University of Fort Hare: Post-graduate Archives and Records Management diploma
The Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Fort Hare has introduced a post-graduate diploma in Archives and Records Management (ARM). The aim of this programme is to provide the requisite professional skills and qualifications to graduates in the management of archives and records in both public and private sector. Entry into the course requires a recognised undergraduate degree. Other equivalent entry qualifications may be considered, including experience of working in the area. The programme is offered residentially as well as to persons in employment. Theoretical components of the course are complemented by applied learning opportunities.
Computer literacy: this module, offered by the Department of Computer Science is intended to ensure that students are computer literate.
History and Theory of Archives: is intended to introduce students to the history, theory and practice of archives and records management. The course content covers key archival concepts and archival management functions.
Archives Administration: is intended to give students basic knowledge of the subject. The course content covers the evolution of archives administration systems and their core components.
Records Management: is intended to introduce students to the fundamental principles of records management. Course content covers all the functions associated with the management of records through their life cycle from creation to disposal or preparation for retrieval in repositories.
Management Studies: is intended to introduce students to the management principles underpinning archival practice. The course content covers theory of management and management techniques within the archives and records management environments.
Conservation and Preservation: introduces students to the skills and techniques used in the conservation and preservation of records and archives. Course content includes a range of preservation measures designed to ensure that archives and records are preserved in appropriate conditions.
The course does not include a module on digitisation. This is a shortcoming, given the importance of digitisation for preservation and access. Apart from this, it is a comprehensive course.
Students are placed as interns at relevant institutions. There they have opportunities to develop skills through observation and practice under the supervision of a member of the teaching staff and an information professional attached to the host institution. This is an integral part of the course and learners are required to demonstrate their ability to accomplish professional tasks assigned to them during the
Apart from the core modules, students are required to select one of the following electives:
Advanced information technology: is intended to introduce students to ways in which technology can be applied in the records management environment. Course content incudes data-base development.
Systems analysis and design: is intended to introduce students to the systems theory approach to information management. Course content includes systems theory, development and tools.
Archives and development: is intended to introduce students to the role of archives and records in development. Course content includes issues relating to good governance, civil rights and management problems that impact on development.
Since the programme started six years ago, more than three hundred students have been trained. From its beginnings with only nine students the class has grown to over 110. This seems to indicate that archives and records management is being taken seriously, and recognised as a profession.
The mix of experienced teaching staff and enthusiastic students has proved to be a winning combination. The programme has attracted students who have been employed as archivists and records managers and found themselves woefully under-equipped to meet the professional challenges of their positions. It has played a role in building capacity in an otherwise poorly capacitated sector. By building a cadre of competent professionals, the programme contributes to raising the level of archives and records management practice. In so doing it contributes to the broader agenda of promoting accountability, one of the cornerstones of democratic government.
Vuyani Booi is the Senior Manager, National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre, University of Fort Hare, and an Archival Platform correspondent.