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'Errors' in books? What it takes for them to be approved

A highlighted "concept" error in a lower grade book. /COURTESY
A highlighted "concept" error in a lower grade book. /COURTESY

Questions have emerged over the past few months over errors in some books that have been approved for use in schools for the competency-based curriculum.

Publishers and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development - the agency responsible for quality control - have both come out to defend themselves against allegations of complacency.

Kenya Publishers Association chairman Lawrence Njagi said most of the highlighted “errors” have been taken out of context and are just perceptions.

He said those commentating about the errors are looking at the books with an adult eye yet the books are written from a child's point of view.

He said they, therefore, end up seeing mistakes even where none exists.

KICD chief executive officer Julius Jwan on Thursday said the textbooks have been listed in the Orange Book and were considered 99.9 per cent error-free.

“Interpretation has been a problem because it’s up to publishers to choose the illustrations. Tutors are helped in interpretation using the teachers' guide so it can always be in context with what students are learning,” he said.

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As the debate rages on, one wonders what processes are involved before a book is approved by the KICD.

Njagi said the process begins with the authors - who are teachers - presenting manuscripts to an approved publisher.

The submitted manuscripts are then reviewed by a different set of teachers who are experienced in the subject being reviewed.

This separate team of teachers pick and correct any factual errors touching on content.

This ensures minimal chances for errors and brings out the classroom experience.

After the copies have undergone the above processes, another team of professional editors steps in.

These are subject experts employed by publishing firms.

Their work is to edit the content for factual accuracy and language appropriateness.

After this team is done, the publisher then forwards the complete draft book to KICD for review.

KICD then subjects the copies to a rigorous quality control process to ensure that the course book or supplementary material meet the minimum set standards of quality in terms of content relevance and accuracy.

This stage involves KICD editors - who are experienced teachers in specific subjects - who go through the manuscripts using a detailed tool for vetting.

To ensure impartiality in the vetting and approval process, publishers are asked to submit copies without indicating their identity.

After the stringent vetting process, KICD writes a report to publishers highlighting the errors or omissions identified during vetting.

Publishers then make corrections on the manuscripts before returning the approved work to KICD for verification.

If KICD is satisfied that the book meets the minimum international standards for use in schools, it gives the publisher the greenlight to proceed with mass production of the book.

The institute normally approves six books per subject per grade/class.

For ease of identification by the general public, the books are listed in a document called the Orange book.

Books contained in this book are the ones recommended by the Ministry of Education for use in all public and private schools.

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