Kericho To Revamp Library ServicesUniversities must be decolonised and grounded in African realities, experiences for development 

The Kericho County government has allocated Sh10million in the current financial year to help residents and school going children access relevant reading materials at the Kericho Kenya National Library Service (KNLS).

The county Chief Officer for Education, Library, Culture and Social Services Richard Tonui revealed that this is the first step towards revamping the local KNLS facility, whose functions have now been ceded to the county administration.

‘This financial year Sh5 million will be used for renovation and another Sh5 million for purchase of books for the Kericho KNLS facility,’ said Tonui.

Tonui noted that some of the envisaged activities to be done to revamp the library include renovations and making it accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDS) and providing Braille reading materials for the visually impaired.

‘As a department we have had a number of challenges especially in the library section after it was devolved in July this year. The structures in the room were constructed in the 1980
s and that time there was not any compliance from the people who built the library, but we have made a proposal to renovate the facility so that we are able to accommodate people with different disabilities,’ he said.

The Chief Officer encouraged children to embrace reading culture by visiting the Kericho KNLS library where they can access a variety of reading materials to prevent addiction to mobile phones.

‘The library provides a better reading environment and is equipped with diverse reading materials, which can be important for research. We have internet access at the library where both the young and senior citizens can access digital books. Published books provide standard information and this will lower the rate of phone addiction to learners,’ said Tonui.

The commitment by the county government comes after a visually impaired man recounted his frustrations to the media while using the library.

In an interview with KNA, Mzee Andrew Kiprono Chepkwony, 53, a resident of Kipsolu village said he has bee
n using the library for the last 20 years, but added that the facility is not friendly to the visually impaired.

‘I lost my eyesight when I was three years old after a measles attack and my parents enrolled me to Kibos School for the Blind for my primary school education and later proceeded to Thika School for the Blind. I love reading and I am able to keep abreast to both local and international news through reading of Braille books as well as listening to radio.

However, the Kericho library has very old books some dating back to 2008. As a visually impaired person I appeal to the County government to employ one of our own, who will assist us not only in locating our books, but also aiding us around the facility,’ said Chepkwony.

The father of two disclosed that he visits the library twice a week and relished the moments when the Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB) had a program, where they would donate Braille machines to allow visually impaired learners to participate in computer exercises, adding that th
is came to an abrupt end in 2009.

‘I appeal to the county government to enhance access to education through ICT so that individuals, especially those with disabilities and the visually impaired can acquire life changing opportunities in computer skills,’ he added.

The Kericho library, situated along the Kericho-Kisumu highway, opposite the Kericho Green Square Mall was opened to members of the public in 1981.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, a renowned educationist, says for the universities to be more responsive to Ghana’s developmental needs they must be decolonised and grounded in African realities and experiences.

He said they must be re-engineered to embrace the ‘Sankofarian’ principle to integrate African indigenous knowledge systems and epistemologies in the curriculum and knowledge production.

Professor Anamuah-Mensah was speaking at the 21st Congregation of the Methodist University Ghana in Accra on the topic: Decolonising the Mindset in Ghanaian Universities: Is Sankofa an Option?’. 

A total number of 701 students graduated  out of which 143 are Postgraduate students, 498 Undergraduate students, 40 Diploma students and 20 Certificate students.

For the Bachelor’s degrees, 34 had First Class Honours, 162 Second Class Upper, 229 Second Class Lower, 58 Third Class and 15 had ordinary Pass.

There were a total of 13 awards to 12 deserving graduates for their excellent performance, these are made up of 10
undergraduate and three postgraduate students.

Out of these, five are females (receiving six awards) and seven are males.

‘Universities must recognize the value of indigenous knowledge system, its ontology and epistemology,’ he added.

He said the Universities should recognize that the indigenous knowledge system was unique and rich and designed to be ardent consumers of the products of foreign industries instead of being engineered to produce superior goods and services.

Prof Anamuah-Mensah, who was also a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education Winneba, said although Ghanaian Universities, since their set-up had Africanized their academic staff, still continued to develop curricula, and pedagogic structures that were based on borrowed epistemologies that made them look like those in the developed north.

He said in an attempt to become global tended to be institution in outlook, they were foreign to local cultures, populations, and development challenges.

He said being clothed in a deconte
xtualised, colonial mindset, woven through the long history of colonial subjugation, ‘we seem to have developed an attitude of acceptance that devalues our values but celebrates the Western cultural values.’

The Educationist said the people had imbibed Western epistemologies and ignored their own but when there were difficulties, we ran to the wisdom of the old, adding there is an identity crisis.

‘The Akan symbol, Sankofa and its philosophical and epistemological underpinnings offer the best option for creating a decolonized mindset,’ he added.

He said it admonished stakeholders to look to the past to make positive progress in future.

Prof Phillip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, the Vice-Chancellor, MUG said the University had introduced the Professional Engagement Series for professionals to interact with the students to have a feel of the blend of theory and practice.

He said this was to complement the attachments and internships, which were being mainstreamed into every programme. 

The Vice-Chancellor said the
University was being repositioned as a research-intensive one. 

He advised the graduates to be level-headed at all times and embrace life, knowing that in the face of opportunity, setbacks exist; but in the face of setbacks, success was assured with discipline, hard work, focus, perseverance and the fear of God. 

He said learning must be continuous and lifelong and as they leave,  they should do well to come back for their access, top-up, master and PhD programmes and/or the several relevant short courses on offer.

Source: Ghana News Agency