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Heads oppose distribution of Sh700m Class five and six textbooks

By Augustine Oduor | July 17th 2020

Primary school headteachers have opposed the ongoing distribution of Sh700 million textbooks for Class Five and Six pupils citing poor security in schools.

This is after the Ministry of Education directed the 23,000 head teachers to collect the consignment for their institutions.

A text message from one of the suppliers to school heads seen by The Standard informs the teachers to pick the books immediately, stressing that they will not be stored at the collection venues.

“Kindly arrange to be at (given venues) at times stipulated to collect books. Carry stamp to sign delivery. Due to security reasons, no books will be stored at the venues. Please cooperate,” read the message.

But the headteachers argue that there is no urgency to supply the books at this time because pupils are still at home following the outbreak of Covid-19.

The headteachers also cited poor security in schools claimed some school security personnel quit for lack of pay.

Kenya Primary School Heads Association national chairman Nicholas Gathemia said he had received several complaints from headteachers, saying they lacked the capacity to secure the books in schools.

“The headteachers want the supply of books done after schools reopen so that they can issue them to the students immediately they are delivered to ensure maximum security,” said Gathemia.

He said storage of textbooks worth hundreds of thousands of shillings in a school without security and guards who had not been paid salaries was a huge risk.

“This will attract break-ins that will put headteachers in a bad position with Education ministry, as all blame will be rested on them. Let books stay where they are until schools open,” said Gathemia.

“Headteachers believe that the textbooks stay in safe government stores and go-downs as the learners stay safe in their parents' homes,” he said.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association national chairman Kahi Indimuli said secondary schools had not received a notification to collect textbooks, and that this was not urgent.

“For now, what is urgent is how schools can prepare for an opening through the construction of additional classrooms, enhancing social distancing and making available water for handwashing,” said Indimuli.

The Standard Five and Six textbooks are being distributed after the National Assembly Education Committee last year demanded that the two classes with about 2 million children be included in the textbooks distribution plan initiated in 2017.

After a heated debate in Parliament, the government yielded to pressure and committed to buy and distribute textbooks to Standard Five and Six pupils in public primary schools.

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