Teaching in Kenya on the coast

Kenya (K2) | View map
£193 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
1 month

Volunteer teaching in Kenya on the coast of Africa

  • Volunteer providing teaching assistance in two primary school settings in Africa
  • A chance to combine two experiences in one, working in an orphanage school and a developing project school
  • Great for gap year students and those wanting to build experience in teaching
  • A wonderful setting on the Indian ocean
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Project summary

There are two opportunities for teaching in our coastal projects. Volunteers can either focus on one, or if you  are volunteering for over a month then take a turn at both, for two very diferent experiences.

The first teaching placement is a small, bright and ‘attractive’ orphanage that has developed a community primary school for the younger residents and for children from the wider community.

It is a relatively small orphanage offering shelter to 42 children (2016), roughly 50% girls/boys. The older children go out to external schools, while the younger ones join with children from the community in a colourful learning environment for some 50-60 children, of which c.30 are in their early years. It is arranged in one large square, well kept and surrounded by beautiful flowers. It has a small, intimate feel.

The school provides the opportunity for volunteers to act in a teacher support, or teacher role for the large number of younger ones.

The second teaching opportunity is a young school project that caters for some of the poorest children. Still in its infancy it does not have enough registered teachers, buildings or resources but is making determined progress teaching c. 60-70 children in small class sizes, from early learners to KG 7 (an educational grade that is irrespective of age, but is typically attained around age 12-14).

The school is partially funded by local charity groups and consists of two blocks of wooden and corrugated makeshift classrooms that can barely be recognised as a school. Yet the teachers they have are proficient and the children polite, respectful and eager to learn, albeit suffering from a lack of funds themselves reflected in their clothes and diet.

Volunteers act as a teaching assistant or teacher to small class sizes, teaching elementary subjects led by text books.

Both schools are in close proximity and a volunteer staying for a number of months could share their time between the two school projects, getting two different but engaging experiences.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

Depending on which school you go to and how confident you are feeling, you might start as a teaching assistant, supporting a local teacher and providing help to those children who are struggling to keep up with lessons. When both you and the teacher are confident you are ready, you may be invited to lead a class in English, maths, social studies or science and help widen the experience of the children. If you are given your own class you will be shadowed initially but expect only basic guidance and support.

Providing practice with a native English speaker is a welcome benefit of volunteers, as it helps accelerate their spoken English. Tribal languages are widely spoken but English is the language for education and is therefore important. You can provide this support both formally in lessons and informally outside the classroom.

Volunteers are a crucial resource for developing extra-curricular activities, such as sport, drama, art, music or dance, although volunteers must recognise the lack of resources and therefore help bridge this gap and/or design their activities appropriately.

How you can make a difference

The activities and interest of volunteers helps in a number of ways. You enhance the children’s learning by supporting and leading classes and offering 121 support where appropriate.

Volunteers give the children confidence through their engagement and encouragement, in particular through extra-curricular activities. Few people have discretionary time to give these children – creating games, clubs and organising sports will both broaden their interests and help discover talents in them and you.

What is distinctive about this project:

Both schools provide an intimate setting that enables volunteers to quickly get engaged in small class sizes. Having two projects enables volunteers to get double the experience.

The town setting by the Indian ocean offers a real charm to the project and a benefit to volunteers in their time off.

Blue Tiger Features:

Both of these schools are small scale, helping you get more readily involved but also relying on you adopting an independent and proactive approach. The children come from poor backgrounds and the schools only have basic conditions and resources, which some volunteers may find emotionally draining, while others will find it a source of inspiration.

It is a long school day in Kenya and the orphanage school provides no shortage of opportunity to get involved with the children.


The school holidays are April, August and from mid-November, although the orphanages are still open at this time, so there is work to be done during these periods.


Kiswahili is a fun and easy language to get the basics of, which you should do as a matter of courtesy, but English is widely used throughout the school and area.

Experience required:

Experience working with or supporting younger children in any capacity is helpful. Volunteers need to be confident and assertive with the children in order to lead classes.

Teaching experience is desirable, but volunteers are able to learn basic teaching structures as part of their preparation to their placement.

Good to know:

Watamu is a great place for your own recreation. There are miles of beautiful beaches with safe swimming and the coral reef is rich in marine fauna and flora, offering excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities.  The volunteer’s accommodation is in a private compound that maintains the high level of security expected of the more affluent areas.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food*, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations
NOTE: Lessons in Swahili can be arranged at an extra cost.
*Volunteers in Watamu are provided with a food budget for volunteers to purchase food but cook on a self-catering basis

Things to see and do

  • Go safari
  • Mount Kenya
  • Elephant Orphanage
  • Giraffe Sanctuary
Wanjiru Macharia (Shiru)

Country co-ordinator

Wanjiru Macharia (Shiru)

Shiru graduated from the University of Amherst, USA with a Major in Marketing and a Minor in Psychology. She joined our team in 2012 and lives with her family near where our projects are based in the coastal town of Watamu. She knows Kenya intimately and has been involved in a number of conservation initiatives in the national parks. In addition to supporting our volunteers she works as an administrator in a busy office that share the grounds of our volunteer house.

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