Elite Nairobi schools top African chart of tuition fees charged

Hillcrest Secondary School students during theatre rehearsals. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Hillcrest Secondary School students during theatre rehearsals: Top-notch schools in Nairobi charge up to Sh2.7 million per year. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Kenya’s elite schools are riding on the high premium that parents have put on their children’s education to charge some of the highest fees in Africa, according to a newly released report.

The top-notch schools, many of them offering international curricula, charge up to Sh2.7 million per year, reflecting the increasing perception of education as a golden ticket to better fortunes among the Kenyan population.

The International Schools Database survey puts the cost of educating a child below 10 years in Nairobi’s top private schools at $10,500 (Sh1 million) a year on average or $875 a month.

Nairobi’s sky-high fees stand above the average annual fees in the more advanced metropolis like Amsterdam ($5,940), Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Abu Dhabi and South Africa’s Cape Town — whose fees are nearly a third of what the Kenyan schools charge.

“The survey suggests that the high price is in part due to high-quality education and costs,” said Andrea Robledillo of the International Schools Database.


ISK fees highest

Top on the list of Nairobi’s exclusive schools is the International School of Kenya (ISK), which charges parents Sh2.7 million a year per child, according to the survey.

The charges make the institution an exclusive club for wealthy Kenyans and expatriates working for multinationals, missions and non-governmental agencies.

The ISK boasts expansive compounds, modern libraries and laboratories, quality meals and a wide range of facilities for sporting and extra-curricular activities.

The school, which is owned by the American Embassy and the Canadian High Commission, offers the American curriculum.

Nairobi’s Rossyln Academy comes in second, charging Sh1.5 million a year, tying with the Banda School and Kenton Preparatory School.

Hillcrest, which charges Sh1.4 million a year per child, is placed third.

The survey was conducted in cities with more than seven international schools and only captures tuition fees, leaving out additional charges.

Kenyan parents have increasingly embraced international education to give their children a chance at upward mobility and set them up for admissions to top universities abroad.

Brookhouse International School in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | ZACHARIA CHILISWA

Brookhouse International School in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | ZACHARIA CHILISWA

Holistic learning

“The elite schools offer holistic learning that captures crucial aspects such as leadership skills, critical thinking and problem solving, all of which are essential in today’s job market and innovation space,” said Bitange Ndemo, an associate professor at the University of Nairobi’s School of Business.

Most multinationals and diplomatic agencies cover the education expenses of their foreign workers as part of allowances, easing the expats’ burden.

The survey serves as a guide for expatriates looking to move with their families to different work stations in the world.

Nairobi’s high fees could help multinationals, United Nations agencies and diplomatic missions to justify the huge staff budgets for employees stationed in the city.

The benefits of premium education continue to be recorded in the flow of Kenyan students to top global learning universities. Kenya this year cemented its position as the top African country with the largest number of students admitted yearly to the prestigious Yale University in the United States.

Data from the university indicates that 24 Kenyan students were admitted to study at the institution this year, ahead of Nigeria’s 23, Zimbabwe (18), Ghana (17) and South Africa (16).

Kenya’s admissions to Yale comprise 17 undergraduates and seven graduates also placed the country in position 16 in the world in terms of admission to Yale.

Degrees from such ivy league universities are seen as a ticket to securing top jobs in the global market.

The newly released report shows international schools in Denmark’s Copenhagen charge some the lowest rates at Sh426,420 a year ($4,140), or about half Nairobi’s fees because of government subsidies.

“International education is so affordable in a not-so-cheap nation like Denmark, because government-approved private schools, including international schools, often receive the same amount of government funding as public ones,” the survey says.

China’s Shanghai is the most expensive city in terms of international school fees that averages Sh3.4 million ($33,396) a year or $2,783 a month.

Other top fees-charging schools in the Kenyan capital are GEMS Cambridge (Sh1.4 million a year), Brookhouse (Sh1.4 million) and Braeburn at Sh1.3 million.

“To calculate the price of international schools, we used the whole price of a full term for a six-year-old child, excluding one-time fees like enrolment fee and application fee,” the survey says.

“The average used is the median price of all the international schools available for a six-year-old child in each city.”