Why Our Services Are Needed

The Problem:


The Kenyan government provides free public schooling through 8th grade.  Public school classrooms in these schools often hold as many 60 students for every teacher, though schools in marginalized communities have only one teacher for 100 pupils. 

The government requires families to share the costs at secondary school level which has significant negative consequences for students from financially impoverished families, causing only half of the pupils completing 8th grade to continue their schooling.  Behind this sobering data are multitudes of stories of unrealized potential and access denied, especially for girls.

According to a 2014 report by a task force on improving the performance of public primary schools, the transition rate from primary to secondary schools in Nairobi was at an all-time low.  The repercussions of this lack of opportunity--including earlier pregnancies and lower income earning potential for both boys and girls--lasts a lifetime.

At the introduction of free primary education in 2003, free public primary schools enrolled a total of 7,117,300 students in grade 1. However, in 2011(8 years later), only 498,756 of those students joined high school at form 1. This translates to over 6,618,544 school drop-outs from the first batch of FPE enrollees of 2003.


Because of the challenges faced in public schools, many students do not acquire the skills needed to gain access to the job market and to become leaders and productive members of their communities. Rote learning is still too often the accepted mode of teaching, with critical thinking, problem solving and practical skills applicable to sustaining livelihoods missing.  Entrepreneurship skills training, experiential learning and encouraging students to give back or find ways to improve their local communities are proven, evidence-based methods to meet that need.  It is our goal to bring these learning experiences to more students, thereby building a stronger Africa.


Since January 2018, Kenya Big Picture has acted on the belief that all of Africa’s children deserve access to an excellent school - the kind of school that will allow them to realize their full potential to achieve rewarding work and a fulfilling life. That focus flows naturally from Kenya Big Picture Learning’s belief that every child regardless of background-can harness  their possibilities every day of every school year.  This is the major concern that is especially urgent for families in Kenya’s low-income neighborhoods, who are most likely to lack quality options. 

The Opportunity:


Today, thanks to courageous school founders, leaders and teachers throughout the country, thousands of children from Kenya’s marginalized communities have access to education. In Kenya, community schools are established to meet the high demand for education in the highest-need communities.  In fact, many families prefer community schools to public schools. Community schools are closer to family homes, making travel safer, and are also often less crowded, providing more individual support for students and families. Therefore, one powerful way we reach students within marginalized communities is through the low-cost, community secondary schools. 

In this posthumous episode of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown," Bourdain introduces his fellow CNN Original Series host W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America) to the distinctive sights, tastes, and sounds of Kenya.   You will get a glimpse of life in Nairobi and beyond to other parts of Kenya.

It is Bell’s first trip to the African continent, and to a country that holds a personal connection for him. In Nairobi, they talk to locals about the country’s growth and economic challenges, as well as the continual fight for identity and self-definition of Kenyans.  Bourdain and Bell also take a Matatu party bus ride, share a meal of goat’s head soup and visit a boxing academy devoted to teaching young women, and promoting female empowerment. Leaving Nairobi the pair travel to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and visit with a Maasai community actively engaged in conservation.  Through the eyes of Bourdain and Bell, and their first experiences with this highly dynamic deeply, soulful and beautiful country we ask, what will a future Kenya… for Kenyans…. by Kenyans…look like?

Each student at a Big Picture Learning school is part of a small learning community of 15 students called an advisory.

Each advisory is supported and led by an advisor, a teacher that works closely with the group of students and forms personalized relationships with each advisee.

Each student works closely with his or her advisor/teacher to identify interests and personalize learning.

The student as the center of learning truly engages and challenges the student, and makes learning authentic and relevant.

Each student has an internship where he or she works closely with a mentor, learning in a real world setting.

Parents and families are actively involved in the learning process, helping to shape the student’s learning plan and are enrolled as resources to the school community.

The result is a student-centered learning design, where students are actively invested in their learning and are challenged to pursue their interests by a supportive community of educators, professionals, and family members.