KENYA: Bishops Warn of New Course Books with Explicit Content, Ask Teachers to Pluck Pages

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, AUGUST 15, 2023 (CISA)-Rt Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru, Chairman of the Commission for Education and Religious Education (CERE) of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has asked teachers to pluck all pages containing reproductive health content to protect learners from accessing inappropriate content when schools open for third term.

In an August 15 press conference at the beginning of the Catholic Schools Principals’ Association (CaSPA) meeting, the bishop confirmed to have sampled books for Grade 7 and singled out learners book titled “Top Scholar Health Education” by the Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB) Under Stand 7 on Human Reproductive Health, substandard 7.2 on Reproductive Health on page 127 and Grade 7 Teacher’s Guide titled “Health Education in Action” by Oxford University Press under Strand 7  on Human Productive Health, sub-strand 7.2 on Reproductive Health on page 153, which have created room for introduction of family planning and encouragement of the use of contraception to very young learners.

“The permissive framing of the curriculum and the curriculum design itself have allowed room for exploitation and abuse by publishers to introduce CSE (Comprehensive Sex Education). The mischievous and ‘behind the scenes’ introduction of CSE defies the narrative sold to Kenyans that the Competence Based Curriculum is based on values and any education given would be age-appropriate,” said Bishop Kariuki.

Flanked by Bishop Mark Kadima of Bungoma and the Vice chairman for CERE, Bishop Cleophas Oseso of Nakuru, Fr Prof Stephen Mbugua- the Vice Chancellor of Catholic University for Eastern Africa (CUEA) and Education stakeholders in Catholic Educational Institutions, the bishop stressed that the content is against the Ministry of Education Policy which protects children from explicit content.

“We note that the content not only sexualizes the learning environment for minors but will also be the biggest contributor to the high rates of teenage pregnancies and abortion. This is attributable to its failure to establish abstinence as the expected standard for all children,” he said in a statement also read in part by Bishop Kadima of Bungoma.

Stressing on the commitment by KCCB to focus on what imparts knowledge, values and life skills to our children and moulds them for a better tomorrow, he holds that Comprehensive Sex Education exposes learners to disruption from learning.

While calling on the Ministry of Education to initiate the removal of sub-trans 7.2 on Reproductive Health from all learning materials and the withdrawal of targeted books from the market, Bishop Kariuki has asked schools to remain vigilant and ensure the course books don’t contain inappropriate material. Parents have also been asked to keep an eye on the material their children are using in school and any books they are requested to buy for their children.