Information Sciences Education in Morocco: Give them roots, give them wings
Founded in 1974, the Ecole des Sciences de l'Information (ESI) is the only Moroccan institution which trains information science specialists. Its creation was prompted by a survey conducted by the Centre National de Documentation in 1971, in which the lack of a professional standard for information management qualifications was noted. When it was founded, ESI had set for itself the objective "to form professionals in special libraries, archival management and library sciences who have the competencies needed to work with collection management, processing, and dissemination of scientific and technical information."1 As part of its international relations initiatives, ESI has concluded cooperative agreements with national and international educational programs and organizations, including partnerships with organizations in francophone countries (France, Senegal, Canada, Belgium) and other countries such as Sweden, Spain, Denmark, the United States, and Great Britain.
Collaborative agreements with educational institutions in francophone countries include the Ecole de Bibliothéconomie et des Sciences de l'Information in Montréal (Canada), the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l'Information et des Bibliothèques (France), and the Ecole de Bibliothécaires, Archivistes et Documentalistes de l'Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Sénégal). These agreements provide ESI and the institutions in other countries with a structure to facilitate collaborative work, undertake shared research projects, and exchange faculty, students, and documentation. Innovation in curriculum development and in research is a major concern of ESI's administrators and faculty.
To meet this goal, in 2005 ESI initiated a program which involves new information professionals (employed in the public or private sector) in the development of the curriculum and the overseeing of research projects. ESI defined a list of expected competencies nation-wide in the various domains of information sciences. It called on Moroccan information specialists who possess the competencies to create these modules working with permanent faculty. These professionals are expected to utilize their own work experience and case studies in the teaching of their subject specialties to reinforce the theoretical concepts covered by permanent faculty. This approach has been successful and is congruent with ESI's desire to emphasize the practical applications of the curriculum. It enables ESI to enrich the modules it offers to students and to develop its research and development component.
Using my knowledge and practical experience as Information Specialist in the private sector, I have had the opportunity to participate in this program with Professor Mouna Benslimane. My contributions to the module on competitive intelligence focused on strategic awareness practices and assessment of intelligence tracking of strategic information. The learning experience of the ESI students has been greatly enhanced by my ability to share my knowledge of competitive intelligence services. The involvement of recent graduates in the curriculum is a new but very successful venture for ESI. Through the implementation of the project, the school administration is constantly adding a fresh perspective to its program. Lamyaa Belmekki is a Personal Member of CIFNAL. 1 AKESBI, R. Le métier d’informatiste : crise d’identité, crise d'image? Mémoire de fin d'études. Rabat, ESI, 2003.