• Education Ministry had instructed students to keep all textbooks from Forms 1 to 4 and give them back when they finish secondary school.
• However, Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang now says government will use funds for textbook purchase to acquire other learning materials.
The government has changed its plan for secondary school students to keep textbooks for four years.
Instead, they will get a new book each year as publishers have enough supply to last until 2023.
In January this year, the Education ministry directed students to keep all textbooks issued to them from Forms 1 to 4 and return them when they finish secondary school.
This meant those students would move to the next class with the books issued in the previous class.
The ministry says keeping the textbooks will facilitate completion of the syllabus in schools that could be lagging behind.
However, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang revealed a change of heart, saying the government will now use the funds allocated to purchase the textbooks to acquire other learning materials.
Kipsang told the Star the original thinking was that since 72 per cent of secondary learners are day scholars, including 28 per cent boarders, each child should have a book for every subject as they proceed to the next level.
"We've since reconsidered ... and we shall be able to ensure that going forward the books that have been supplied for the next three or four years are the books that we will use to ensure optimal utilisation," he told the Star.
He said that by saving on new textbooks, the ministry can focus on other areas of need and ensure schools have other instructional materials. The PS said, "Instructional materials go beyond books and include lab equipment to ensure an even playing field both in boarding schools and day schools."
This decision comes amid the much-touted 100 per cent transition from Primary to secondary schools; this has strained secondary school resources.
Students will now be required to return textbooks issued to them when moving to the next class at the end of every year.
They will be issued with books for their next class.
The directive follows a backlash by teachers who called for the supply stopped and students allowed to use the previous supply with more funding set aside for laboratories, classes and dormitories.
The teachers said it did not make sense to issue students new books every year as they could use those supplied in the previous year.
Yesterday, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association Indimuli Kahi praised the new plan, saying he funds could be used for other purposes.
"It is a good call by the ministry so we can try and balance all learning materials required... The funds that had been allocated for the textbooks can now be transferred for laboratory equipment and construction of classes and dormitories which are congested," Kahi told the Star yesterday.
Data from the Kenya Publishers Association reveals that the books distributed will be enough to serve the institutions until 2023.
Books have a shelf-life of six years.
However, schools will get a top-up of books based on the increase in student population.
Statistics from the Education ministry reveal that in the last year, the government has supplied 33 million books covering six core subjects in secondary schools.
These are Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Kiswahili.
Another 23 million books were distributed for social sciences books.
They include Geography, History, Religious Education, Home Science and Business Studies, among others.
(Edited by V. Graham)