This post is also available in: العربية

Moves by the Kenyan government to distribute more books to schools was welcomed by the chair of the Kenya Publishers Association, Lawrence Niagi in his opening address at the International Publishers Association second Africa seminar in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The Kenyan government has made positive strides towards attaining the desired ratio of one book per pupil.  Today, the Kenyan government, through the Ministry of Education, has funded the publication of close to 100 million textbooks that have been distributed to public schools, starting from Standard 7 up to Form Four.

“The same formula will be replicated with the newly introduced Competency Based Curriculum, which is being implemented right from the ECDE level.

“All this would not have been possible without the good working relationship we have continuously cultivated with the government. Of course, there have been hiccups here and there, but we shall continue working towards smoothening the rough edges.”

He also talked about the importance of publishing in local languages, saying: “It is worrying that some of our African languages today are faced with possible extinction, chiefly due to the onslaught of English and other Western languages. Our African children risk the threat of losing their identity as a result of the uncritical embrace of foreign languages.  This is an issue we as publishers need to look at critically. It is only through publication and subsequent teaching in schools that these African languages will stay alive.”

In his own opening address, Hugo Setzer, president of the IPA spoke about the IPA’s work on copyright, among other areas, in particular the sensitive topic of exceptions and limitations.

“These discussions are sometimes presented as a battle between the haves and have nots,” he said.  “This is not the case. Publishing ecosystems need balance. Balance between access, and negotiating balance between the different people in the value chain. Weakening copyright through exceptions and limitations to improve access is a short-term solution like destroying the dam to release the water in the reservoir. A flood of access followed by drought as no new books can be written and published.

“The IPA strongly believes that the international copyright framework is sufficiently flexible and robust to enable Member States the freedom to adapt their copyright laws to their local conditions.”