Students should not share books in class, CS Matiangi says

Wednesday February 24 2016

Education CS Fred Matiang'i at a primary school in Shimo la Tewa during an impromptu visit on January 7, 2016. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Education CS Fred Matiang'i at a primary school in Shimo la Tewa during an impromptu visit on January 7, 2016. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has directed school heads to end the practice of several pupils sharing a single textbook in class.

Dr Matiang’i said it is unfair for five students to share a single book, adding that the government provides enough money to buy books for each pupil in school.

“The current system used in distributing books in public schools is not working. Schools are not buying books at all,” lamented the Cabinet secretary.

Dr Matiang’i was speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation during the award of four-year foundation scholarships worth Sh4 million to 75 needy children.

He regretted that though the government had provided books to schools for the last three years, the book-to-pupil book ratio is still 1:5.

“We have several issues with books that we need to address. We must be accountable to resources that we are given. I am not happy with the purchase of textbooks in schools at all,” said Dr Matiang’i.

He said he would meet with Kenya Publishers Association and Kenya School Heads Association leaders to agree on how best to handle the issue. He said he would also consult with the National Treasury.

“We do not want racketeering in the ministry at the expense of our children,” said Dr Matiang’i.

SH1,420 FOR LEARNING MATERIALS

The government provides Sh1,420 for learning materials for each pupil in primary schools.

This is the money used to buy textbooks, exercise books and other stationery.

Each secondary school student is allocated Sh3,000 for books and other reading materials annually.

Enrolment at secondary schools rose from 1.9 million in 2012 to 2.3 million this year. For primary schools, it went up from 9.8 million in 2012 to 10.2 million this year.

This financial year, Sh32.9 billion has been set aside to cater for students in secondary schools, while Sh14 billion will support pupils in public primary schools.

This month, the Unesco Global Education Monitoring Report indicated that Kenya could save about Sh6.4 billion annually if it improves the textbook procurement system in public schools.

The report criticises the mode of delivering books to schools in Kenya, saying that using booksellers and middlemen had made books expensive in the country.

BOOKS MORE THAN TWICE EXPENSIVE

It further reveals that textbooks in Kenya are 2.5 times more expensive than those in other Africa countries such as Madagascar.

Recently, the Kenya Publishers Association announced price increases of between four and 10 per cent for textbooks, citing higher book production costs, which they said had gone up by 22 per cent.

The Unesco report also revealed that Kenya is among countries that disburse block grants to schools to cover non-salary expenditures, including textbooks, a system it noted as insufficient and vulnerable to budget cuts.

At the same time, Dr Matiang’i directed school heads to release certificates to former students and warned of dire consequences for those who do not abide.

“We want to know: Between these school heads and President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the leader of this county and government,” said Dr Matiang'i.

He went on: “We release money to schools through capitation. So do not tell us that you need money to pay suppliers. Release the certificate immediately.”