Information Literacy Should Be Included In Curriculum Of Students –Anigala

By Anthony Arugbaba
Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, was agog last week as the Nigerian Library Association (NLALA), Delta State Chapter, held its annual conference/general meeting with the theme, “Information Literacy for Sustainable Development in Nigeria.” This theme is apt considering the fact that a lot of skills, knowledge and strategies are required for maximum provision of information and utilisation of information by individuals in this digital age.
The skills to identify, evaluate and use information is learnt over a period of time. Also, studying and understanding the basis of using information tools is very helpful to carry out research. Students are engaged with research and a lot of assignments with high expectation from their teachers to come up with quality research papers and findings. Students are also required to carry out in-depth research since their final work (thesis and dissertations) are scrutinized and tailored to answer questions which invariably provide solution to problems identified by the researchers.
In our individual lives, we make decisions concerning every aspect of our lives, be it political, social, religious, and economic and to be able to make better choices in these areas, we need information.
Information literacy has received increasing academic attention since the mid-1970s, particularly in the USA and Australia, as a theoretical and practical response to the cultural, social and economic developments associated with the information society. Information literacy is broadly defined as the ability to find, retrieve, analyse and use information. Two concepts that are often associated with or confused with the term “’information literacy”’ are ‘’computer literacy’’ and ‘’media literacy.’’ There are, however, important differences that we need to take note of.
Computer literacy: Computer literacy is the knowledge and the ability to use computers and related technology efficiently. In our current technological environment, it is important to be computer literate. However, even though you may be computer literate and know how to use information and communication technologies (ICT), you may not have the knowledge or skills to find the information you need to use that information effectively. To do this well, you need specific information literacy skills and competencies.
Media literacy: Media literacy is defined “’as the ability to access, analyse, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of formats, from print to video to the internet. The focus of media literacy is on understanding the role of media in society.
Information literacy, therefore, provides one with a way of knowing and making sense of the world around us and thus enables us to meet the increasing demands of modern life. Information literacy and lifelong learning have a strategic, mutually reinforcing relationship with each other that is critical to the success of every individual, organisation, institution, and nation in the global information society. These two paradigms should be properly harnessed to work symbiotically and synergistically if people and institutions are to successfully survive and compete in the 21st Century and beyond.
Speaking at the event in Abraka, the keynote speaker who doubles as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Prof. Austine Anigala, argued that a seminal event in the development of the concept of information literacy was the establishment of the American Library Association’s Presidential Committee on information literacy whose final report in 1989, outlined the importance of the concept.
He listed some of the final reports of the committee to include “to recognize that accurate and complete information is the basis for intelligent decision making; recognise the need for information; formulate questions based on information needs; identify potential sources of information; develop successful search strategies; access sources of information including computer-based and other technologies” among others.
He said: “It has become increasingly clear that students cannot learn everything they need to know in their field of study in a few years in the universities. Information literacy equips them with the critical skills necessary to become independent lifelong learners.
“As the ALA’s committee says “ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn”. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organised, how to find information and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.
“Information literacy is important particularly in this age because it allows us to cope by giving us the skills to know when we need information and where to locate it effectively and efficiently. It includes the technological skills needed to use the modern library as a gateway to information. It enables us to analyze and evaluate the information we find, thus giving us confidence in using that information to make a decision or create a product. The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for undergraduate students in universities.”
The keynote speaker held that sheer abundance of information would not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively, noting that Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning.
Anigala said: “It is common to all disciplines, all learning environments, and all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.
“Developing lifelong learners is central to the mission of higher education institutions like universities by ensuring that individuals have the intellectual abilities of reasoning and critical thinking, and by helping them construct a framework for learning how to learn.
“Colleges and universities provide the foundation for continued growth throughout their careers as well as in their roles as informed citizens and members of communities. Information literacy is a key component of, and contributor to lifelong learning. Information literacy competency extends learning beyond formal classroom settings and provides practice with self-directed investigations as individuals move into internship, first professional positions, and increasing responsibilities in all areas of life.
“Gaining skills in information literacy multiplies the opportunities for students’ self-directed learning as they become engaged in using a wide variety of information sources to expand their knowledge, ask informed questions, and sharpen their critical thinking for further self-directed learning.
“To take advantage of problem-based learning, individuals must often use thinking skills requiring them to become skilled users of information sources in many locations and formats, thereby increasing their responsibility for their own learning. To obtain the information they seek for their investigations, individuals have many options. One is to utilise an information retrieval system such as may be found in a library or in databases accessible by computer from any location.
“As students progress through their undergraduate years, they need to have repeated opportunities for seeking, evaluating and managing information gathered from multiple sources and discipline-specific research method.”
Anigala expressed the confidence that the conference would provide the requisite platform to x-ray the issues surrounding information literacy for sustainable development in all ramifications. He called for the inclusion of information literacy into the curriculum of students, stressing that it would help them during their educational sojourn and even after completion of formal education.
In his address, the Chairman of NLALA, Delta State Chapter, Mr. Ogochukwu Emiri said that the advocacy programmes of his administration has shot the NLA into limelight in Delta State to produce a formidable group in the state and the need for cohesion and cooperative existence of the body.
He called on the state Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Commissioner for Higher Education, well meaning Deltans, educational practitioners and all lovers of the library to join the association to develop libraries in the state, and in turn, create a brighter future for children in Delta.
Emiri noted that its vision of making the association viable in the state, prompted the executive committee to scout for persons in the state who have supported and propagated the cause of building an informed citizenry in the state, for recognition awards as ambassadors of library development.
He said, inter-alia: “ The search chip of the association sailed round and could not, but stop over, at seeing the dossier of a renowned and respected scholar, the Vice-Chancellor of DELELSU, Abraka, Prof. Victor Peretomode and Member representing Isoko South constituency, Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Orezi Esievo and Martha Charity Foundation for their roles in developing the library over the years. We believe this award will spur them to do more in this direction.”
Ogochukwu expressed confidence that the communique from the conference would be a veritable document to assist the government in packaging libraries in the state to justify their place in the education of “Our children and the Nigerian nation.”
While commending the Orodje of Okope, HRM, Maj.-Gen. Felix Mujakperuo (rtd) Orhue 1, Prof. Peretomode the Director of Library Services, PTI, Effurun, Mr. Richard Obache, University Librarian of DELELSU, Prof. Steven Uwaifo, all members of the Local OrganiSing Committee (LOC) and those who made the conference a resounding success, the NLA chairman prayed that God would bless them richly.
Highpoint of the event is the presentation of awards to deserving individuals, interactive session, cutting of the NLA 2017 hosting cake among other side attractions.

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