alexa Longhorn Publishers recalls textbook over controversial content - Daily Nation

Longhorn Publishers recalls textbook over controversial content

Friday February 14 2020

Maxwell Wahome

Longhorn Publishers chief executive Maxwell Wahome. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

CLAIRE WASILWA
By CLAIRE WASILWA
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OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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Longhorn Publishers has recalled a Grade Two textbook from the market after parents raised concerns over controversial content that appear to encourage learners to commit suicide and mocks people with mental health problems.

Some parents complained the book, Smart Score Encyclopaedia Volume 1, gives inappropriate choices to real life situations. They also raised concern over numerous spelling mistakes.

One of the questions that parents complained about was: “Alice says she looks bad. What should you tell her?” Choices provided for this question included: 1. God loves, 2. Kill herself.

Another question is: "Lucy and Margaret are sisters. Lucy is loved more by her parents. What should Margaret do? The choices provided are: 1. Kill herself, 2. Do what her parents want.

Mental health advocate Jeff Khira said high and rising rates of suicides by primary school children in Kenya can be attributed to such classroom content.

“A child's thought process ends up wrongly structured by such knowledge fed to them at their early developmental phase,” he posted on his Twitter profile.

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In a statement, Longhorn Publishers Chief Executive Officer Maxwell Wahome said that they take full responsibility for the mistake and are committed to providing high quality material.

“We take pride in providing high quality learning materials to our customers, but in this instance, we failed. For this we are extremely sorry,” said Mr Wahome.

He further added that Longhorn Publishers take matters regarding mental health seriously and would never wish for their products to be considered to encourage suicide.

Textbooks for new education system have been characterised by mistakes since the rollout of the competency based curriculum.

Jomo Kenyatta Foundation also recalled its Grade Two English textbook following criticism over questionable content in 2018, a decision arrived at after a meeting with the then Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Secondary school teachers also demanded the withdrawal of textbooks provided by the government to students in secondary schools over errors and misleading facts.

Errors were identified in Kiswahili, English, Physics, Mathematics and Biology.

Some of the errors, include a mix-up of the content ideas, spelling mistakes and poor arrangement of topics.

Last year, Text book centre withdrew from its shelves a book published by Story Moja titled 'Blood Ties' due foul language.

Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) which regulates learning materials is schools   distanced itself from the textbook.

“The book is not approved by KICD. It is not listed in the Orange Book that contains a list of all books that schools should use for teaching and learning,” Julius Jwan, KICD Chief Executive Officer said.

Story Moja Managing Editor Monity Odera admitted that the book was not approved by KICD.

“Whereas we have not ascertained the authenticity of the allegations that the aforementioned title was recommended for Class Six pupils, we would like to clarify that this title was recommended for high school readers and above,” said Ms Odera.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) demanded that the errors must be corrected before students can continue using the books.

The ministry of education has since instructed teachers to ensure strict adherence to the list in the Orange Book.