Guidelines and standards for records management education and training: a model for Anglophone Africa

Date01 December 2001
Published date01 December 2001
AuthorPatrick Ngulube
Guidelines and standards for
records management education
and training: a model for
Anglophone Africa
This article gives an overview of education and training of records managers in
anglophone Africa and then focuses on standards for training of archivist and
records managers. Using South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework and
the South African Qualifications Authority guidelines, a training model that can
be used elsewhere in Africa with some adjustments is suggested. The article
recognises that there can be no one set of universally standard desirable out-
comes for all educational institutions, as the outcomes must depend on the insti-
tution’s nature and mission. Whilst the teaching and learning processes may
differ between countries, there should be a substantial commonality in the out-
comes achieved. Thus it would be possible to have generic processes of assess-
ment and accreditation. Adherence to standards is key to the generic process of
accreditation and professional mobility.
Context and background
Education and training are concerned with the development of knowl-
edge, skills, and attributes necessary for individuals to live meaningfully
and to contribute positively to society. In fact, education and training
are key to developing life-long skills and expertise (Yusof and Chell
1998, 25). However, most African countries have paid little attention to
the training of archivists and records managers (Mnjama 1996, 31).
Records management, with its concern for the creation, organisation,
storage, retrieval, distribution, retirement and final disposal of records
irrespective of their format and media, to a great extent, hinges on
records managers with necessary skills and knowledge to deal with the
records at every stage of their use by society.
Records Management Journal, vol. 11, no. 3, December 2001, pp. 155–173
In the past, poor records management systems have been blamed for
uninformed decision-making processes, dubious policies, poor gover-
nance, destruction of corporate and societal documentary memory and
failure to verify actions and performance of organisations. The
Ghanaian Secretary of Education argued that poor records management
was one of the major causes of inefficiency and the implementation of
policies that lacked continuity by many governments in Africa (Sturges
2000, 219). It is evident that records are key to efficiency, continuity and
development. Education and training are fundamental underpinnings for
improving the management of records and archives in anglophone
It is apparent from Appendix I and the modules that are being offered
in records management in many tertiary institutions in anglophone
Africa that education is inadequate and absolutely fragmented.
Fragmentation isevident within countries and throughout anglophone
Africa. A survey carried out in eastern and southern Africa by Kangulu
(2000) echoed the same sentiments. However, the lack of a harmonized
approach in educating records managers is not peculiar to anglophone
Africa. The study conducted by Yusof and Chell (1998, 31) acknowl-
edged that it was a worldwide problem.
Be that as it may, the notion of harmonization raises the question as to
whether there should be some basic training for all records managers.
The question is not directly tackled here, save for pointing out that pro-
fessional education, regardless of definition, has a common content rele-
vant to the profession (Ngulube 2001). The concerns of records
management are more or less similar to those of information science in
so far as they both deal with:
“the properties and behaviour of information, the forces governing
the flow of information, and the means of processing information for
optimum accessibility and usability. It is concerned with that body of
knowledge relating to the origination, collection, organization, stor-
age, retrieval, interpretation, transmission, transformation, and uti-
lization of information.” (Borko 1968, 3).
Implicit from the above quotation is the claim that records management
has a body of common knowledge that forms the basis of organising
information contained in the records created and used by society. No
records manager worth their salt can claim to be a professional without
that core of knowledge. That being the case, it means that it is indeed
possible to have common content and a generic qualification in records
Records Management Journal vol. 11 no. 3

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