This first issue of the East African Journal of Information Science (EAJIS) has been possible courtesy of several prayers within the Editorial Board and the authors. The Editorial Board comprises of faculty members from Kenyatta, Chuka and Kisii universities, Kenya Methodist University and Technical University of Kenya. Dr. David Trefas from the University of Basel has been very instrumental in editing the articles as well as nudging the team to go on despite many odds. The Editorial and Advisory Boards feel greatly indebted for his exemplary service and commitment to the progress of the journal. Other notable contributors are Mr. John Thuku and Mr. Muthami Wanjiru form the Post Modern Library (PML) for their instrumental role in designing the journal. This first issue is dedicated to the theme ‘publish now or perish” and targets scholars and graduate students who for one reason or the other have not engaged in constructive publishing. The theme is a call to all faculty members in Kenyan Universities to engage in publishing. There is very little publishing going on in Kenya. This is despite the massive scholarly debates and research work conducted by graduate students in Kenya.
Articles Covered in this 1st Issue of East African Journal of Information Science No. 1 March 2018.
This first issue of EAJIS has featured five articles written by various authors, individually or jointly. The first article is authored by Gatimu Winfred and Daniel Muthee. The article was initially presented in a graduate seminar by the two authors. It basically addresses the challenges experienced by women attempting to access health information. Health information is instrumental in promotion of health literacy and is a major concern in Kenya, East Africa and the rest of the world. Women particularly in rural areas experience several untold challenges emanating from their traditional and cultural backgrounds, literacy levels and poverty. It is instructive to note that women bear the blunt of health issues in most of the societies. It is generally accepted that men have poor information seeking behavior regarding their health and that of their families. This therefore puts women as the gate keepers of their family’s health. This link leads to the article.
The second article by Fridah Gatwiri addresses the issues of accessibility and use of assistive technology by persons with visual impairments. The article once more was presented in a graduate school seminar at Kenyatta University and was as a result of a qualitative study conducted at Kenyatta University PML. Visual impairment is widely experienced by people living within the tropics such as Kenya. One of the significant study findings is that assistive technologies are out of reach to most persons experiencing visual impairments due to the prohibitive costs. Lack of assistive technologies and low literacy levels among persons with visual impairments reduces their accessibility to resources linked to the various webs. This link leads to the article.
The third article is authored by Felicitas Ratanya and D. W. Muthee. Among the paper objectives was the need to establish levels of awareness, utilization and accessibility to the institutional resources academic staff. Generally, institutional repositories are a fairly recent development in Kenya. Institutional repositories are today regarded as the backbone of institutional resources and therefore, awareness, access and utilization of their resources by all persons is a critical aspect in regard to work performance of the users. Unfortunately, the findings of the study showed low awareness and utilization of institutional resources. This link leads to the article..
The author of the fourth article is Salome Muhinja ans Dr. Caroline Mutwiri. The paper was presented at a Graduate School seminar in Kenyatta University. The article is about adoption involvement of academic libraries in development, use and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OERs) in Kenya. OERs are indispensable learning resources particularly in the modern age characterized by digital/e-learning. Despite the penetration of OERs as sources of information in Kenya and the world at large, their adoption and consumption still remains low in Kenya. Academic libraries could play a pivotal role in promotion of OERs. This link leads to the article.
The fifth article is written by Gouadia Gwadeba. It was as a result of his presentation in the graduate school seminar. The paper focus is Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) among Pokot women of Tana River County. The paper pre-supposes that there are some traditional practices that are not harmful! The key objectives in the paper are an identification and appraisal of HTPs and determination of the role of information literacy in the fight against HTPs. Among the HTPs identified are Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages for girls and therefore denying them schooling. The paper establishes the need for promotion of lifelong learning and enhancement of literacy as a way of curbing growth of HTPs. This link leads to the article.
Information Access to Women and Disadvantaged Users
This first issue of the East African journal of Information Science explores topics facing women and other disadvantaged users in accessing information. Women and the physically challenged information users are extremely vulnerable. Most of the women and physically challenged persons are found in the rural areas where the infrastructure and information systems heavily tilted towards promotion of male hegemony. This sorry and unexpected tilt in the 21st century exists despite the fact that the women population form 50.02% of the total population in Kenya, slightly more than men (World Bank Report, 2017).
This is in contrast to the physically challenged person’s population which forms 4.6% of the total population. It is believed that one in every ten persons in Kenya is disabled or experiences some form of disabilities. Many communities and families have little regard for disabled persons. Some families would rather take to school and buy literacy resources for the stronger unchallenged family members. This could be due to the high cost and myths associated with disabilities and assistive technologies. Information access to persons with disabilities is at its lowest levels in Kenya. It is made by the fact that majority of the persons with disabilities live in the rural areas with little physical and literacy infrastructures.
The challenges facing women and the physically challenged persons in Kenya are real and far from the UN Universal Declaration on Information Access to all persons regardless of gender, race, religious and physical wellbeing. It is further compounded by the fact that most of the women and physically challenged persons are poor, illiterate and have no gainful employment. This poor state makes it difficult for them to access the basic information including the information that pertains to their hygiene, child rearing, reproductive health and career development. Traditional and cultural beliefs and expectations prey heavily on them. In some communities in East Africa, the place of the women is in the kitchen and the physically disabled are as a result of curses. Information access therefore becomes a tool for the men and the strong.
There exist widespread discrimination against women and physically disabled in information access. However, there have been deliberate proactive efforts in form of legislated Affirmative Action geared towards promotion of information access among women and physically challenged persons. This is commendable effort intended to address the existing disparities among the different gender and persons with physical challenges. At least this is part of the panacea for increasing information access to the disadvantaged. This will be in addition to development of sustainable information systems for the vulnerable persons as advocated in some of the articles.
Kenya National Survey for Persons with Disabilities: Preliminary Report March 2008.
Sarah Kibugi (2013): The Use of Social Media in Dissemination of Information in Selected Public and Private Universities in Kenya: Innovation Journal of Appropriate Librarianship and Information Work in Southern Africa.
UN Declaration of Universal Access to Information.
World Bank report (2015).
World Bank Report (2017).