The average fees charged by Nairobi-based international schools dropped to Sh902,000 last year amid competition for students from the rising number of learning institutions.
An analysis by the International Schools Database shows that the annual fees dropped from an average Sh1.05 million to Sh902,000 for a six-year old enrolled in Kenyan international schools.
The fees charged however remain nearly double these charged in Cape Town, which average Sh450,000 annually. Kenya's elite schools are riding on the high premium that parents attach on their children's education to charge some of the highest fees in Africa.
"Some names within the 10 cheapest cities may surprise you... a lot. Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi are still some of the least expensive cities for international education, as they were in 2017," reads the report.
The top-notch schools, many of them offering international curricula, charge high fees reflecting the increasing perception of education as a golden ticket to better fortunes among many Kenyans.
The charges make the institutions an exclusive club for wealthy Kenyans and expatriates working for multinationals, missions and non-governmental agencies.
Kenyan parents have increasingly embraced international education to give their children a chance at upward mobility and set them up for admission to top universities abroad. The international institutions have also been some of the top taxpayers in the country.
The Kenya Revenue Authority's (KRA) latest ranking of top taxpayers shows that at least 25 private schools have broken into the special club of institutions that earned more than Sh350 million in annual revenues.
Increased demand for private education has more recently attracted new players, including Nova Pioneer and Sabis International School that is partly owned by Centum Investment Company Plc.
High returns in the industry have also attracted private equity (PE) firms, leading to multi-billion shilling deals. Africinvest, for instance, was among a consortium of investors that sold Brookhouse School to UK-based PE fund Educas for an estimated Sh3.6 billion in 2015.
This was one of the biggest transactions in Kenya's high-end education sector.
South Africa's private education firm Advtech will open a school under its Crawford Schools brand in Kiambu's Tatu City in September.
Crawford fees per year ranges from Sh410,000 at kindergarten to Sh950,000 in year 13, with boarding costing an extra Sh650,000. This is lower than the fee at some of the institutions with an annual cost of Sh2.7 million. Brookhouse has opened a new campus in Runda that sits on 15 acres.