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 thirteen years, KEY has provided 35 libraries, many of which have received international and national recognition. Our school libraries are spread across Kenya’s major regional blocs. We successfully replicated our turnkey model in a Tanzanian school managed by the Barrick Gold Corp’s Buzwagi mine.

our values

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

Legislative Goals

In 2018 we worked in partnership with the Kenya Law Reform Commission, Kenya Library Association, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, The Goethe Institute and NGOs in education. Together, we drafted Kenya’s first National Policy and Guidelines Framework for School Libraries as a road map for building and monitoring 30,922 more libraries in Kenya.

Our approach

KEY’s turnkey model is a result of our extensive field research, evaluation and understanding of the interests, attributes and needs of different communities.

Our model is sustainable. We provide a system, a process and documentation to help engage children, teachers and the community in the long-term stewardship of their library and its effective and sustainable use. After that, we stay in touch to follow the library’s general use, borrowings, its impact on teaching quality and students, their test scores, and their community.

Our students are empowered by our Library Constitution. Our libraries are governed and managed by a library council made up of students, a teacher and parent representative. The Library Constitution integrates democratic values and rights and choice in the use, governance and management of the library.


    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 good governance, 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