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Elite private schools are booming in Kenya

LAST year stories appeared in the press, illustrated by pictures of bloody clothing, of an initiation ceremony at Alliance High School outside Nairobi, in which boys were beaten and made to lie on the founders’ graves. The country was shocked, in part because Alliance is regarded as one of the country’s top schools, and the headmaster resigned. The scandal has hastened a shift that is changing Kenyan education.

Alliance, which sits in wooded grounds in Kikuyu, a small town north-west of Nairobi, was founded in 1926 by missionaries to educate bright Africans and, by selecting boys from all the country’s regions and tribes, to build a country. After independence in 1963 it became one of Kenya’s “national” schools, similar to Britain’s selective state “grammar” schools. Eight ministers in the post-independence cabinet in 1963 were Alliance old boys. Alumni still proliferate in the top ranks of the professions, government and business.

On a hilltop 20 miles to the east are the Nova…

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