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Helicopter illustration proper for children, publishers say

Thursday October 18 2018

 Lawrence Njagi

Kenya Publishers Association chairman Lawrence Njagi earlier this year. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PETER MBURU
By PETER MBURU
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The Kenya Publishers Association on Thursday came out to defend itself against public condemnation over illustrations in some newly published textbooks that people find inappropriate.

The association, led by its chairman Lawrence Njagi, said the illustrations are suitable for early primary school children but disowned others they claimed were falsely attributed to them.

During a press briefing in Nairobi, Mr Njagi in particular defended an illustration for the Grade Two textbook that depicts a flamboyant MP's visit to a school.  

The caption on the illustration reads: “Teachers and learners are cheering. I saw a helicopter. It was flying low. It was flying just above the trees. ‘Our leader! Our leader!’ we shouted. It was our Member of Parliament. He travels in a plane. It belongs to him. The helicopter landed in our school playground. Three big cars arrived in our compound. They too belonged to him. He came out and greeted us. His wife waved at us. She had golden rings in her hand. He told us if we do well, he will give us a treat. He will lift us up the skies. I will try my best.”

In response to the complaints by Kenyans, Mr Njagi said adults are interpreting this passage the wrong way and thus distorting the intended meaning.

“There is nothing factually wrong with that passage. The passage should be looked at [through] the eyes of the child not [through] the eyes of the politician or us the grown-ups,” he said.

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He said the media blew the passage out of proportion based on perception, rather that the facts.

But he disowned two books that have also been faulted for misleading learners.

In one of the books, a caption says the head is used to carry loads while the other illustration shows a couple in bed.

The publishers claimed the books are not local, but from Ghana and the United States but did not provide any proof. 

“Saying we use our heads to carry loads, I completely concur that that is an unthinkable explanation of the use of an average African head. Our heads are not for carrying loads. We have a lot of uses for our heads. This is not a Kenyan textbook and is not used in our curriculum. This particular textbook comes from Ghana in West Africa. It has nothing to do with our curriculum or publishing houses,” Mr Njagi said.​