People’s actions, thoughts and decisions are largely informed by their levels of knowledge and exposure and it’s therefore prudent to heighten investments in making information accessible for all if societies are going to achieve knowledge equity.
Information is power; informed people are able to make informed decisions about issues that affect their day-to-day lives, from the areas of personal and professional development, civic engagement and general knowledge at large.
As the world commemorates the 2021 International Day for Universal Access to Information, there’s a strong emphasis to enhance information laws and their implementation.
The digital world and advances in technology have helped enhance access to information and governments should enforce laws that do not curtail the rights and freedoms of citizens to access information online. The laws to govern the digital space should also factor in the costs of connectivity to ensure that access to internet does not remain a reserve of a select few.
African governments have been notorious of curtailing access to digital media platforms and orchestrating internet shutdowns to curtail freedom of speech and information sharing especially during elections.
In other cases, access to public information from government institutions has remained guarded, which has left citizens without adequate information they need to stay informed and hold public officials to account.
Institutions and individuals keen on sharing public information to enhance knowledge should also consider the language in which information is packaged to ensure that it’s accessible to all.
Translating information to vernacular and indigenous languages and not limiting it to only the internationally recognized languages is a key way of removing language barrier to enhance access to information and knowledge.
It’s also important for information especially around key issues such as healthcare, rights and freedoms and civic engagement to be disseminated without industry jargons that might make it difficult to comprehend.
Knowledge equity and universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and share information.
According to Wikipedia, which has been keen on championing Knowledge equity, the concept developed from the discipline of knowledge management.
Education is one of the fundamental ways to achieve knowledge equity in our society. This ensures that people not only have the information but also the skills and mental aptitude to interrogate and analyze the information they consume.
It’s also through education that people get the skills and tools to also be creators of information.
Access to information is not only a basic human right but also an important tool for promoting the rule of law and ensuring other rights as well.