Education for information professionals in Bangladesh: a case study of the University Of Dhaka.

Author:Rahman, Jakaria A.I.M.
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

Professional competence is achieved through University education. University is the place where the root of knowledge in a field of study is fabricated. It is also the forum where research and professional queries begin. As such, the curriculum is not only for the forming of knowledge but also for the forming of attitudes, academic and professional approaches. The impact of a departmental curriculum is far greater than the mere transfer of knowledge. Syllabus or courses of studies are one-dimensional document that embody the subjects and contents outline with broad time allocation. Curriculum is three-dimensional, and takes into account the needs of the society, students, professions and the instructional methodology (Karisiddappa and Sangam, 1994). The objective is to describe the course content or what is being studied. It is a blueprint that provides fundamental guidelines for a department on: what is study; why; when; where and how it is to be studied; who should study and how the courses of studies are to be evaluated and trainees' assessed (Ocholla, 2000).

The use of ICT has transformed a modern library into an electronic library providing access to information from local and remote databases through Internet and/or Intranet, CD Networks, e-books, e-journals, computerized in-house library operations such as acquisition, classification, cataloguing, circulation serial control, barcoding, etc. The concepts such as 'Library without walls', 'Virtual Library', 'Electronic Library' and 'Digital Library' have already come to light. New technologies have heralded not only new ways of handling information but also introduced new formats. Information started detaching itself from just the print format. Diverseness in format has created an independence of thought in approaching it. These changes transfigured the library education and obligated the professionals to prepare themselves for the coming era.

How do these changes affect education for library and information science? If professional values are changing minimally, professional parameters slowly and information technology rapidly, it follows that education of information professionals has to reflect minimal change, moderate change and total change - all at once! (Gorman, 1999). Educating information professionals for the future can be determined by examining what skills will be required by library information professionals to enable them to adapt new and changing demands in society (Wagner, 2000). There is a need to educate and train students to the best contemporary standards in terms of curricular aims and contents, teaching methodologies, assessment practices and quality control. Modularisations of the studies and their harmonisation with actual needs of the running library and information centres are required. A standard formal library education should have devoted faculty members, well-resourced department, and scientifically liable curriculum indicating clear relationship between theory and practice, an enthusiastic and hard-working student body, management of training units. There should also be suitable classrooms, practical room, computer laboratories and computer and/or electronic equipment, suitable organizational placing, effective communication among all, and an emphasis on continuing education as community service. The University of Dhaka has played a key role for the development and provision of library education in Bangladesh. As professional, the future is never far from our thoughts, but the changes and challenges of the new millennium give a special reason to re-examine where we are coming from and where should be heading. An attempt has made here to scrutinize the bachelor program's syllabus of library education of the University since its inception of bachelor program.

Present Scenario of Library Education in Bangladesh

Library education is offered in different levels like Certificate, Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD), Bachelor, Master, MPhil and PhD. University of Dhaka is offering four-year bachelor (honors), one-year master, two-year master (evening), two-year MPhil and three-year PhD programs. University of Rajshahi is offering the same. University of Science & Technology Chittagong is offering certificate program, which has been designed by giving emphasis on Library Assistant of medical libraries only (Islam and Chowdhury, 2006). International Islamic University of Chittagong is offering one-year PGD program. Royal University of Dhaka has introduced two-year MSc in library management & information science. Darul Ihsan University is offering one-year PGD and two-year (4 semesters) MA program. Asian University of Bangladesh is offering two-year MSS in information science & library management from the year 2008.

The above table shows different types of courses in library education are available in Bangladesh.

Library Association of Bangladesh (LAB, estd. 1956) has affiliated eleven institutions to conduct the certificate program in different places in Bangladesh. Fifteen institutions with the affiliation of National University conduct post-graduate diploma program. Besides, nine colleges are offering library and information science as an optional subject in BA (Pass) program. Among them Lalmatia Mohila College is offering four-year BA (honors) and two-year MA programs. Under the National University, ninety-nine teachers training colleges (14 govt. & 85 non-govt.) are offering Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Education (BEd) with honors and Master of Education (MEd) programs (BANBEIS, 2008). In these programs library and information science has been included as an optional subject bearing one hundred marks in respective syllabuses (National University, 2009).

Development of Library Education at the University of Dhaka

University of Dhaka is the first ever university to establish a full-fledged department for library education in Bangladesh. Not only this, the inception of library science education in Bangladesh has been done by this university. The first three-month certificate program in librarianship started at the central library of the University in 1952. Considering the usefulness of the program, the university authority made a provision for organizing of certificate program in librarianship under the Faculty of Arts (Khorasani, 1986). This regular three months program thus started with the assistance of the Fulbright scholars and was called "Fulbright Course in Librarianship". Four Fulbright courses were conducted successively under the supervision of the then librarian of University of Dhaka, during 1955 -59 (Ahmed, 1994). The University then suspended the Fulbright certificate course, which ultimately led to the opening of one-year PGD program from the session 1959-60 based on the University of London model (Ahmed, 1981).

In 1962, a one-year Master of Arts (MA) program in library science was formulated for PGD passed students as provided in the university ordinance and regulation, chapter XXIV, Part XII (University of Dhaka, 1962). From the academic session 1962-63 with the services of distinguished American, British as well as eminent librarians of the country, the MA program was started on more extensive scale. The session 1964-65 is the milestone for the notable extension in the history of library education in Bangladesh as the programs and courses were recognized as full-fledged 'Department of Library Science' under the Faculty of Arts (University of Dhaka, 1965). In the session 1974-75, the University approved a two-year long Master of Philosophy (MPhil) program (University of Dhaka, 1974). However, it commenced from the 1 July of 1975-76 session (University of Dhaka, 1976). At the fag end of the session 1975-76, the University approved two-year MA program instead of one-year. Moreover, from the session 1978 -79, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in library science was launched (University of Dhaka, 1978). During the session 1987-88, a three-year undergraduate program, Bachelor of Arts (honors) in library and information science was started (University of Dhaka, 1988), and the one-year post-graduate diploma program stopped. The department's name change as "Library and Information Science".

To spread library education, library and information science as a subsidiary subject in degree (pass course) was introduced by the University for its affiliated colleges from the session 1991-92 (University of Dhaka, 1990). Again the university introduced one-year MA from the session 1990-91, instead of two-year program, for its own library and information science graduate students only (University of Dhaka, 1995). In the session 1997-98, instead of the three-year program, the University initiated a four-year BA (honors) program in information science and library management (University of Dhaka, 1999). In the session 1999-2000 the four-year bachelor program was declared as the professional degree with effect from the 1997-98 session (University of Dhaka, 2000). From the session 2001-02, the department adorned with a new name 'Information Science and Library Management' (University of Dhaka, 2001). The University started two-year MA (evening) program from the session 2004-05 and introduced semester system instead of year course system for BA (honors) program from the session 2006-07. Currently, there are fourteen full-time faculty members, four part-time, and one supernumerary professor in the Department. Among them, eight have PhD degree and others have master degree. One faculty member obtained his PhD from UK, one from India, and another one from South Africa. Beyond this, one is pursuing PhD in Japan. Since the establishment of the Department, nearly 1200 students get BA (honors), 2000 students have MA, eight persons get MPhil, and eleven persons have been awarded PhD until December 2010. Most of the students who have passed are working in senior positions in various libraries in Bangladesh.

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