Westgate reads havoc

The Westgate attack in Nairobi has gotten worldwide attention.

While news agencies across the world have sent reporters to cover the terror, it has come as no surprise to some.

Supported by the PewResearchCentre, the number of people killed in religion-related terrorist attacks in Kenya has dramatically increased in recent years.

This has led to questions not only around the safety and security of people in Kenya, but also the effect on the economy.

I have examined the long-term repercussions the attack has caused in one of Kenya’s most important investments‒ the education of its youth.

Kenya’s education sector takes up about 30% of the government’s annual expenditure.  This accounts for the largest share of the annual budget.

Oxford University Press is one of the largest educational book publishers to Kenya. With its base in South Africa, OUP publishers can be found in Kenya at any given time.

As of the 21 August 2013, it had been confirmed that the recruitment of publishers from South Africa to Kenya was halted.

OUP has said that it takes the safety of its employee’s very seriously, and therefore publishers in Kenya at the time of attack have been sent back to South Africa, and no new flights have been booked.

What does this mean for Kenya’s education system:

  • Publishing gets delayed.

Publishers and important decision-makers in the textbook industry aren’t available to Kenya. This means that authors, editors and publishers alike are not able to meet deadline in time to provide schools with textbooks in time for a full academic year.

Oxford University Press Editorial and Production Manager, Sharon Villette, has said:

“There has been an unexpected disruption in our publishing operation. This will have inevitable consequences.

We (OUP) are however, working on ways to keep publication in Kenya on track, as far as we can. But there is no doubt that things will be delayed.”

Francesca Villette


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