Knowledge Empowering Youth (KEY) is a Canadian registered charity. We are the first turnkey public school library program in Kenya, dedicated to giving every school-aged child access to books.

In six years, has provided 27 pilot libraries, many of which have received international and national recognition. Our school libraries are spread across five of Kenya’s eight major regional blocs provinces in Kenya (Nairobi, Rift Valley, Eastern, North-Eastern, Coast). We have also replicated our turnkey model in a Tanzanian village adjacent to Barrick Gold Corp’s Buzwagi mine.

We are working in partnership with the Kenya Law Reform Commission, Kenya Library Association, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, The Goethe Institute and other NGOs. Together, we are building a national framework, a policy document, and a road map to build 38,922 more libraries in Kenya.

our values

  • Self-leadership
  • Knowledge
  • Excellence
  • Openness
  • Respect

Our Approach

KEY’s turnkey model is a result of our field research and evaluation. Our libraries are governed and managed by the students, in partnership with librarians and/or teachers. They are taught to cover, label and catalogue the books, as well as lead an outreach-mentoring program in the community. Once the library is up and running, we will provide regular monitoring and assessment services.


    Our primary goal is to help students acquire meaningful levels of literacy that will form a critical building block in their future. This means giving every student access to a library filled with inspiring and educational books.If a school also has the capacity to support online technology, we additionally take the necessary steps to provide computers and tablets. We also provide training in basic research and technology skills, as well as stress the importance of IT in teaching, learning and applications in day-to-day life.


    We provide a system that helps students, teachers and the community become long-term stewards of their library. Our standard package includes: A rules handbook, a trackable book checkout system, a book labelling system, a governance constitution document, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and a wide range of student-centric and values-driven leadership posters.


    Our students govern and manage their library. They are educated about their constitution, their rights, and read from a wide variety of more than 2,000 specially selected books. These cover regional, national and international issues in current affairs, politics, history, science, culture, religion, business and economics. We also ensure that up to 50% of titles are Africa-centric.


KEY’s mission is to drive meaningful change in Kenya’s educational system by providing fully functioning school libraries in Kenya.

  1. Access for all

    Our vision is that every school-aged child has access to the resources of a library because it is key to a child’s progress and potential, regardless of the child’s background.
  2. Foster engaged students

    We promote the use of the library as a place to practice constitutional and democratic rights. We encourage its use as a forum for student activism, freedom of expression, and personal development.
  3. Align with Kenyan objectives

    We ensure that our measures are compatible with national interests and align with the general objectives of Kenya’s Primary and Secondary Education Syllabus, its 2010 Constitution and Vision 2030 development program.


KEY’s library program is results oriented. We look to the best practices of successful education programs from around the world to hone our methods and use our resources as effectively as possible. Always an ongoing process, we also monitor relevant journals, news outlets and professional opinions for the latest developments and findings in our field. While this information does not necessarily shift our policies or program development, it does help in refining the KEY strategy and approach.

Additional Research