Amina picks team to clean up course books, report findings

Head teachers from various primary schools country-wide select text books for their schools as the 14th annual Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) came to an end on Thursday, August 16, 2018. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has set up a seven-member committee to vet and clean textbooks to be used starting January. 

In a gazette notice released on Friday, Amina appointed Mike Eldon to lead the taskforce to review the pre-primary and junior primary textbooks in the context of the competence-based curriculum.

Mohammed Hussein Abdille, Walter Juma Ongeti, Jennipher Kimani, Michelle Wariara Karume, Alice Nderitu and Soiya Gecaga are the other members of the committee. 

Amina said the team, dubbed Ad-hoc Orange Book Review Task Force, will carry out an immediate assessment of the curriculum instructional material within the Orange Book.

The Orange Book is a guide that gives a comprehensive list of course books and other instructional materials approved by the Ministry of Education for use in all learning areas for Early Years Education (Eye).

Course books

Eye covers pre-primary and lower primary education. The course books and materials listed in the guide are for the competency-based curriculum for Eye based on the Basic Education Curriculum Framework (2016).

The government will procure and distribute textbooks for grade one to three when schools open for first term. The Ministry of Education adopted new direct books distribution policy starting this year.

Under the policy, only one book was approved for each course unit, limiting teachers’ choices on teaching materials. The government will spend only Sh7.6 billion on the new textbook policy, saving more billions.

The task force is expected to conduct the cleaning process of all materials contained in the Orange Book before schools open next year. Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) chairman Lawrence Njagi said the team will vet, clean and verify books ahead of distribution to schools.

“Their roles are limited to that exercise and not total review of Orange Book textbooks because that would be a massive exercise,” said Njagi.

Sources in Amina’s office told School and College that the decision to set up the team followed a huge outcry from the public over the content contained in textbooks.

Teachers and education experts also pointed out certain factual errors in some of the books. In some of the materials, learning areas were omitted while others had serious mix-ups.

At the height of the complaints, teachers called for an audit to ascertain whether the books delivered to schools had been vetted and approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

Publishing experts blamed the errors on poor quality controls during the vetting and cases where publishers influence the approval of flawed books.

The experts also alleged that the books approved by the KICD vetting panel might not be the same ones in circulation.

The team will also analyse the components of the evaluation criteria such as relevance, content, language used and editorial quality. They will also check assessment activities, illustrations and layout of the books as contained in curriculum designs for course textbooks and teachers guide.

The team will also analyse the curriculum designs for the CBC for Eye to understand the layout of strands and activities within the learning areas.

Errors analysed by Saturday Standard included some topics in the core subjects such mathematics, Kiswahili, English, biology, and physics.

Vetting team

The vetting team will now analyse the syllabus to gain understanding of the flow and layout of the topics and learning experiences for various subjects and levels. Overall, the team is expected to write a comprehensive report on its findings, which will be used to make critical decisions.

Sources revealed that some books may be dropped and others retained based on evaluation process.

Amina is reported to have said that the process will guarantee quality of books already approved by KICD.  

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