Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Saur June 3, 2016

Does Africa’s LIS Education Address New Forms of Digital Content and Related Right?

Dick Kawooya
From the journal Libri


As the case is elsewhere in the world, Library and Information Science (LIS) education in Africa is largely lagging behind industry developments with reference to the legal and policy framework regulating digital content and technology. Notwithstanding the importance of information ethics, LIS programmes in Africa tend to predominantly focus on ethical issues at the expense of legal issues. For most LIS programmes, the national legal and policy infrastructure regulating digital technology and content is simply missing in the curriculum. Others only have sprinklings of legal knowledge in the curriculum. Digital technology and content is fundamentally changing the way people in Africa access and consume information. The fundamental question is how prepared are librarians for the ever-changing digital rights associated with digital technology and content? In this paper digital rights refer to the application of traditional human rights to digital technology or digital environments. Second, are LIS programmes in Africa preparing professionals that are capable of navigating the difficult terrain of digital rights as well as engaging in legal and policy discourse on digital rights that affect LIS institutions? The paper is the first step in understanding what is taught by LIS programmes in Africa based on the analysis of course titles and descriptions from 11 programmes. Courses reviewed generally touched on some of the legal and technological issues associated with digital content. However, several of the contemporary issues associated with digital content and rights are missing from the courses and curriculum.


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Appendix: Detailed Table of Course Titles and Descriptions


Legal (L)

Ethics (E)

Other areas (O)

