Achieving the Optimum Curriculum: A Survey of the BSc in Information Sciences Curriculum in the Context of Market Needs in Kenya. By Diana Rosenberg. Eldoret, Kenya: Moi University, Faculty of Information Sciences, 1994. 56 p.
This is a report of a study carried out as part of a British Government Overseas Development Administration project to support the establishment of the Faculty of Information Sciences at Moi University. It follows up a 1989 publication by the same author: Survey of Skills and Training Needs of Information Professionals in Kenya. Diana Rosenberg was the dean of the Faculty of Information Sciences throughout the period covered by the study.
The Faculty of Information Sciences was established in 1988 to train information professionals in a curriculum combining librarianship, information science, archive and records management, publishing, printing, and the book trade. The rationale behind this approach was the effective use of resources. Six years down the road, Rosenberg attempts to evaluate the program in terms of actual market needs and suggest ways to improve the curriculum. Her objective: to find out where graduates are employed and how well the course have prepared them for the work place. Rosenberg is also interested in gauging employer satisfaction as a measure of the course’s worth, and the employers’ sense of which areas of training are lacking. The study explores the concept of harmonized training for the information professional, and from the findings suggests curriculum improvements.
The information is presented in a compact book of no more than 56 pages. In the first chapter, the author provides background. In chapter 2 she discusses the methodology. Rosenberg chose to personally administer questionnaires to the three sets of players involved: the students who had graduated, the lecturers who taught the course, and the graduates’ employers. The interviews were carried out by staff experienced in research under the direction of the Dean herself. Problems encountered during the course of the interview process included difficulties with uncooperative employers in the private sector who jealously guarded company information. In addition, not all teaching staff could be reached, and some students did not return questionnaires (although the response rate on the whole was quite good). Unscheduled closures of the University caused delays in graduation, which led to further difficulties. Chapter 3, which comprises the bulk of the book and has no fewer than 11 tables, presents the survey results. Chapter 4 contains the discussion and survey conclusions, while Chapter 5 is devoted to recommendations.
Among the significant recommendations is a call for faculty to involve employers from both the private and the public sectors in curriculum design. This is a particularly timely call regarding the private sector. Most Third World countries are grappling with structural adjustment programs that have drastically reduced public sector employment, including library jobs, which are usually the first to face the ax. As a result, the private sector is slowly becoming a significant employer in the information field. The conventional wisdom is that the public sector may accept poorly trained people, but that the private sector always demands quality. Course curriculum should reflect those high standards.
The author cites the usual limitations of time, space, and financial resources, particularly with reference to the methodology. She also calls for further research of curriculum developments elsewhere. Significantly absent is a section on literature review, which would have helped to broaden the context of the study. Also missing: references and a bibliography, oversights that this writer thinks reduce the value of the research.
Nevertheless, the subject of the book has value for a broad audience — not just Moi University or the education authorities in Kenya. The author supports the movement in Third World countries to bring library education home, to train our librarians in an environment as close as possible to the one in which they will operate. The need seems even greater now, given the effect on library practices of technological developments in the developed world, and economic structural adjustment programs in the developing world. Bringing library education home, however, should not just mean duplicating the education systems of the U.S. or the U.K. Hence the importance of Rosenberg’s book, which emphasizes the need to look at local conditions and evaluate the curriculum in terms of those conditions.
About the Author
Ashabai Chinyemba is Head of the Department of Library and Information Science, Harare University, Zimbabwe. Previously he was Law Librarian in the University of Zimbabwe; Assistant Librarian in the Library of Parliament (Zimbabwe), and Senior Librarian in the City of Harare Libraries. After his B.A. at the University of Sierra Leone, Mr. Chinyemba went to the University of Strathclyde in Scotland for the Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship. Since then he has had advanced study in Harare Polytechnic, leading to a diploma in human resources management. He was an American Library Association/USIA Library Fellow in 1994/1995, at the University of Pittsburgh.
© 1995 Ashabai Chinyemba.
Chinyemba, Ashabai, “Review of Achieving the Optimum Curriculum: A Survey of the BSc in Information Sciences Curriculum in the Context of Market Needs in Kenya, by Diana Rosenberg,” Third World Libraries, Volume 5, Number 2 (Spring 1995).
Top of Page | Table of Contents