A Framework for Preserving and Managing Indigenous Knowledge Using Mobile Phones Case Study: Kampala District (Uganda)
Author: Julius Connery Kamugasa
Supervisor: Richard Ssembatya
This study was about proposing a framework which can be used in the preservation and management of indigenous knowledge with the use of mobile phones as an information and communication technology (ICT) enabler in Uganda. The degree at which indigenous knowledge is endangered today is unprecedented world over more so in developing countries which have generally adopted foreign cultures. The education system, rural urban migration, ways in which indigenous knowledge is transferred from one generation to another, and the association of indigenous knowledge with paganism among others are the reasons threating the existence of indigenous knowledge. Whereas the contribution of indigenous knowledge to sustainable development is undisputable, the fact that it is threatened is real and unless it is addressed, the indigenous communities risk losing their rich IK. The decision to use mobile phones in the preservation and management of indigenous knowledge was inspired by the contribution that mobile phones have had in other fields like agriculture, financial, and medicine to mention but a few. It is also evident that mobile phones are the most used means of communication today, with millions of Ugandans owning at least one phone. The preservation and management of indigenous knowledge will not only boosts the confidence of indigenous communities about the importance of their skills and knowledge but also promote the much sought after sustainable development. Management of indigenous knowledge will also help promote cross cultural understanding among indigenous communities. Three knowledge management frameworks were critically analyzed, and used as a baseline for this study. The strengths and weaknesses of the frameworks were investigated to ascertain whether they can effectively be used to preserve and manage indigenous knowledge using mobile phones. The characteristics of IK were also put in perspective during the analysis. The study used a mixed research approach where both qualitative and quantitative methods were deployed simultaneously during data collection. Qualitative data was gathered through focus groups whereas quantitative data was gathered by using closed ended questions some of which were in questionnaires while others were embedded in the focus group discussion guides. The participants in the study were comprised of ICT policy makers (National information and technology authority – Uganda; NITA-U), local communities and ICT practitioners.
The results from the study indicated that majority of the population, agreed that indigenous knowledge was at the verge of disappearing and unless a purposeful effort was taken, indigenous knowledge would become extinct. Respondents were also in agreement that mobile phones would go a long way in preserving and managing IK.
Based on the findings from the study, a framework was proposed and validated by selected ICT policy makers and practitioners from NITA-U and other private institutions. Recommendations and limitations to the study were presented and future areas for research were also suggested.