According to the report presented to President Ruto by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER), the School Equipment Production Unit (SEPU) will take over the role of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in the procurement and distribution of textbooks to public schools.
As a result, KICD will focus solely on its two core functions of curriculum design creation and manuscript review for book publishers. Meanwhile, SEPU will take on the task of procurement.
Further, the PWPER report suggests reorganizing SEPU and rebranding it as the School Learning and Instruction Materials Centre (SLIMC) to represent its increased mandate better.
“Provide for its (SLIMC) establishment in the Basic Education Act and expand its mandate to include the procurement and distribution of learning and instruction materials. Thus, the current arrangement where books are procured for schools by KICD be discontinued, and the function taken to the restructured Sepu” PWPER recommends.
Quality training for publishers and digital content creators on content creation is also recommended in the report, with that duty falling to SLIMC. The KICD currently plays this role.
SLIMC will encompass a diverse membership, including representatives from the Basic Education Department, KICD, Kenya National Examinations Council, Kenya Teacher Training College, National Treasury, and the Private Schools Association.
There have been discussions about raising basic education funding per learner at all levels of education. This means that SLIMC will have more control over the budget for learning materials, including books.
The projected allocation per student is as follows: Sh1,125 for pre-primary, Sh1,808 for primary, Sh5,826 for junior school, and Sh7,844 for senior secondary.
The PWPER report also recommends changes to the number of approved books the government can procure for school supplies.
KICD usually selects one book per subject based on the technical score and pricing.
“Ensure that the best two evaluated textbooks by KICD are supplied to each public school and strengthen KICD’s capacity to publish course books in areas where publishers do not submit manuscripts for evaluation,” the report stated.
In February 2023, the government distributed textbooks valued at Sh3.2 billion to all public schools with junior secondary learners. The shipment comprised over 17 million student textbooks and over 400,000 teacher guides across all disciplines.
The direct textbook procurement approach was introduced in 2018 to address concerns that substantial funds had been expended without achieving a 1:1 learner-to-textbook ratio, which has now been successfully attained.