Longhorn Publishers #ticker:LKL has been forced to recall a Grade Two book from the market after parents questioned content that appears to encourage learners to commit suicide and that mocks people with mental health problems.
The parents accused the publisher of releasing the book, Smart Score Encyclopaedia Volume 1, which provides inappropriate choices to pupils on how to address life situations. They also complained of numerous spelling mistakes.
One of the questions that fuelled parents' rage is “Alice says she looks bad. What should you tell her?” Choices provided to answer the question are "1. God loves her, and 2. Kill herself."
Another question is: "Lucy and Margaret are sisters. Lucy is loved more by her parents. What should Margaret do? The choices provided are "1. Kill herself, and 2. Do what her parents want."
Mental health advocate Jeff Khira said the increasing rates of suicide cases among pupils can be attributed to such classroom content.
“A child's thought process ends up wrongly structured by such knowledge fed to them at their early developmental phase,” he posted on his Twitter profile.
In a statement on Friday, Longhorn Publishers chief executive officer Maxwell Wahome apologised for the erroneous content.
“We take pride in providing high quality learning materials to our customers, but in this instance, we failed. For this we are extremely sorry,” said Mr Wahome.
He added that Longhorn takes matters regarding mental health seriously and would never wish for their products to be considered to encourage suicide.
Some of the textbooks released for the new education system have been characterised by mistakes since the rollout of the competency-based curriculum (CBC).
Jomo Kenyatta Foundation was forced to recall its Grade Two English textbook following criticism over questionable content in 2018, a decision arrived at after a meeting with the then Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
Secondary school teachers also demanded the withdrawal of textbooks provided by the government to students in secondary schools over errors and misleading facts.
Errors were identified in Kiswahili, English, Physics, Mathematics and Biology.
Some of the errors, include a mix-up of the content ideas, spelling mistakes and poor arrangement of topics.
Last year, Text Book Centre withdrew from its shelves a book published by Storymoja titled 'Blood Ties' due foul language.
Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) which regulates learning materials distanced itself from the storybook.
“The book is not approved by KICD. It is not listed in the Orange Book that contains a list of all books that schools should use for teaching and learning,” said Julius Jwan, the KICD CEO.
Storymoja Managing Editor Monity Odera admitted that the book had not been approved by KICD.
“Whereas we have not ascertained the authenticity of the allegations that the aforementioned title was recommended for Class Six pupils, we would like to clarify that this title was recommended for high school readers and above,” said Ms Odera.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) demanded that the errors be corrected before students can continue using the books.
The Ministry of Education has since instructed teachers to ensure strict adherence to the list in the Orange Book.