By Noon, March, 18th 2021, publishers across the country had responded to a request by Kenya institute of curriculum development (KICD) in submitting samples of set books for consideration in relation to selection of set books for secondary schools and colleges. The process of evaluation and award has since been marred by allegations of conman ship and strangulation of author’s rights.
Formerly, books were produced by government institutions that included KIE which has since been re-incarnated in to KICD, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation (JKF), and Kenya Literature Bereu (KLB). With expansion of schools and education, publishers from across the country campaigned and petitioned to be allowed a chance to produce set books for both secondary schools and colleges instead of the government institutions. This request was fully granted as the Government, through the ministry of Education, involved them in the production of books with KICD playing the role of supervising and vetting the whole process of book production.
According to lead experts in matters education, the recent evaluation and award of set books is arrogant and rude in equal measure. The game appears to get uglier and uglier as the government is getting directly involved in the purchase of books rather than approving for the purchase. Teachers on the other side, over the recent past, have been complaining of low content in set books since they cannot be tested more than two times and set books are scheduled to stay in place for at least four years.
Questions on how evaluation was done, how the awards were made and how KICD ensures that they come up with good and quality set books still remain at large. Citing from the most recent case of an award/ Intended award to six publishers, one publisher was forced to withdraw one set book raising eyebrows on the credibility of the evaluation process that had an error of 1/6.
Schools have long been known for constructing minds and never buildings or roads. This year tender-preneurship of books was introduced in schools and a question of how it was introduced remains unanswered.
In this new maneuver, there are claims that good books were sacrificed in favor of competitors who quoted low prices. According to sources that had an opportunity to look at the biding shit, books were quoted for as low as KSH45. Serious questions still remain unaddressed as to how an intellectual property could cost less than the price of milk or rather cheaper than a newspaper.
A game of praying with prices is also evident in that the law has allowed a 10% margin of price change. Within a period of four years in which this set books will be in place, stakeholders are set to go behind and negotiate and get approval to increase the prices. Reasons as to why the exact price can’t be set during evaluation and awarding are flimsy and incoherent.
The bid documents clearly indicate that those books should, by 100% be printed in Kenya in disguise the famous campaign of Buy Kenya, Build Kenya but measures and regulations have not been put in place to ensure that those books are printed in Kenya. According to publishers, it is very expensive to print those books in Kenya than abroad. It is clearly evident that almost all the publishers will have a quarter of the books printed in Kenya while three quarters printed abroad.
Publishers who were awarded this books forced authors to accept up to halve of the loyalties. The Kenyan law protects authors by ensuring that 10% as loyalties. This means that if you buy a book at ksh 500, the author will get ksh 50 bob. Due to conmanship in the body of elites, cases of authors accepting up to KSH 2bob per book were recorded. Others had to accept loyalties of up to 4.5% instead of the legally set fee of 10%.
It is now evident that it will reach a time when the country will be forced to re-educate the masses again. The Government through its ministry of education should move in swiftly to save the situation while it is still manageable. An humble appeal!