Tough-talking Uhuru launches Sh7.5bn free textbooks program


President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off trucks that will deliver free textbooks to public schools. [PSCU]

Nairobi: Friday Dec 5; President Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted that 2018 will be nasty one for corrupt Kenyans.

Flagging off the distribution of the provision of free text books that will cost the Government Sh 7.5 billion shillings, the president warned that it was time graft Czars changed the mindset that the wrong can be right.

“I want to be very clear that the changes I am proposing to make are going to come extremely hard on people who think they can continue to abuse the system for their own good at the expense of nation. They should step aside,” he said.

“Accountability for public resources is not going to be negotiable”.

The President said the provision of free core course text books to every learner in public schools had been achieved without an extra shilling being pumped into the Ministry of Education’s budget.

Said he: “We have achieved what we are launching today without adding a single shilling from the tax payer”.

On the contrary, he explained the government had saved Sh13.8 billion after bypassing middlemen and dealing direct with publishers.

This, he explained, had ensured a one-to-one text book ratio; that is each learner had the mandatory text books.

To illustrate the rot that was the procurement of textbooks in Kenya, he said books developed and printed in Nairobi were 50 per cent cheaper in Kigali, Ruanda.

Book distributors and trade unionists  had opposed the new textbook policy to no avail

He said the launch of the textbook program was a further development in his government’s educational reform that has started free day secondary school education making a 100 percent-transition from primary to secondary schools a reality, overhauled the examination system and integrated ICT into teaching and learning.

On curriculum change from the 8-4-4 to the proposed 2-6-3-3-3 system, which he said will be his most important legacy, the president called for broad stakeholder participation down to the village.

‘’The Education Ministry has been directed to engage broadly… we don’t need to shout at each other,” said the president

He also asked publishers to sell the core course text books to private schools as well as those run by faith-based organisations at the concessionary prices the government was enjoying.

“We’ve given you a lot of business,” he told the publishers.

The President asked the ministry to review its quality assurance systems and put in place a National Educational Management System “as the single source of truth for learners.”

He also called for the establishment of a national examinations feedback system so that educators can correct weaknesses so identified.