Get to the root of textbook debacle

Sunday March 11 2018

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The government’s new textbook policy is quite noble and desirable.

However, it has run into headwinds because of poor execution, hence the imperative for a review.

The policy has two components: Having one textbook per subject and direct supply to schools.

It seeks to ensure fair and equitable provision of teaching and learning resources to all schools and to enhance the quality of education.

Importantly, it has cut down the cost of textbooks by nearly half, a huge relief to parents.

Although the project was launched with fanfare early in the year, it has emerged that some of the textbooks have major deficiencies.

Some titles have glaring errors, which is a real threat to quality learning.

Textbooks are an invaluable input in learning. Students depend on them for extended reading and reference.

Often, they are the main source of information when teachers fail to teach or students are unable to follow classroom instructions.

This is why the quality of textbooks must be guaranteed.

However, the project was executed poorly. Everything was done in a hurry, giving room for technical lapses.

Book publishing is an elaborate process that involves several levels of quality checks.

Proposed subject titles are then subjected to an equally rigorous vetting by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, which gives its approval for the titles to be used by students.

But such rigour fails when the notice is too short, as was the case here.


Publishers got notice to prepare titles late last year and, therefore, had to run — literally — to meet the tight deadlines.

The KICD had little time to go through the manuscripts, and, once it gave its seal of approval, publishers had to work round the clock to deliver the books when schools opened in January.

The Education ministry has admitted the goofs and undertaken to have them corrected.

This must be done quickly to spare learners the ignominy of erroneous content.

A thorough audit is necessary to establish how the errors occurred and the amount of money lost.

However noble the intention, a project should never be hurried and the voice of stakeholders must be heard.