Legal Considerations of Providing Information in Support of Distance Learning by Digital Libraries in Universities in Kenya

Legal Considerations of Providing Information in Support of Distance Learning by Digital Libraries in Universities in Kenya

Japhet Otike (Moi University, Kenya)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0296-8.ch003


This paper examines the legal challenges librarians managing university libraries in Kenya experience when providing information services in support of distance learning. Kenya is experiencing enormous socio-economic changes. These changes have exerted serious pressure on higher education resulting to phenomenal expansion of university education. Unfortunately, the demand for university education has not translated into infrastructural expansion of universities. While university intake continues to grow at an alarming rate, funding for universities including libraries continue to diminish. An option taken by many universities to meet increased demand for higher education has been to invest in distance education. This option has its own challenges. Distance learning like residential programmes, require adequate financial investment in print and electronic information resources; and ICT infrastructure. Since libraries in Kenya are underfunded, they are compelled to reproduce the scarce materials available with them to serve distant learners as opposed to acquiring additional materials. This arrangement has equally serious challenges. Top on the list is copyright infringement. Without adequate exceptions and limitations to copyright restrictions, university authorities and librarians are likely to be charged for infringement.
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Distance Learning In Kenya

Distance learning is a mode of educational delivery where the instructor and the learner are separated by space and time; the instructions are delivered through specially designed materials and methods, supported by organizational and administrative structures; and arrangements. It uses a combination of learning methods varying from print, non-print to internet resources.

Distance learning is not new on the African continent and in Kenya in particular. It is something that existed long before independence. However, the kind of distance learning that existed in the pre-independence days was different from the one that exists presently. In the pre-independence days, it was conducted through correspondence by schools stationed essentially in Britain. Students were given modules complete with course packs to study. At the end of each topic, students were given questions to attempt. In the present era, many of these programmes are conducted by universities. A number of universities particularly public universities, have embraced this option as the most cost effective way of meeting increased demand for university education without spending heavily on physical infrastructure such as student hostels and classrooms. In Kenya, Kenyatta University leads in this approach. It is argued that much of the funds solicited from the government goes to the welfare of students, namely, providing adequate bed space, sporting and other recreation facilities. Distance learning can save this by investing the funds into academic programmes such as libraries, ICTs and improving on the quality of staff essential for its success.

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