A vigorous campaign by headteachers highlighting the gaps in the current directive to schools on delivery of textbooks saw the government yield to pressure to return the billions back to the hands of school managers.
Finer details reveal that school heads leveraged on the shortfalls of the new government policy to push for the collapse of the 2017 directive by former Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.
The heads raised concern on oversupply of textbooks, lack of storage facilities, mismatch in students’ numbers and errors in books to drive the campaign that pushed the Ministry of Education to back down. Booksellers and some MPs were also drawn into the spirited campaign that has now paid off.
The details of the textbooks billions battle were laid bare this week when Kenya Primary Heads Association (Kepsha) and the Kenya Secondary Heads Association (Kessha) officials appeared before the National Assembly Education Committee.
Tinderet MP Julius Melly chaired the meeting. The Ministry of Education has now announced a stop to mass supply of textbooks, saying the money will be used to construct and equip schools facilities.
Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang said each learner will only be issued with textbooks for their current class, contrary to the earlier practice where they moved with books of previous class to the next.
Books have been supplied to Grade 1 to Grade 3 and Standard Seven and Standard Eight. In secondary schools, the government supplied textbooks to students in Form One to Form Four. Appearing before the MPs, Kessha chairman Kahi Indimuli lifted the lid with revelations that none of the candidate classes had received any copy.
“We are worried about how the candidates will pass examinations because even now if the books are released they may not make good use of them because examinations are near,” said Indimuli.
He tabled a Kessha report that listed 14 gaps occasioned by the government strategy, among them late delivery, defective books, unsupplied course books and learning materials not aligned to the syllabus.
The report said some textbooks have low quality cover pages that reduced the three-year shelf life to only one.