IFLA SL Newsletter

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Information literacy education and social inclusion

By Genevieve Hart

Since the recent IASL’s conference in Lisbon, I have been pondering how schools’ information literacy programmes might contribute to social inclusion. It was one of the themes signalled in the call for papers and the few resulting presentations gave tantalising glimpses of the possibilities.

Studies across the world have identified risk factors for exclusion, such as poverty, family conflict and school problems. In South Africa, youth might, in itself, be an indicator of exclusion. Young people have the highest rates of unemployment, exposure to violence, and involvement in crime. With 1,100,000 AIDS orphans, child-headed households are in danger of being accepted as normal (The morals of a success story 2006).

The role of libraries, especially in the global information society of 2006, is surely to provide people with access to information so that they might join existing social networks or create new ones. But the mere provision of information is not enough. People need the lifelong skills of information literacy – thus being enabled to make informed decisions to gain control over their lives.

We need to talk more of school libraries in terms of the potential of their information literacy programmes to reach out to families. Here, I am thinking of family education and literacy programmes, ICT education for unemployed youth, small business information sessions, health information workshops, and lots more. The information literacy education will be embedded in other projects and clearly partnerships, inside and outside the school, will be required. Perhaps, if we stressed the role of the library in the community school, which is a concept much liked by our politicians, then we might have more success in our advocacy efforts.

Genevieve Hart
Department of Library & Information Science 
University of the Western Cape


The morals of a success story.  2006.  Sunday Times, 13 August 2006. 

Available: www.sundaytimes.co.za.


January 14, 2007 Posted by | 4. Issue 43, 5. Theme 43: Information Literacy, South Africa | Leave a comment