Book pol­icy calls for talks

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

While the de­ci­sion to change the text­book pol­icy for pri­mary and sec­ondary schools to have only one core text­book may be well-in­tended, it’s ev­i­dent that not ev­ery­body is com­fort­able with it. How­ever, re­quir­ing par­ents to buy six text­books per sub­ject un­nec­es­sar­ily bur­dens them. At the same time, there has been some grum­bling by teach­ers, pub­lish­ers and other stake­hold­ers, which can­not be just ig­nored.

The Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry is keen to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of par­ents who were be­ing forced to buy too many books for the ben­e­fit of pub­lish­ers, car­tels and some un­scrupu­lous head­teach­ers. Th­ese car­tels in the school text­book sys­tem en­sure that some shod­dily pre­pared books are picked over bet­ter ones. The au­thor­i­ties can­not just sit back and let this hap­pen. How­ever, it’s also true that hav­ing one text­book per sub­ject would deny stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to en­rich their learn­ing.

The Kenya In­sti­tute of Cur­ricu­lum De­vel­op­ment has been us­ing the Or­ange Book, which con­tains a list of six text­books per sub­ject, as the stan­dard guide. From that list, teach­ers choose what they con­sider suit­able. The lin­ger­ing con­tro­versy in­di­cates there is a need for fur­ther pub­lic de­bate. As pub­lish­ers pre­pare to bid for text­books, the govern­ment should fully ex­plain the new pol­icy. Even as we try to re­duce ex­penses for par­ents, we must not lose sight of the need for qual­ity learn­ing.

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