Agency raises red flag over mass circulation of counterfeit books in Kenya

Moran Publishers' Nyanza regional sales manager David Okeyo (right in red shirt) together with Kenya Booksellers Association chairman Mark Kajwang peruse some of the counterfeit books that are being sold along the streets of Rongo Town, Migori County. [Photo: Stanley Ongwae/Standard].

Parents and teachers have been warned against buying counterfeit school textbooks.

The Kenya Booksellers Association (KBSA) has raised the red flag over mass circulation of fake books.

South Nyanza region KBSA Chairman Mark Kajwang claimed some school heads buy such books from 'briefcase' suppliers, who, according to him, are agents promoting uncertified literature materials against the law.

Mr Kajwang further said unscrupulous head teachers had formed cartels that sell counterfeit school course books to their institutions.

"It is against regulations for head teachers to buy school books from dealers who are not registered and whose educational materials have not been authenticated," he warned.

Kajwang noted that most books being sold in the streets were counterfeit, thus killing the businesses of genuine publishers.

Last year, the association held a series of consultative meetings to address the matter in South Nyanza with county directors of education, area governors and publishers.

Participants agreed that education officers be part of the war against illegal books by ensuring all literature materials supplied to schools were genuine and bought from licensed traders.

Homa Bay County Director of Education Steve Barongo and his Migori counterpart Beatrice Atsiago said their offices would work together with publishers and booksellers to identify errant teachers.

Some measures include restricting schools from buying books sold by traders who do not issue Kenya Revenue Authority tax receipts.

A crackdown on such booksellers is ongoing, with the swoop targeting street vendors and hawkers.