Sh30 billion worth of remittances are used to support education in Kenya

New WorldRemit research finds that diaspora remittances used to support education reduce by more than half the chances of children being out of school  

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Mwikali who left Kenya for the U.K. in 2005 and found work as a nanny, relies on remittances to educate her daughter.

New research from the digital money transfer service WorldRemit shows thousands of Kenyan children are in school, have access to books and educational supplies, and are more likely to study than work due to international remittances.

Kenya is the largest remittance-receiving country in East Africa, where annual remittances now exceed $2.1 billion. WorldRemit research reveals that this rise in remittances has wide-ranging benefits to children’s education in the country, amounting to $300 million (Sh30 billion) extra support for education.

The findings were calculated using data from UNESCO, the World Bank, and Kenya’s latest national household survey. Approximately 220 million children are not in school in low- and middle-income countries. Of these, 1.5 million live in Kenya — almost 10% of the population of school-age children.

Key findings in Kenya include:

  • Remittances more than halve the chance of Kenyan children being out of school
  • An estimated 14% of Kenyan remittances are used to support education
  • Remittance-receiving households spend more on education — equivalent to the cost of a year of school supplies
  • Secondary school children in Kenyan remittance-receiving households spend less time working on non-school activities, freeing up more time for school studies

WorldRemit also calculates that globally, if traditional, cash-based money transfers were replaced by lower-cost digital alternatives, there could be an additional $825 million unlocked for families to spend on children’s education. Savings from “going digital” could pay for the equivalent of 20 million school uniforms, 30 million school books and 16 million sets of school supplies for children in low- and middle-income countries.

“As millions of children in Kenya start a new school year, our research is a timely reminder that the contributions of the diaspora are vital to the education of 9,000 children across the country. Switching to digital remittances would help maximise that even further. With global remittances predicted to rise in 2019, even more children are set to benefit,” said Sharon Kinyanjui, head of East & Central Africa at WorldRemit. 

WorldRemit is one of the leading digital money transfer companies for the Kenyan diaspora. Customer surveys reveal that education is one of the top priorities for Kenyans living abroad, with many saying they support the schooling of children back home.

WorldRemit customers complete 1.3 million transfers every month from over 50 countries to over 145 destinations. More than half of its transfers go to Africa.