First Advisor

Charles R. White

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Urban planning, Area planning & development, Unemployment -- Kenya -- Nairobi, Education and state -- Kenya, Kenya -- Economic policy



Physical Description

iii, xii, 269 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


This dissertation examines the attempts by the government of Kenya to develop and implement policies directed toward the problem of urban unemployment. Specifically, this study focuses upon two policy areas directly related to the problem of urban unemployment: education and economic growth. Central to the urban unemployment problem is a potential conflict arising out of a rapidly growing number of school graduates on the one hand, and on the other, the limited opportunities for a sufficient level of employment for this segment of the labor force. An additional element of this study is an examination of the possible consequences of Kenya's external dependency upon the linkages between education, economic growth, and employment opportunities. A consistent theme contained in the development literature is that accelerated development in Third World nations such as Kenya depends upon enlarging the supply of educated and trained manpower. Without such manpower, it is argued, development leadership would be woefully lacking and economic growth would be retarded. On the basis of these assumptions, Kenya, like many other developing countries, has focused its attention on the rapid quantitative expansion of school enrollments from primary school to the university. In recent years, however, the idea that conventional educational expansion is an unmitigated social good and an engine for development has been challenged by the emergence of graduate unemployment. The dynamic rate of economic growth and a forceful campaign of Kenyanization have proven impossible to create sufficient employment to meet the now growing numbers of Kenyan students who feel themselves qualified. In an attempt to resolve this problem, government policies have been directed toward improving the different components of the school system: examinations, curriculum reform, and vocational and technical education. However, the impact of these educational strategies in solving the unemployment problem has been extremely limited by the restricted market for technical and vocational skills in the country. The result of this study suggests that the roots of the unemployment problem are in the structure of the society, and particularly in the failure of the Kenyan economy to industrialize and modernize at a rate that absorbs the labor force. These economic problems are traded to Kenya's continued dependency on external economic assistance, which reduces its ability to determine the course of national development independently. This economic problem is of such a magnitude, it can only be solved by structural adjustments, both internally and externally. The findings of this study confirm the dependency argument.


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Portland State University. School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Persistent Identifier