Strong research and teaching at universities relies on good access to up-to-date information, and this, in turn, requires a strong library and information service, with skilled librarians.
Between 2013 and 2016 INASP worked with five African library schools to explore how postgraduate curricula and teaching in library and information science could be improved. The project was a pilot initiative, as part of the Strengthening Research and Knowledge Systems (SRKS) programme.
The project aimed to ensure that professional librarians graduating from the five library schools gained the knowledge to deliver high quality services to support research and teaching.
The project involved library schools at Kenya Methodist University (KeMU), the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in Tanzania, the University of Zambia, Jimma University in Ethiopia and Mzuzu University in Malawi.
INASP worked with university librarians, in their capacity as employers, and international experts to review and update postgraduate LIS courses at these institutions. They introduced teaching staff to new pedagogical approaches and offered them opportunities to update their subject knowledge through continuing professional development (CPD), enabling them to teach new and evolving subjects in the curricula.
During the first two years of the project raised awareness among library school staff about gaps in knowledge and skills, provided a degree of pedagogy support, and reinforced the review of curricula,
- Curriculum review workshops were held to consider and improve the overall balance and content of the syllabus, and to put a process a regular review process in place.
- Pedagogy workshops were held to strengthen the teaching skills of academic staff. During the project, it became clear that curricula needs to focus not only on developing students’ technical expertise, but also supporting them to become critical thinkers and future library
- Continuing professional development. During the design of the project, INASP identified a need to support lecturing staff to develop their skills and knowledge in key aspects of library and information science. A CPD strand was therefore incorporated into the project.
- The project resulted in improvements to library curricula in each school.
- Teaching staff developed greater awareness of new pedagogy.
- In some schools, efforts to improve curricula led to greater interest from and stronger relationships with university management.
The initial two year pilot successfully ‘opened the eyes’ of participants and increased awareness of the commitment needed to make significant improvements to postgraduate courses. The three components of support–curricula review, pedagogy training and CPD—were deemed relevant, but some changes were needed to CPD approaches for this stream to be effective.