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Economy

Primary school book plan revised on cash shortage

George Magoha
Education Secretary George Magoha. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The State has dropped plans to offer upper primary students a textbook each and will instead have three pupils share a single title due to lack of funds.

Education Secretary George Magoha told Parliament the Class Five and Six pupils will receive textbooks in January on a 1:3 textbook to student ratio.

This is a departure from an earlier government commitment that every student would be supplied with a textbook. “The books will be bought and availed in January when schools open but on a 1:3 ratio basis,” Prof Magoha told the National Assembly’s Committee on Education.

Prof Magoha said the Sh700 million provided for purchase of textbooks is inadequate to offer the 2.6 million Class Five and Six pupils a textbook each for each of the six subjects. The government last year began supplying textbooks directly to schools in a move targeted at achieving 1:1 textbook to student ratio in a bid to improve learning.

The direct supply was also aimed at getting rid of cartels in the distribution chain who had been blamed for inflating textbook prices.

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Prof Magoha’s announcement comes as schools prepare to close in a week’s time for the August holidays.

By the time schools were closing for the April holidays, pupils in classes Four, Five and Six were yet to receive textbooks after the government failed to remit capitation — the cash allocated to schools for books.

Pupils in Class Four have not been factored in the coming supply of textbooks of the 8-4-4 curriculum, which is being phased out.

The delays in supply of textbooks for upper primary classes has hurt learning in public schools with a teacher claiming she was forced to share out seven Kiswahili textbooks among 90 students.

Following the delays, headteachers have been lobbying for a return to the former policy where schools got cash earmarked for textbooks.

In 2016, a report by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) unearthed massive fraud in the procurement of textbooks for public schools, with headteachers playing a key role in the racket. The fraud ranged from forged signatures, delivery of phantom books, overpricing and single-sourcing of suppliers by instructional materials selection committees.

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