Ensure equitable supply of school textbooks

Primary school head teachers select textbooks during the 14th annual Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association conference in Mombasa last week. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

When the Government rolled out the Sh7 billion book project, there was a collective sigh of relief from parents and learners. Parents felt relieved because the burden of buying textbooks would be partially taken off their heavy shoulders, while relief for learners was that relevant course books would be made available and distributed in such a manner that sharing did not negatively affect learning and performance.

But as with so many other noble projects before, the execution of the book project appears to have been shambolic.

Despite studies to establish the number of students across the country who stood to benefit, the distribution was skewed. Some schools have reported having received more textbooks than they require while some schools in Kakamega and Homa Bay counties have reported short supply of the learning materials.

The result of this supply inequality is causing inefficiency in learning. The ministry of education needs to move with speed to rectify this anomaly to give students in all schools an equal chance at learning. It is such small operational mistakes that erode public confidence in the government’s ability to honour its end of the bargain in most undertakings. What is more surprising, however, is that it has taken almost a year to reveal an error that has cost some learners.

Over supplied books should be returned immediately for re-distribution to schools in dire need. There shouldn’t be too much bureaucracy in executing this, but accountability must be exacted.