Schools get 33 million textbooks as state narrows shortfall

Kisii Education Executive Amos Andama (left), hands over free government textbooks to Kisii School principal Morris Ogutu as officials from Kenya Literature Bureau looks on. (Sammy Omingo, Standard)

The government has supplied the last tranche of the 33 million text books to schools under a new strategy that has saved the exchequer Sh5 billion.

A new status report on book distribution to schools shows that primary and secondary learners now have text books in all the subjects under the new plan started in January.

The plan, which is a departure from the previous system in which head teachers bought the text books, was meant to address concerns that the pupil-textbook ratio was as high as 5.1 in some schools in spite of government expenditure of Sh15 billion annually on the materials.

Yesterday, Early Learning and Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang said the government is happy that the 1:1 pupil-textbook ratio was being achieved.

The brief on Government Textbooks Distribution Report (2018) was prepared by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and shows book distribution status by close of this month.

It emerged that 31 million textbooks had been distributed across 20,158 public schools by August 20, with the remaining books to be delivered by end of the month.

The ministry procured the books at a cost of Sh7.6 billion in a new plan that saved taxpayers billions.

Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB), Oxford University Press (OUP), Moran East Africa, Longhorn Publishers and East African Educational Publishers (EAEP) were competitively picked in the distribution of books.

Exceeded targets

KLB had distributed 18.7 million books, exceeding the target which was put at 18.3 million. Oxford University Press has distributed four million copies to schools. The publisher also exceeded the target by some 500 books.

Longhorn had so far distributed 3.3 million books as Moran supplied 2.6 million copies, delivering on the targeted number.

Only East Africa Educational Publishers had 6.65 per cent of Mathematics Standard eight pupils text books undelivered.

“This amounts to 66,512 textbooks of 1,000,109 contracted,” reads the report.

Of the 21,821 schools targeted, only 1,663 schools were yet to receive books.

“All 47 counties have received text books. The remaining schools are spread in five counties of Turkana (183), Narok (264), Baringo (634), West Pokot (506) and Busia (66),” reads the report.

The report says the distribution of the remaining books was completed by August 29.

This means that KICD should have received delivery notes by August 31, according to the distribution plan.

The Ministry of Education launched the direct to schools supplies after it emerged that school heads colluded with some supplies to steal billions meant for textbook supplies.

KICD initiated a new re-tendering process, which found that the prices quoted in the current approved textbook list had highly inflated costs.

The ministry scaled the project to cater for all public primary and secondary schools and textbooks distribution targeted learners in standard 7, standard 8, Forms 1, 2, 3 and 4. More than 33 million text books were to be distributed, increasing the cover to more than 30,342 schools and over six million learners.

In the primary school level, textbooks in English, Kiswahili, Mathematics and Science were distributed under phase I. In secondary school level, English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology textbooks were supplied to schools.

The KICD report also contains good news that a few errors identified in textbooks meant for primary and secondary schools have been corrected through an elaborate process that involved subject specialists and publishers.

It reveals that the books that were found to have some minor mistakes after evaluation were corrected and reports sent to schools on the corrections made.

The distribution report says that after notification of the errors in specific books were made to KICD, the publishers were asked to provide the old tittles and the new editions they sent to schools in 2018.

“The books were verified by the subject specialists to confirm the anomalies. KICD recommended the changes to be effected in liaison with the publisher in subjects where the errors were confirmed,” reads the report.

It further says the publishers effected the changes and provided an addendum to the schools.

Slow delivery

The report also cites many challenges that contributed to the slow delivery of books in some sections of the country.

The brief cites the unexpected and prolonged heavy rains from February 2018 to May 2018 that resulted in destruction or roads and other transportation infrastructure.

It also emerged that Kenya has a low printing capacity, pushing down the rate at which the copies were churned out for distribution.

“Due to these challenges, not all targeted schools were supplied with the text books within expected time,” reads the report.

The report reveals that KICD extended the call of contracts to allow for delivery once the transportation became practical. “The extension was wise since the 100 per cent delivery for Phase 1 is now a reality,” says report.