May 28, 2022
File photo of the aerial view of Banda school
  • A foreign tycoon is credited with the establishment of an international school in Nairobi within the tranquil suburb of Karen.

    The school was established by Jim Chitty who convinced his wife to buy into the idea of letting go of their affluent hotel in the city opposite Nairobi National Park.

    The tycoon converted his Banda Hotel to Banda School so that he could cater for the needs of British parents who had no intention of sending their students to boarding schools in the United Kingdom.

    Before fully converting the magnificent hotel into Banda School, Jim and his wife modified some of the rooms into classes, laboratories, and other school facilities. 

    File photo of the aerial view of Banda school in Nairobi

    Before relocating to Nairobi, the tycoon had started Kaptagat Preparatory School in Eldoret which only had 1956 students. However, in 1966, the Dutch government offered to purchase the school’s property and others around it to build a farmer’s training centre.

    Jim and his wife moved to Nairobi and established the Banda Hotel after acquiring the land from British Army in 1942. The Hotel embraced the Kenyan culture with some of its rooms built with mud and wattle and roofed with makuti.

    “It was not uncommon to see giraffes grazing off the bushes near the pepper tree, families of warthogs taking their evening stroll, and lions gazing curiously where children now wait for the bus,” Jim stated.

    Right now, Banda is among the most prestigious institutions in the country and one of the largest Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) schools in the world outside the UK.

    The school is currently under the leadership of Ali Francombe, the school headmistress. She previously served as a History teacher prior to advancing into management.

    “From our high academic standards and continued sporting excellence to our extensive array of co and extracurricular programmes, our dedicated and progressive teaching staff remain keen to draw the very best from all of the boys and girls in its care,” Francombe stated in her part of the welcome message to their community.

    Students at the school exhibit mutual respect and also a shared sense of desire and fun. It does not teach Kenya’s Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) but the British Education system.

    The school also offers a number of exciting extra curriculum activities including swimming, ballet dance, tennis, music, football among others.

    It also allows students to travel to different destinations including South Africa, China, Japan among other nations.

    In June 2012, it made headlines after a helicopter that was flying students to the school made an emergency landing in Mathira in Nyeri County. The pilot was said to have encountered bad weather.

    A helicopter that made an emergency landing while taking students to Banda school in June 2012
    A helicopter that made an emergency landing while taking students to Banda school in June 2012

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