A Critical Analysis of the Equity of LIS Education Programs in Sri Lanka

Article excerpt

A major study involving critical analysis of library and information science (LIS) education in Sri Lanka was carried out by the author covering the 2004-2007 period, and the equity of LIS education discussed in this paper was one element of the larger study. The study on equity has three objectives: (1) to provide a brief introduction to the LIS education programs and the institutions which offer those programs in Sri Lanka; (2) to analyze critically the equity of the LIS programs; and (3) to make recommendations for improvement. Four principal methods were used to collect the data required for the main research; semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, review of relevant documents, and participatory observations by the researcher. Four criteria, namely gender, income, geographic region and language, were used to analyze the equity of LIS education programs. Findings of the study established that there is a gender imbalance in the LIS programs with 80% to 90% female students, that an income inequity is evident, that there is a severe inequity in the regional distribution and language of the programs. The paper makes several recommendations to reduce these inequities and makes suggestions for further research.

Introduction

This paper reports research findings representing one element of a major study on the critical analysis of library and information science (LIS) education in Sri Lanka conducted by the author during the 2004-2007 period. The main study concentrated on seven aspects of LIS education: (1) the number and types of LIS education programs presently conducted in Sri Lanka; (2) educational institutions that offer LIS education programs; (3) course contents; (4) teaching and assessment methods; (5) the relevance of programs to emerging information sector needs; (6) demographic characteristics of the teaching faculty and their research and publications; and (7) infrastructure facilities (classroom and library facilities, teaching/learning equipment and institutional guidance available for students). While the author expects to publicize the results of these different aspects studied as individual papers in the near future, the findings of the analysis of the equity of LIS education programs currently conducted in Sri Lanka is presented in this article.

For the benefit of international readers, a brief socioeconomic introduction to the country and a summary of the current LIS education programs in Sri Lanka are provided in the following subsections. Section two contains a review of related literature while the research methodology is presented in section three. Equity of LIS education in Sri Lanka is critically analyzed in section four while the paper concludes with the discussion and recommendations in section five.

Sri Lanka

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island with an area of 65,610 square kilometers (25,332 square miles) in the Indian Ocean about 28 kilometers (18 miles) away from the southeastern coast of India. Sri Lanka currently has a population of nearly 19 million and is divided into three community sectors: urban (14.6%), rural (80.0%) and estate1 (5.4%). Population by ethnicity consists of Sinhalese (82%), Sri Lankan Moor (7.9%), Indian Tamils (5.1 %), Sri Lankan Tamils (4.3%) and others (0.7%). The labor force (which is the economically active population) is 46.6% of the total population.2 The country is divided into nine administrative provinces as shown in Figure 1.

Present education system of Sri Lanka consists of four stages: (1) early childhood development stage for children of 3-4 years, (2) primary and secondary education for children of 5-10 years (Grades 1-5) and 11-18 years (Grades 6-13) respectively, (3) vocational training and technical education and (4) tertiary education.4 Unlike many other developing countries, Sri Lanka has been able to reduce disparities in literacy between males and females, and the 2001 survey indicated that the female literacy rate was 89. …

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