The schooling in Kenya was long characterized by the British system, but has become more independent in its structure and curricula since the 1980s. However, English is the main language of instruction. The primary school, which is free of charge, is run by the state; it covers eight years and begins at the age of six. The secondary school covers four years and forms the basis for university studies. The attendance at primary school in 2009 was 82%. The proportion that continues in secondary school increased sharply during the 1990s and is now over 50%. The reading and writing skills of the adult population (over 15 years) were estimated in 2009 to be a total of 87%. Kenya has more than twenty universities and colleges, many of them private. In 2010, approximately 17% of the state budget was spent on education.
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Throughout the 1990s, police accounted for 60% of all homicides in the country. This figure grew to 90% in 2001. The same year, tribal disputes broke out over land and water access conflicts – both in the Nairobi area and in the southern part of the country. The burning of villages led to internal refugee flows.
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In February 2002, a law was passed banning the circumcision of girls under the age of 18. Violation entails imprisonment. Circumcision is practiced in half of rural areas and is traditionally considered a means of preventing promiscuity.
In November, a suicide bomb in a car was detonated in front of an Israeli tourist hotel near Mombasa. It cost 10 Kenyans and 3 Israelis their lives. At the same time, an Israeli aircraft that was lightening from Mombasa airport was shot down with a heat-seeking missile. However, this attack failed and the plane landed safely in Tel Aviv, Israel. Al-Qaeda took responsibility for the attacks and announced that new deadly attacks would be directed against Israel and the United States. Vice President Musalia Mudavadi declared that his country had “been transformed into a battleground for the wars of others”.
The December 27, 2002 election was won by the Rainbow Coalition, which had appointed Mwai Kibaki for the presidential post. When almost all constituencies were counted, 71-year-old Kibaki had received 63% of the vote, ending 40 years of KANU rule. His opponent was 42-year-old Uhuru Kenyatta, son of KANU founder Jomo Kenyatta. The Rainbow Coalition consists of 10 parties and several jumpers from KANU. It won 122 constituencies, KANU 52, while the remaining constituencies were won by smaller parties.
After the election victory, Kibaki declared that the fight against corruption that was widespread under KANU will be the most important task for the new government. In January 2003, he set up an anti-corruption commission, which in June formally brought charges against President Moi for fraud. Still, in December, the government provided guarantees of immunity to Moi. The month before, the IMF had given its first loan in 3 years to finance the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
In 2003, the price of coffee dropped to the lowest level ever. Coffee is Kenya’s most important export item, and the crisis therefore hit the country hard. At the International Coffee Conference in London in May, figures from the International Coffee Organization and the World Bank revealed that the crisis was triggered by a decline in US consumption. During the conference, the humanitarian organization OXFAM released a document stating that the crisis “is destroying the living conditions of 25 million coffee workers worldwide”.
The coffee crisis has led to economic ruin for most of the small producers in Kenya. 80% of these are women. President Kibaki, who has a degree from the London School of Economics and whose period runs until December 2007, must deal with the socio-economic consequences of this crisis in a country where unemployment was already 40% before the start of the crisis.
In March 2004, Kibaki presented a new draft constitution, which he had promised already upon his accession. The draft was to be vetoed by parliament and included a restriction on the power of the president and the introduction of a prime ministerial office. In July, a new majority had been obtained for the new constitution, but a few days later, Kibaki announced that the adoption of the constitution had been postponed. This sparked protests in Nairobi and Kisumu. The protesters were attacked by police shooting at several hundred people. In Kisumu, one was killed and at least 10 injured. The events intensified the conflicts in the government and led to several clashes in the capital. Over 100 were arrested during the riots.
In October, environmental and human rights activist Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize. She had devoted much of her life to the fight for environmental issues. In his justification, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that Maathai had been chosen for “its contributions to sustainable development, democracy and peace”. 64-year-old Maathai is the first female African to receive the Peace Prize.
In December, Southeast Asia was hit by a fierce tsunami whose wave reached all the way to Africa, where it also caused the destruction along Kenya’s coast towards the Indian Ocean.
In August 2005, it was announced that Kenya and Uganda will jointly build an oil pipeline to connect the Kenyan city of Eldoret to Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Construction will begin in August 2006 and the pipeline is expected to open in late 2007. The two countries’ governments will invest 49% of the project’s price, while private investors will contribute the remaining 51%.