18 October 2018

Kenya: Helicopter Illustration Proper for Children, Publishers Say

Photo: Will Rose/Twitter
Page from Grade 2 textbook in Kenya.

The Kenya Publishers Association on Thursday came out to defend itself against condemnation from the public, following an attack based on some content illustrations in some newly-published text books that people have found inappropriate.

The association, led by its chairman Lawrence Njagi, said the illustrations are suitable for early primary school children but disowned others falsely attributed to them.

During a press briefing in Nairobi, Mr Njagi in particular defended an illustration drawn for a lower grade textbook, showing an MP disembarking from a helicopter in a visit to a school.

The caption on the illustrations reads: "Teachers and learners are cheering. I saw a helicopter. It was flying low. It was flying just above the trees. 'Our leader! Our leader!' we shouted. It was our Member of Parliament. He travels in a plane. It belongs to him. The helicopter landed in our school playground. Three big cars arrived in our compound. They too belonged to him. He came out and greeted us. His wife waved at us. She had golden rings in her hand. He told us if we do well, he will give us a treat. He will lift us up the skies. I will try my best."

In response to the complaints by Kenyans, Mr Njagi said adults are interpreting it in the wrong way and thus distorting the intended meaning.

"There is nothing factually wrong with that passage. The passage should be looked at in the eyes of the child not in the eyes of the politician or us the grown-ups," he said.

The association's chairman said the media blew the passage out of proportion based on perception, rather that the facts.

But he disowned two books that have also been faulted for misleading learners.

In one of the books, a caption says the head is used to carry loads while the other illustration shows a couple in bed.

The publishers claimed the books are not local, but from Ghana and the United States but did not provide any proof.

"Saying we use our heads to carry loads, I completely concur that that is an unthinkable explanation of the use of an average African head. Our heads are not for carrying loads. We have a lot of uses for our heads. This is not a Kenyan text book and is not used in our curriculum. This particular text book comes from Ghana in West Africa. It has nothing to do with our curriculum or publishing houses," Mr Njagi said.

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