Information Literacy in the 21st Century Universities: The Kenyan Experience
Universities are expected to play a vital role in development issues of their countries and beyond as they engage in teaching, learning and research. The world-wide recognition of information as a key resource to the development of economies in the 21st century places even more responsibility on universities as they are looked upon as major consumers and creators of information touching on all sectors of the economy. Their contribution to develpoment therefore largely depends on how applicable the information they generate through research is relevant to the needs of their immediate communities; as well as on the quality of their graduates, and their contribution towards global information reserves. The introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) by the government of Kenya and its financial support to public secondary school students, coupled with the high demand for university education and high population growth are factors that have led to high ennrolments in the country’s universities. On the other hand, the lack of a national policy on school libraries, the general lack of information literacy programmes in universities, high reliance on the lecture method and the reading-for-exams-only culture are inter-related issues that need to be tackled if the country is to benefit from quality teaching, learning and research. Based on brief literature reviews and the personal experiences through involvement of the author as a teacher-librarian and lecturer and Secretary, Kenya Library Association, this paper gives a general picture of information literacy-related activities in Kenyan universities; and efforts by some stakeholders towards encouragement, adoption and implementation of information literacy efforts in universities in Kenya. Suggestions on the way forward are given.