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KEMI was established in April 1981 with funds from the World Bank and the Government of Kenya (GoK). The institute was established based on the recommendations of the National Committee on Education Policies (NCOEP). The purpose of establishing KEMI was to build the capacity of education personnel to enable them deliver education services efficiently and effectively. The Government of Kenya (GoK), development partners and private sector had made a huge investment in education and needed to see returns on this investment. The KEMI capacity building program was built along similar programs such as MANTEP now ADEN in Tanzania (1978) and IADAB in Malaysia (1970). Initially, KEMI relied on the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Manchester for capacity development of KEMI training staff. From 1990, mentors such as the UNESCO/BREDA, UNESCO IIEP and Commonwealth Secretariat helped in the capacity development of KEMI staff trainers. More recently, USAID and VVOB have helped build the capacity of the institute. KEMI was initially located at Kenyatta University. It was relocated to the former Highridge Teachers Training College in Parklands, in 2006

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