One of the largest and most populated countries on the continent of Africa, Kenya is a majorly influential political, economic, and cultural power in the East African region. It is also widely known for its vast diversity of wildlife and natural landscapes amid the scenic backdrop of the African Great Lakes. International educators from all over the world can have an immensely rewarding experience while they teach abroad in Kenya, immersing themselves within an at-once challenging and enriching academic atmosphere.
Kenya is located on the eastern coastline of Africa, featuring expansive beaches along the Indian Ocean and bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia to the south, west, and north. Roughly 45 million people live in Kenya, making it the seventh most populous country on the continent.
Nairobi, the country’s capital and largest city, is perennially one of the most popular destinations where to teach abroad in Kenya. Home to a metropolitan population of over 6.5 million people, an array of global organizations, and a major headquarters for the UN, Nairobi has for long been one of the largest and most influential cities in all of Africa.
Mombasa, the second largest city in the country, is another common destination where to teach abroad in Kenya. A coastal city with one of the largest ports in Africa, Mombasa is a very popular travel destination because of its sprawling beaches, lively atmosphere, and rich history as an important center of African commerce and culture.
Other potential destinations where you might look to teach abroad in Kenya include smaller cities such as Nakuru and Eldoret. Many educators also seek out positions teaching in Kenya’s rural areas, where schools are often understaffed and resources less accessible. Teaching abroad in a Kenyan village will understandably be much different from city life, and both carry the potential to be life-changing experiences!
Teaching Jobs in Kenya
There are some 70 languages spoken among the Kenyan population, the major two of which are English and Swahili. While English is the national language of education in Kenya, Swahili is the more commonly spoken native language among the uneducated population (i.e. young children or adult learners), so there is still a fairly large market for teaching English as a second language. Generally you will expect to possess a TEFL or TESOL certification in order to be considered for one of these positions.
International educators can look for either paid or volunteer positions to teach abroad in Kenya. The former tend to be available in major cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa where there are a considerable amount of international and private schools which look to hire from overseas, while the latter are more common in rural areas which lack the resources to pay foreign teachers.
In any case, because English is traditionally the medium of education in Kenya, international educators can also benefit from the option to branch out past ESL positions to teach other subjects such as science and math. You will generally be expected to hold a relevant university degree in order to teach abroad in Kenya, and having prior classroom experience will greatly enhance your appeal as a candidate as well.
Salaries & Costs
Because it is still developing, Kenya remains a fairly affordable destination for many international educators. In a paid position you will generally earn a salary or stipend which covers your basic costs of living, along a little spending money. Some volunteer positions will alternatively offer to provide for your housing and meals as well. The local currency in Kenya is Kenyan shilling, which trades at about 100 KES to $1 USD.
Accommodation & Visas
Available accommodations while you teach abroad in Kenya will also differ markedly between urban and rural settings. Living in a city, most international teachers choose to find their own apartment, or else look to rent out a single room in a flat. In rural areas, group living situations and homestays are the more common options.
Kenya uses an eVisa system for teachers coming from most countries around the world. Your teach abroad organization or host employers will usually walk you through the process of obtaining the proper documentation, but in the meantime you can check out our Kenyan Embassy Directory for more information regarding your individual situation.
Benefits & Challenges
Push Yourself. Whether or not your ultimate career ambitions lay in education, taking the journey to teach abroad in Kenya will prove an incredible growth experience, as you dive headfirst into a challenging new cultural context in a major East African country.
Adventure Travel. On top of the everyday adventure of teaching in a new country, you should also take the time to explore the natural beauty of Kenya, which extends from the African Great Lakes to Mount Kenya to the Indian Ocean and everywhere in between.
Learn by Teaching. While you will be a teacher by trade while in Kenya, odds are that you will learn more from the experience than you could ever compartmentalize in a classroom setting. Go out and live life!