Kenyan Techies: Secondary School Survey

[Update: I’ve decided to keep the survey running for a little longer to get the late comers. If enough fill it out, I’ll republish the results.]

Out of curiosity I put out a survey to the Kenyan tech community 2 days ago. I’ve always wondered which schools in Kenya put out the most people who move into positions within tech companies, or start their own. I now have 200 entries, which is a decent enough size sample, though I know if we did a true canvasing of the entire community that the results would be slightly different.

[2010 Kenya Techies School Survey]

Here are the results

The top schools
Kenyan technologists - schools attended

Starehe Boys’ (20) leads by a large margin, followed by the other big private schools; Strathmore (9), Lenana (8), Nairobi School (8), Alliance (7) and St. Mary’s (6). It’s clear that some schools choose quality over quantity, such as my alma mater Rift Valley Academy (2)… :)

There are a plenty of examples, such as Gitwe (1), which had only one graduate that come from all over the country. Clearly, many techies here in Kenya had to fight their way up from a challenging environment.

Year Graduated
I started this off in 1980 and went to 2009. There’s an interesting curve happening within the community on when people cleared school. The highest is the year 2000 (25). I wonder if there was something that happened in the school systems at this time to make the number go up, or if there is some other reason for that bump in 2000-2002.

Kenyan Technologists - year finished secondary school

Companies you work for
I was amazed at the number and spread of technologists across the tech companies in Kenya. Here is just a small sampling of 127 different companies that were listed of who people work for:

Access Kenya
AFRICOM
Cellulant
Craft Silicon
Dotsavvy
Google
IBM
Kencall
Mobile Planet
Mocality
Nokia
Safaricom
The Standard
UN (different groups)
Virtual City
Wananchi Group

25 thoughts on “Kenyan Techies: Secondary School Survey

  1. The year 2000 was the first time that Computer was examined as a subject in KCSE. The introduction of computer as a subject was done in 1997, in most secondary schools in Kenya

  2. I think the survey is representatives; I have gone to dinner meetings for techies and when they start talking about schools they went to, I wonder how to chip in and say what we did at Gathungururu secondary and they may ask where that is…

  3. Thank you for putting this together Erik – its been much needed. It’s good to see such a good number of schools represented – makes me proud. Of course I’m happy to see Nairobi School well represented, even though I’m almost sure you added +5 on Lenana to make it seem like an equal contest.

  4. @David K – To be honest, I was shocked that there were that many Nairobi School chaps, I thought they all went into the miraa and chang’aa trades…! hehe.

  5. No surprises that Starehe has the largest number from this sample, being one of the first schools where students learnt programming in their free time, at a time when the formal course was not being done (think a C++ programming course during one of the holidays in 2nd form).

    It would be interesting to see how this changes over the years…

    was in Starehe myself :)

    • @mmnjug and @nguru – if I ran this survey longer, and everyone pushed it out to all their networks, we might come back with some different data. I’m keeping the survey live if you want to get more people involved.

  6. Very very good survey this is. I must say. I think it is one of the most informative on the industry to be carried out by an individual.

    It makes sense that a lot of Nairobi schools top this list coz i dropped Computer Science in High Sch only to pick from where I’d stopped later in college. My reason for dropping was ill-equipped computer labs!

    Thanks WAfrican for the survey.

  7. The Bandit says:

    Very good survey. It would be good to have a look at what these top schools have done different from others.
    @Hash -I’m with you on the Nairobi School one!

    So Strathmore comes second to Starehe – All hail the power of Strathmore School! I’m sure those 6 Saint Mary’s guys were Strath guys who studied IB st Saint Mary’s.

  8. cnongera says:

    I agree with you Becky…Just saw that I’m the only one from my high school in IT, but then again we are many from Nakuru eh ?

  9. For those who were in Class of 2000 at Starehe, and went on to Form 5 and 6 we did get to stay late into the night so as to catch clear lines on the schools dial-up connection. Many started off with desktop applications with quite a number selling their projects soonest they were out of school.
    Memories…

  10. Interesting Erik. Reminds me of reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Outliers” – when looking at the year 2000. It was a significant point in Kenya’s tech space. When you we’re born and what happened then may be the very reason why we are where we are today in tech.

  11. Erik, I think this should be kept running for a while, then more changerians of 2000 like me can add themselves!

    I also think it can be a clear indicator of Africa’s Tech billionaires in the next decade or two.

  12. I suspect 2000 could be attributable to the Y2K thing and the consciousness thereafter. But I also suspect the group responding to the survey are actually the main people more active in the tech sector. Assuming someone was finishing high school in 2000 and by 2004 they were finishing college it figures they would be in the prime of their careers. That would be my guess.

  13. TheB says:

    Hey Erik,
    I like this. I think you should run one for how much techies earn in Kenya.

    I was just looking through some job postings and was shocked at the kind of salaries being offered to techies. I find that most people rarely (if ever) share info on how much they earn, which usually ends up working against them. I think this will be very enlightening by making people aware of whether they are being fleeced by their employers.

  14. Strathmore rocked we had great teachers and freedom to do what we wanted in the labs. I remember geniouses like Brian Muita and Edwin Kiaraho who did things that hooked us on tech and i have never looked back.

  15. Patrick says:

    Interesting findings you have.
    I think the spike is also contributed by the CFSK foundation (Computers For Schools Kenya) which equipped some of the said schools eg Patch and Changes with computers and other hardware and software, the projects started in early 2000.
    Just show how a little corporate contribution such as donating computers helps spur tech in this country.
    Oh and Patch and Changes tie… thats interesting :)

  16. I told you! Changerians would rock! Joe Mucheru and Paul Kukubo + Musau are just an example. By the time the survey is over, we will be on top. And you are right, Patcherians are just miraa chewers. lol

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