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We’ll not back down on textbooks plan, vows CS

Robin Obino @ obinorobin

Government’s plan to supply textbooks to all public schools has been concluded, Education Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i has said. Speaking during the launch of Kenya Literature Bureau’s ISO certification launch at the KLB Centre yesterday, the CS said the government would, starting next year, directly supply the books to schools.

This is an intentional move aimed at ensuring that the funds meant for the purchase of textbooks are properly used. “The State has already disbursed more than Sh300 billion for free primary and secondary school education. All relevant stakeholders are required to account for this money,” he said.

Some of the funds will also be directed to recruitment to ensure a good teacher-student ratio is maintained. And while suppliers have raised concerns about the effects the ministry’s plans will have on their businesses, the minister has defended the deal saying it will ensure a 1:1 student, book ratio.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we will not go back on the new textbook policy. I will be delighted to meet any unhappy person in court,” Matiang’i said adding that the new arrangement will also help address marginalisation problem.

“We are not competing against ourselves. Go to Rwanda, Egypt. See what they are doing. We are competing against the world,” he said. This transformation is also aimed at locking out cartels that conspire with head teachers to distribute textbooks, some of which are not approved by the ministry, at exorbitant rates.

He asked publishers to ensure schools get the books by the time Form One students report to school on January 9. They will each receive six textbooks for each of the six core subjects.

According to Matiang’i, about seven publishers, both government and private will produce the books for core curriculum subjects. Schools were, previously, at liberty to buy books from distributors of their choices using government capitation.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has already developed the curriculum and vetting and approving textbooks for use in schools. At the same time, Matiang’i asked schools to explore other means to hire more teachers to ensure the free secondary school education, set to be rolled out next month, is a success.

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