Skills for Prosperity Kenya

Skills for Prosperity Kenya (SFPK)


To strengthen public university and government digital online education capacity and inclusivity, in Kenya.


Skills for Prosperity Kenya, is a 30 month, UK Government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) funded programme to help increase capacity for inclusive economic growth in Kenya due to more productive and equitable skills sectors improving employability, employment opportunities and the earning potential of beneficiaries.  The programme consortium includes the OU, the International Labour Organisation and is led by Leonard Cheshire.

The programme overall aims to:

  1. Strengthen education and industry links
  2. Develop an enabling environment for a strong skills ecosystem
  3. Improve access to Higher Education (HE) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for marginalized and unemployed youth

More Kenyans than ever are studying at University. Since 2008 the higher education (HE) sector in Kenya has expanded rapidly to 74 universities. By 2018, enrolment had more than doubled to 538,820 (CUE, 2019), with a 11.46% Gross Enrolment Ratio (UNESCO, 2020), including a 58:42 ratio of Men and Women enrolling in HE, a gender ratio gap which is slowly narrowing. According to the World Bank Report, Improving Higher Education Performance in Kenya (2019), this is slightly higher than the regional average of 9.3 percent but much lower than the upper-middle-income economies that Kenya aspires to emulate.

Enhancing and scaling quality Online Distance Learning (ODL) as a means of improving access to HE and developing a skilled workforce, is a priority for the Kenyan government.

Many Universities in Kenya have made significant steps towards setting up ODL departments and increasing the number of ODL degrees on offer. Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic required many institutions to shift their teaching to remote or distance modes, accelerating the use of ODL in some form.

As part of the SFPK programme the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and International Development office (IDO) are leading the implementation of two key programme areas:

  • Providing technical assistance in the form of expertise and advisory support to the Government of Kenya’s Ministry of Education, to develop a National Universities Digital Online Learning (NUDOL) programme and plan (programme sub-output 3.1); and
  • Strengthening existing digital online education capacity and inclusivity, through training for 37 select Public Universities (programme sub-output 3.5).

The role of IET

Drawing on institutional knowledge and expertise of providing quality, open and distance learning opportunities, at scale, the OU is providing technical assistance in the form of advisory support and training to support the acceleration of ODL capacity building and quality improvement in Kenya.    IET Director Prof. Denise Whitelock is the PI leading this innovative research programme of technical assistance in the form of advisory support to the Government of Kenya and training for 320 staff at 37 public universities.

IET experts, led by Dr Fereshte Goshtasbpour are implementing the capacity building programme, working with Prof. Rebecca Ferguson, Dr Beck Pitt and Dr Simon Cross to develop the capacity strengthening response plans, training content and assessment and evaluation to help strengthen existing digital online education capacity and inclusivity, across the 37 selected public universities.

Technical assistance advisory support to develop the National Universities Digital Online Learning programme and plan is led by Andrew Law, Director of Innovations (BDU), drawing together experience and expertise from across IET and the wider OU. Andrew Law also advises on the development of the SFPK programme training portal and effective use of OU platforms.

The project is managed by Olivier Biard (IDO), Senior Project Manager, drawing on international development and project management capabilities and expertise in the International Development Office (IDO), ensuring project planning, implementation, compliance and accountability to partners and funder.


  • UK Government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)


  • Government of Kenya, Ministry of Education
  • Leonard Cheshire
  • International Labour Organisation