First level library and/or information science qualifications at South African universities and technikons : a comparative study of curricula.
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The general purpose of the research was to do a comparative study of first level library and/or information science (LIS) qualifications offered at South African universities and technikons. These qualifications included the National Diploma: Library and Information Studies (ND: LIS), the Bachelor of Technology: Library and Information Studies (B.Tech.(LIS)), the Post-graduate Diploma in Library and/or Information Science and the Bachelor of Library and Information Science (B.Bibl.) or equivalent four-year university degree. Self-administered questionnaires were used to survey the views of employers, past students and educators in the LIS field regarding these qualifications and their relevance to the LIS services work environment. Descriptive statistics as well as content analysis were used to analyse the data collected. Discussion of findings based on analysis of data and in the context of related literature, resulted in a number of conclusions. The study supports the view that general education as provided by a university bachelor's degree distinguishes between professional and paraprofessional LIS education and training. The study confirms that the university Post-graduate Diploma in Library and/or Information Science and the B.Bibl. (or equivalent four-year university degree) are established professional LIS qualifications in South Africa. While the technikon ND: LIS is generally viewed as a paraprofessional qualification, LIS services employers are not using this qualification in its paraprofessional context with paraprofessional post designations and career progressions. The technikon B.Tech.(LIS) cannot be viewed as a professional LIS qualification as it lacks general education. Furthermore, it is a qualification in the hierarchy of paraprofessional LIS qualifications that runs parallel to the professional LIS career path and thus the B.Tech.(LIS) is not a step in the direction of LIS professionalism. It is part of an alternative career direction. A further conclusion is that in view of the traditional purpose of technikon education and training vis-a-vis university education and training, limited general education and not extended general education is necessary in the technikon LIS curriculum. The study suggests that the professional LIS body, educators, employers and graduates and diplomates in the LIS field in South Africa have specific roles to play in ensuring understanding that LIS professionalism and paraprofessionalism are alternative or parallel career paths each with its own career progressions and with valuable roles to play in LIS services. However, there should be possibilities for articulation between LIS professionalism and paraprofessionalism at the education and training level.