Local publishers have announced plans to produce close to 17 million textbooks by September for the current group of Grade Seven learners as they transition to Grade Eight in junior secondary in January.
Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) chairperson Kiarie Kamau said 1.2 million textbooks are being processed per learning area under Grade Eight. There are 14 learning areas.
This follows approval from the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. The revelations came as Eldoret town gears up to host the first regional book fair next week that will bring together more than 30 publishers to promote a reading culture among Kenyans.
“We will use the regional book fair to display the Grade Eight book titles. We want our parents to familiarise themselves with the new book titles,” said Mr Kamau, who is also the East African Educational Publishers managing director.
Last week, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said the ministry has distributed 18 million textbooks for learners at the primary school level.
The Eldoret Regional Book Fair, whose theme is ‘Nurturing Talent through Publishing’, will start today and run till Saturday. Publishers will use the platform to o nurture talents such as writing and drawing or illustrations for children's books.
“We want to encourage people to read different books not just for passing examinations," he said. He urged the government to expedite the validation of the national book policy to promote a reading culture in the country.
Every September, Kenya Publishers Association organises the International Book Fair at Sarit Centre in Nairobi.
Mr Kamau lamented that most publishers are grappling with book piracy and the high cost of raw materials. In January, publishers estimated losses of up to Sh200 million annually to piracy of set books, amid revelations that the culprits have upgraded to offshore printing.
“We are working with the Kenya Copyright Board, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and anti-piracy agency to bring culprits to book. We have identified where these books are produced and we will be going after them,” Mr Kamau said. Kenya Publishers Association CEO James Odhiambo said the book fair will also promote local authors.
“We will have a stand for self-published authors and self-publishers. Some of the local publishers will use the forum to launch their latest book titles and engage with the readers,” said Mr Odhiambo.
Some of the activities lined up for the book fair include daily interactions with publishers and some authors, book launches, debates and workshops, children's activities, giveaway prizes, and art and craft competitions.
Books will also be sold at discounted prices.