy Rate for Women: 86.6%

Literacy Rate for Men: 85.2%

Out-of-school Rate: 13.8% of school-aged children do not attend school

Where We Work: Kajiado region, a semi-arid area inhabited by the Maasai community

Did you know?

In this and other arid regions of Kenya, an average of 7 out of 10 children in class 3 cannot do class 2 work.* Are Our Children Learning? Annual Learning Assessment Report 2011, 2012 Summary of Findings

Recent News and Stories

Reading Kenya Research BriefMar 13, 2018Reading Kenya is a comprehensive literacy program centered on principles of gender equality, active learning, active teaching and encouraging the use of mother tongue language in the classroom. full article...
The Legacy of a Visionary PhilanthropistJan 31, 2018On October 16, 2017, CODE lost a dear friend. Mr. William (Bill) Burt, the visionary behind the literary award, which bears his name, passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. full article...
CODE Announces the Winner of the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature All-StarsSep 29, 2017CODE is proud to announce the winner, the honour book, and the finalists for the 2017 Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature: All-Stars. The National Book Development Council of Kenya in partnership with CODE hosted a fun-filled award ceremony full article...
Announcing the 2017 All-Stars ShortlistSep 08, 2017CODE is delighted to announce its Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature shortlist. This first regional competition is dubbed the All-Stars edition because all of the first prize winners of CODE’s Burt Award in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and full article...


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Photos From the Field

Our work takes us around the globe and close to home. We love to share photos of the faces and places where your contributions are making a real difference.