An investigation into the awareness and preparedness of the Inkandla and Mbazwana school clusters concerning sharing of information resources.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the awareness and preparedness of the Inkandla and Mbazwana school clusters concerning the sharing of information resources. This investigation needs to be viewed bearing in mind the contexts of developing countries. These countries are poor but experience varying degrees of poverty, and there is always a shortage of funds to support quality assuring programmes, for example libraries. Access to amenities like laboratories and libraries is generally viewed as a luxury, more so by people who went through their education deprived of these facilities but who managed nevertheless to obtain high qualifications. The argument tends to be "some of us made it without libraries, therefore they are not important". Unfortunately many policymakers think like this. There have always been sectors pushing for the development of school libraries, coupled with resource based learning as this approach is regarded as likely to produce independent, lifelong learners. A resource based curriculum requires an abundance of resources, however the issue of lack of funding referred to above, may prevent any individual school from having all the resources required to support a resource based curriculum. Creative ways of ensuring the availability of resources to all schools have been conceived and clustering schools in order to encourage them to share resources and expertise is one of them. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education has used the clustering of schools for resource sharing. The evolution of the clustering project however, took different forms and subsequent events showed that the form taken either allowed for further growth and development, or subjected the project to failure and decay. The Inkandla and Mbazwana scenarios, presented two different models and different evolutionary histories that present interesting topics for research, and both scenarios had different stories to tell. Issues of acceptance, that is awareness and preparedness, accessibility, and community dynamics play a major role in ensuring the success or failure of a project; and this is very evident in Mbazwana and Inkandla. This study attempted to measure the levels of awareness and preparedness concerning the sharing of information resources. Preparatory ground work among communities was necessary to ensure the people were willing to embrace the concept of resource sharing and its values. Three methods were selected as appropriate to the study that is reviewing the relevant literature and data collection by questionnaire and interview schedule. Two nodal points were studied, one at Inkandla and another at Mbazwana. Stratified sampling with ten respondents from each cluster was used to make the sample representative. Since the study needed to establish the levels of awareness and preparedness by these cluster members as well as nodal schools of the clustering concept, it emerged from the study that there are two types of awareness, that is, awareness of the vision, and awareness of the centres or nodal points and their resources. Responses concerning awareness of the vision yielded a variety of results because the levels of awareness differed from individual to individual, and it is the levels of awareness that eventually determine levels of preparedness to embrace the concepts, ultimately affecting the use and non-use of the centres. The study revealed that even though the concept has numerous challenges, the population studied was not generally averse to the concept, however, a lot of preparatory work needs to be done prior to setting up such projects. Once set up careful monitoring and a timely response to problems is important for the sustainability of these centres.
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