The Ministry of Education has warned principals and headteachers against using books and instructional materials that have not been approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).
Through a circular, the ministry said KICD vets all such materials intended for use in schools that follow the national curriculum. The warning comes in the wake of a furore kicked off online by reports that a book that contains vulgar language had been recommended by some schools for use in Standard Six.
On Wednesday, KICD, through its official Twitter handle, also disowned the book, saying it is not approved for use in schools. Kenyans widely shared a page from the book Blood Ties by South African author Zimkhitha Mlanzeli, and published in Kenya by Storymoja Publishers in their Life Series.
"This book is not approved by KICD. It is not listed in the Orange Book that contains a list of all books that schools should use for teaching and learning. Not all books in the market are approved," the tweet read.
The institute went ahead to say that it had, in the past, been forced to respond to concerns raised about content in books imported into the country.
The Orange Book contains a list of approved books and other learning materials, according to the different levels, that is published by KICD and updated annually. It also contains the recommended prices. It is so called because of its orange cover. Schools are not allowed to use or recommend books not in the list. However, bookshops are at liberty to stock any titles from anywhere in the world.
"You are therefore required to bring to the immediate attention of all principals and headteachers that only books listed in the Orange Book are allowed for use in schools," reads the circular signed by Basic Education director-general Elyas Abdi.
The page that was shared contains curse words in describing a scene that appears like rape but which according to Storymoja managing editor, Ms Monity Odera, is a violent robbery.
Ms Odera issued a press release to acknowledge that the book was not submitted for vetting by KICD and is, therefore, not approved and that if the particular page was "read out of context, might be misconstrued'.
The book is no longer on the publisher's online catalogue. It has also been removed from Text Book Centre's website. They were said to have stocked some copies. The book seller also issued a statement concerning the book.
"We have pulled the book off our shelves and requested the publisher to recall it," part of the statement reads.
Despite the condemnation of the book, it was not clear which school(s) had asked Standard Six pupils to buy the book.