InstitutionCourse titleNo.Course description
University of Botswana (UB)African Information EnvironmentO1No course descriptions found.
Information and SocietyO2
Legal Issues of InformationL1
Legal Information SystemsL2
Global Information SystemsO3
MPhil and PhD degreesCourse information not available.
University of Ghana [6] (UG)Information in SocietyO4Topics to be treated in this course include types of information: the communication process; communication in pre-literature societies; oral tradition; social, cultural and economic factors affecting information: national information policies; the African information society initiative and barriers to communication and information transfer.
Publishing and the Book TradeO5In this course we will explore the history of printing and publishing; the writer, publisher and bookseller; reasons and functions of book provision; legal aspects of publishing; literacy in the African context; reading habits in Africa; the publishing industry in Ghana; publishing inter-relationships; marketing and book promotion.
Economics & Marketing of InformationO6No course description available
Moi University (MU)Legal Aspects of InformationL3
University of Namibia (UN)Course information not publicly available on the web
University of Ibadan (UI)No legal or digital rights-related course. However, topics might be covered in existing courses.
University of Pretoria (UP)Information Science 240L4Social and ethical impact. This module examines moral and legal regulation practices related to information in print and digital environments. Different ethical theories are identified and applied to privacy, access to information, information poverty and censorship. The interpretation and enforcement of rules and regulations are discussed.
Information Science 260L5Economics and politics of information. This module examines the economics and politics of information, with a special emphasis on South Africa’s information sector. It aims to promote an understanding of the market and non-market qualities of information, and their consequences for the production, distribution and marketing of information goods and services. The ways in which information access and expression are regulated and the use of ICTs in crime and corruption is also addressed.
Information Science: Digital Repositories 340O7This module deals with the construction and management of digital repositories. It also addresses the characteristics of the digital repository in a rapidly changing technological world and a challenging information society. Core aspects include: system design, relationships to hybrid libraries, digital collections and rights management, standards, virtual referencing and the development and evaluation of digital repositories.
Information Science: Socio-political Aspects of Information in Global Context 360O8This module examines aspects of the information and knowledge society within local, regional and international contexts. A special focus of the module is the interaction and exchange of data, information and knowledge from communities’ local knowledge system with data, information and knowledge from the global knowledge system. The module discusses the growth and role of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and their implications for development.
Information Ethics 715E1This module focuses on the main moral issues pertaining to information and ICT, globalization, privacy and knowledge flow. It covers amongst others the following fields: cyber warfare and terrorism; information philosophy; information security; privacy and the right to information; digital identity management; cyber law; globalization and the impact on society.
Durban University of Technology (DUT)Programme information cannot be found.
University of Zululand (UZ) [7]Information Ethics and InfopreneurshipE2This module aims to equip students with knowledge of the legal and ethical issues concerning information services and sensitize them to the need for observing legal and ethical requirements in information management and services. In addition, the module will provide students with knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the economics implications of information services, transfer and use that can enable them to develop infopreneurship. There is a fieldwork component attached to this course.
Information EthicsE3This module aims to equip students with knowledge of the legal and ethical issues concerning information services and enables them to observe and recognize legal and ethical requirements in information management and services.
University of KwaZulu Natal (UKN)Programme information cannot be found.
The University of South Africa (UNISA) [8]The Political Economy of InformationO9To develop a critical appreciation of the politics and economics of information (focus on production and regulation); illustrate impact of global and national information infrastructures on flow of information; participate in information policy debates, manage and use intellectual property; and to map the information industries (convergence, ownership, privatization, regulation, privacy).
Investigating Information Ethics in the Information EraE4To gain insight into the existence, nature and context of different types of information in order to sensitize students to ethical issues relating to information. They will be introduced to the main ethical theories and normative principles of information science; the difference between morality and the law; and issues of access, privacy and intellectual property within the framework of the South African law.
Ethical Information and Communication Technologies for Development SolutionsE5Students who successfully complete this module will be able to present critical arguments around ICTs for development, while appreciating ethical dimensions within an information society in relation to copyright and intellectual property rights, privacy, conduct and expectations. In addition, successful students will be able to demonstrate their ability to maintain efficient, organized and secure electronic working environments by managing digital files, systems and application software, as well as capabilities related to engaging with textual and numerical data to present information in various formats.
Makerere University, Uganda (Mak)Information and SocietyO10Information and knowledge, information as a discipline, branches of information science, libraries in society, information science, librarian as an information scientist, information life cycle, the information revolution, information as an agent of social transformation, role of information in development, history of information science education; library science and information science, laws of library science; information and communication, information needs; information seeking behaviour and use; libraries, information in Africa and outside world, the information society and its challenges, sociology of information, economics of information, role of information in national development, appraisal of the existing information institutions and services in Uganda and Africa; information policy and systems for Uganda and Africa at large; information for specialized groups of users; the disadvantaged and gender issues related to library and information service
Publishing and Book TradeO11Publishing concepts, publishing and development, organization of a publishing house, international book publishing scene, publishing laws, publishing agreements, protocols, conventions, defamation, contracts, plagiarism, intellectual property and copyright, etc., formal and informal publishing, financial management, human resource development, and the gender factor in publishing, book trade.
Legal, Policy and Information EthicsL6Legal, ethical and policy concepts, how laws and policies are made, sources of laws and policies, issues affecting LIS (privacy, plagiarism, access, copyright, legal deposit, collection development, libel, freedom of information, gender, data protection).Laws and policies affecting LIS (identification, scope, content, analysis and application).Ethics, morals, values, LIS ethics contextualized, the LIS profession, the professional register, code of ethics for the LIS profession.
Ethics in Records and Archives ManagementE6
Records Management and the LawL7− Introduction to Uganda’s legal system (historical development of Uganda’s legal structure) (including judicial systems)

− Assessment of legal information systems

− Regional and international legal systems (for comparative purposes)

− Selected legislations that relate to records and archives management (directly or implied)

− Emerging legislative issues that relate to records and archives managemento Privacyo Accesso Misuseo Slander, libel and seditiono Intellectual property

− Role of records in legal research including e-discovery and e-discovery support.

− Selected court cases (and the role of documentary evidence)

− Designing of institutional policies that relate to records and archives

− Trends in records and archives standards

− Trends in professional ethics that relate to records and archives management
Information Legislation, Ethics and PolicyL8
Information Science Policy StudiesE7
Received: 2016-4-18
Accepted: 2016-4-18
Published Online: 2016-6-3
Published in Print: 2016-6-1

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