Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Learners in Classes Four, Five and Six will not receive textbooks as earlier anticipated but will instead get them early next year, Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha has said.
The learners have been without textbooks for the last two years as ministry faced off with book suppliersover possible book fraud.
In January 2017, the government initiated plans to buy textbooks directly from publishers ignoring more than 2,000 booksellers and suppliers.
Appearing before National Assembly’s Education committee, Magoha and his Principal secretary Belio Kipsang said the earliest the books will arrive in schools will be January because government procurement procedures take time.
“Regrettably, these classes will receive textbooks early next year,” Magoha told the Julius Melly-led committee. “However, 170 million have already been bought and will be supplied to schools in a ratio of 1:3,” he added.
The CS said for the last 16 years when free primary education was introduced, government has continuously funded schools to carry out their work including buying textbooks directly.
As a result, he said, schools are not likely to be disadvantaged as they still have some residual books in their libraries for use until new ones are procured.
In an audit report released last year, the government was estimated to be losing up to Sh13 billion annually to book fraud.
Quality of books
According to the report, school heads across the country failed to verify the quality of books delivered, which had in turn given rise to powerful cartels.
“The total amount of money given to schools annually towards purchase of books is about Sh18.5 billion but the actual amount of money used on books is only Sh5 billion,” says the report in brief.
Additionally, most schools were shown to have ignored procurement procedures when purchasing books and faulted government’s failure to step up inspection of schools to save the money.
The Ministry of Education advocates that each primary school pupil gets about Sh761 per year towards books under the free primary education policy while another 2.3 million secondary school students receive Sh4,792 each yearly towards books purchase.
This translates to nearly Sh11 billion on textbooks under the subsidised education programme.
Magoha has however instructed his officials to mop up excessive books in some secondary schools and re-distribute them to institutions that lack the same.
“We will collect all the surplus books in some of our institutions and redistribute them to various schools,” he said.
In March, Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers Association (Kepsha) told Parliament that schools are yet to buy textbooks for classes Four, Five and Six while those in classes Seven and Eight are without two titles — Religious Education and Social Studies.
The delay was linked to government failure to remit money to schools for buying the textbooks and tendering hitches after the State failed to offer contracts to firms selected to supply classes Seven and Eight books.
This has forced pupils to share textbooks bought either by the schools or the ones acquired before the government stopped head teachers from buying learning materials.