President Kenyatta launches national distribution of textbooks for schools

President Kenyatta flagging off the text books PHOTO COURTESY

NAIROBI, (PSCU)—President Uhuru Kenyatta today flagged off truckloads of books to primary and secondary schools in a new government initiative to ensure each student has a textbook for each of the core subjects.

In this programme, the Government has spent Ksh7.5 billion. Previously, when funds to buy books were sent to schools, more than Ksh20 billion was spent annually.

With this initiative, the government is, therefore, saving Ksh13.82 billion.

As a result, the cost of textbooks has gone down by more than 50 per cent.

“I am reliably informed that the cost of textbooks has significantly reduced, hence benefitting parents and guardians,” said the President.

The flagging off ceremony took place at the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa at Karen, Nairobi.

The President warned against abuse of systems that led to the exploitation of the public and misuse of taxpayers’ funds.

He cited the example of books published in Nairobi but sold at cheaper prices in Kigali, Rwanda, than in Kenya.

“It is clear that we have abused our systems. I will be tough on those who manipulate the system for personal gain,” the Head of State warned.

The President said the new books’ programme is one of the important components of the comprehensive reform being implemented in the education sector.

“We are reforming education because we are convinced it is a great equaliser in any nation,” said President Kenyatta.

He expressed optimism that with the one core course book policy, private schools and those run by religious organisations will benefit at the concessionary prices enjoyed by the Government.

He pointed out that government has implemented many policies to ensure that every child has access to quality education in order to acquire appropriate skills and knowledge that make Kenya globally competitive.

On curriculum reform, the President said the process is on track and it will be as consultative as it can be. He directed that the views of stakeholders be sought nationwide and “not just in Nairobi”.

“This is the dialogue we are looking for. This is the dialogue that will benefit our children and our country,” said the President.

He directed the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to ensure that the information on the new curriculum reaches every corner of the country.

“To enhance further stakeholder input, I direct the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to ensure that Regional Commissioners work with Regional Coordinators of Education to convene forums to educate the public on the new curriculum,” he said.

The President enumerated the reforms that have taken place in the education sector in the past four years. They are the elimination of exam fees for leaners in primary and secondary schools, enhanced capitation for secondary and primary learners in public schools; and integration of ICT in teaching and learning, including the Digital Literacy Programme and computers for secondary schools.

The President pointed out that in the 2016/2017 financial year, the government allocated Ksh6.6 billion to school infrastructure expansion, resulting in the enhanced capacity of secondary schools to facilitate 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school.

“A 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary for all learners is now a reality with free secondary education for day schools starting this month. The provision of medical care for all children in secondary schools through the National Hospital Insurance Fund, will bring relief to many families,” said President Kenyatta.

He said continuous reforms and push for good governance in education will ensure full benefit from the investments made by the government.

The President, therefore, directed the Ministry of Education to review its quality assurance systems to ensure the continuous promotion of learning outcomes in schools.

“The place of a National Education Management Information System in providing accurate data for decision making and planning is a key determinant on how efficiently national resources can be applied for greater impact in improving learning outcomes,” said the President.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said Kenya has achieved the 1:1 text book ratio, something many countries in the world haven’t been able to do.

He thanked the President for his role in ensuring education improves in the country.

Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the digitization of the syllabus is going on and plans are underway to ensure that all students get the devices.

Key education players, who included publishers, the private schools association members and teacher unions were at the function and supported the reforms being undertaken in education.