- Category: News and Highlights
KIPPRA got an opportunity to exhibit its publications and interact with booklovers and stakeholders in the publishing industry during the 19th Nairobi International Bookfair that took place on 21-25 September 2016 at the Sarit Centre, Nairobi.
Themed ‘inspired to read’, this year’s bookfair attracted 55 local and 15 international exhibitors eager to encourage more people, including pupils and students, to read for leisure. The bookfair was organized by the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA).
This year’s bookfair got the privilege of being officially opened by Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, who was accompanied by Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang and other Ministry of Education officials.
Before giving his speech, Dr Matiang’i visited a few exhibition stands to get a feel of the fair and interact with publishers. KIPPRA was among the lucky stands that caught the attention of the CS who, together with his entourage, stopped for a few minutes to listen to a brief explanation of what the institute does.
Other visitors to the KIPPRA stand were researchers, university lecturers and university students who wanted to find out whether the institute had publications in their specific areas of interest.
In his speech, Dr Matiang’i commended KPA for organizing the important event and for the choice of a timely theme. The CS said there was need to inspire Kenyans to read, not just for exams, but to expand knowledge and gain a broader perspective of issues. Dr Matiang’i said because of a poor reading culture, not many Kenyans could clearly express themselves.
“Some officers can hardly write reports, not to mention the horrors we see in CVs. Interview questions should include how many recent books the interviewee has read” said the CS.
He encouraged parents to cultivate a reading culture in their children early in life.
“Instead of spending time in the bar, go home and read to your children,” quipped Dr Matiang’i.
The CS then turned his attention to publishers, who he said were selling books at such high prices that pupils and students could not afford them.
“Some publishers and book distributors are stealing from our children and we cannot allow this to continue. We have to find a new way of distributing books to schools if we are to achieve the one book per child (1:1) ratio,” said the CS.
Dr Matiang’i wondered why some publishers distributed books directly to schools in Rwanda while engaging hundreds of middlemen to distribute books to schools in Kenya, hence hiking the prices beyond reach.
The CS quoted a recent UN report, which indicated that 50 per cent of teachers in Kenya were regular absentees and books in Kenya were 50 per cent more expensive than they ought to be.
Dr Matiang’i said it is time the Kenya Literature Bureau, the government-owned publisher, took a leading role in producing books for public schools.
Apart from the exhibition and sale of books at discounted prices, the bookfair also featured workshops and seminars on topical issues, book launches, children’s activities and the presentation of the Wahome Mutahi Literary Award, which was won by Ng’ang’a Mbugua (Angels of the Wild) and John Habwe (Kovu Moyoni).