Ministry’s one-textbook policy kicks up a storm

A new policy that limits schools to buy only one textbook per subject has kicked up a storm.

At the same time, stakeholders have raised the red flag after the Education ministry locked out private publishers from producing books for core curriculum subjects — Mathematics, English and Kiswahili — in lower primary, raising questions about transparency and integrity in textbook publishing and supply.

Publishers, experts and education stakeholders have accused the ministry of creating monopoly in textbook publishing by restricting schools to buy only one textbook.

GUIDELINES

They argue that the move eliminates competition, undermines quality and opens floodgates for unethical practices.

The storm was sparked by this week’s publication of new guidelines for evaluating course books.

The guidelines have been published by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), responsible for developing the curriculum as well as vetting and approving textbooks for use in schools.

PUBLISHERS
KICD and ministry officials met publishers and issued the new guidelines, but the latter rejected them, arguing they breached the law and went against the country’s policy of market liberalisation.

Publishers are asked to prepare manuscripts for select subjects, which are to be presented to KICD for vetting and approval.

But, unlike in the past, only one textbook that scores highly will be recommended for use in schools.

The next best five will be relegated and designated as supplementary course books.
LIBERALISATION
Sources told the Saturday Nation that the ministry had entered into an agreement with Pride/Tusome, a donor-driven project, to publish books for the core subjects, raising questions because those materials are not being subjected to vetting.

“As teachers, we abhor a situation where our education curriculum is determined or influenced by external organisations,” Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary-general Wilson Sossion said earlier.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers secretary-general Akelo Misori faulted the policy, saying it would kill authorship and publishing.

“Education must be seen in the light of liberalisation and creativity,” he said.

Additional reporting by Joseph Ngunjiri

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