Kenya, regarded by many scholars as the cradle of humanity, offers fantastic opportunity for the adventurous spirit. Truly magnificent wildlife parks, unspoilt beaches and coral reefs are in abundance, not to mention a wealth of history in the ancient Swahili cities.
The population is a shade under thirty-two millions, with a landmass of two- hundred and thirty square miles. The language is Swahili and religious observance is divided into thirty-five percent Protestant, thirty percent Roman Catholic, thirty percent Muslim and five percent Animist - so plenty of diversity to be found here.
Kenya has a chronic shortage of secondary school teachers, and this adds up to a great deal of opportunity. English is the language of tuition in schools, and one can expect to teach English and…In other words, employers will be interested in other academic strengths you may have that they can press into service. So think about what you might like to teach in addition to English.
Quite unlike Europe, for those wishing to teach in a state or private school, there is not the requirement for a PGCE. For some of the state school jobs you may need an undergraduate degree and you will also need a TESOL qualification.
Language institutes are few and far between, but worth checking out. In the public sector one can expect large classes, with students of a varying degrees of ability and also various ages within the same class. Also things can be a shade primitive: In some instances one can expect literally to be living in one mud hut, and teaching in another.
Hence, an attraction to the ‘quaint’ is an asset, and the desire for a life experience. Wages are relatively low, conditions sometimes primitive, but people come to Kenya for the experience of a lifetime, and are seldom disappointed.
Visas and Regulations
All non-Kenyan citizens wishing to work - paid or unpaid - must be in possession of a work permit, issued by the Principal Immigration Officer, Department of Immigration, PO Box 30191, Nairobi. It is best, in general, if schools apply for work permits for teachers before they enter the country. Proof of professional qualifications, references and CVs or resumes should be prepared and one should be ready to make them available.
With all this said, once one is off the beaten track, it is not the case that visa regulations are strictly enforced. One should be mindful of what one’s tourist visa entitlements are, and consider how practical it is to renew one’s visa through cross-border trips.
Nairobi, as well as being Kenya’s capital, is the largest city between Cairo and Johannesburg. It’s lively, cosmopolitan and has beautiful lanscapes. It also boasts a considerable amount of colonial history and has an air of past empire about it.
Cities aside, for most people the game parks, mountain ranges, virgin tropical rain forest, and beautiful reefs are what the country is synonymous with. Hence, one should come prepared to make the most of the great bounty offered by the outdoors of Africa at its best.
Getting a Job
A modicum of preparation prior to setting out will pay dividends. Think of not one country, but the continent of Africa. You may come to value mobility once you hit this part of the world. Hence, it is a very good idea to contact all of the African embassies in your country of origin, enquiring about teaching and visas, and see what you get back. You will find that you have a nice big file folder of leads and information, but will vary from country of origin to country of origin, African embassy to African embassy.
For many, getting a job will mean knocking on doors - hence, the need for those certificates, etc. Local telephone directories detail universities, schools and language institutes, etc, which are often only too willing to interview candidates. Highly-qualified, and more importantly, well-turned-out, organised and enthusiastic teachers are in short supply. If they like you they will most certainly find some teaching for you!
Hence, one of the best and most realistic propositions is to build a working life based around constructing a portfolio a few hours here and a few hours there, bearing mind that revenue from ‘privates’ can double a teacher’s income, one should always be on the lookout for private students, whatever one’s employment or visa status. The market for those wanting private tuition or conversation practice is huge, and potentially very lucrative, therefore, not be neglected. Give yourself time to build a portfolio of work. This is best safeguard to both your income, and employment status.