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Rising concerns over discrimination in textbook distribution

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Allegations of bias mar the government’s textbook distribution policy as it enters the second phase in January.

For the second year in a row, some classes will not receive textbooks as the government will only target Standard 7 and 8, and those in secondary school.

This means about six million learners in Standard 1 to 6 will miss textbooks

The government in January adopted a textbook distribution policy that led to a slash in funds set aside to buy books under free primary education.

It instead bought books directly from publishers and distributed them to schools.

The new policy was arrived at after a joint World Bank and government team focused on reforming textbook procurement and distribution systems.The World Bank and USAID gave donations to facilitate the initial book distribution.

The funds were to be supplemented by cash from the Education ministry to ensure students in all classes received books on a ratio of 1:1.

The objective was to reduce textbook prices while maintaining a high quality of printing, paper, and binding.

The Star has established that publishers are currently preparing to dispatch the first batch of textbooks in the second phase of the project in January.

The second phase deal, signed in October last year and set to end in March 2019, only targets students in secondary schools and Standard 7 and 8 in primary school.

Kenya Publishers Association chairperson Lawrence Njagi said at least 22 million textbooks were printed by six contracted publishers and distributed to public schools.

Njagi said publishers are 75 per cent done with printing ahead of school reopening on January 3.

In primary school, learners are set to receive Social Studies and Religious Education textbooks.

Those in secondary will get History, Geography, Religious Education, Business Studies, and Agriculture textbooks. The Star has further established plans by the government to include setbooks in the distribution.

The distribution targets to achieve a 1:1 student, textbook ratio in the targetted classes after distribution of Mathematics, Languages and Sciences textbooks in the first phase.

Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association chairperson Shem Ndolo yesterday told the Star that schools are still waiting for the government to distribute the books.

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