Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kenya to Nationalise Textbook Publishing?

Imagine the government stating that they were to start to publishing textbooks and in doing so obviously take control of the market. Would it save money, or merely transfer costs from the private sector to the public one? Would the quality and competitive diversity remain, or would the initiative and incentive to develop be negated and content ‘dumbed down’?

Following on the lead shown in Tanzania the Kenyan government is attempting to control text book pricing in their quest to fund universal primary education. A plan by the Kenyan Government, who currently spends some Sh500 million primary school text books, is now planning to enter into the book publishing market. The Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) is seeking to engage in more commercial activities such as publishing of textbooks.

The Kenya Publishers Association said such the move would kill their members’ businesses and result in the Ministry of Education developing instructional materials. A Government’s Summative Evaluation of the Primary and Secondary School Education Curriculum report claims that the move will enhance “accuracy of content” and “pedagogical innovations” as a best practice while citing factual and editorial errors by commercial printers.

Who has the necessary skills, aptitude and interest is and who is best equipped to develop educational media services and publishing of syllabi, digital content and other educational materials? In the Western free market we take it as a given but obviously, but others are now questioning this. Does State publishing provide a quick funding fix or just a perceived fix and will this be a one off or start a trend?

source: Business Daily Africa

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