Commodifying knowledge is criminal – Founding Dean of Makerere University’s Law School

Commodifying knowledge is criminal – Founding Dean of Makerere University’s Law School

Multidisciplinary scholar and Professor at Makerere University’s Law School, Sylvia Namuddu Rosila Tamale, has opined that treating knowledge as a commercial commodity is criminal.

According to the Academic and Sociologist, researchers build upon previous scholarly works while publishing recent journal articles and textbooks.

She explained, as a result that, knowledge should not be commodified but rather made “freely” accessible to everyone.

“You go out to interview people, you use the knowledge they have given you to publish, to obtain credentials and then you also want to gain monetary from that knowledge. It is not really your knowledge. You put it together but that knowledge should be accessed freely by everyone in my view.

You are building onto others’ works so this should not be commodified. We must resist it, it is criminal in my view,” Prof. Tamale said.

Speaking at the second edition of the Anton Wilheilm Amo Lecture at the University of Ghana, she shared how owners of journals economically benefits from their venture as compared to authors of scholarly articles.

Her lecture at the premier University’s Great Hall, was focused on the theme “Decolonising knowledge production in Africa”.

When asked, should Africa continue with the colonial way of examinations, she responded with a resounding no.

Prof. Tamale called for the scrap of that method of accessing students after a term, trimester or semester of academic activities.

She believes that such mode of examination is ideal to distinguish students who are best at memorising but not necessarily the most intelligent.

“Our education system really doesn’t hone our critical thinking skills, it doesn’t develop our creative abilities. I am against the current model of assessment which is best at regurgitating what you have memorised.

For me that is not what education is about, particularly an education that will lift the continent out of the dire quagmire we find ourselves in currently,” she added on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.

Professor Sylvia Tamale was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Pretoria, South Africa at their 2021 Virtual Graduation Ceremony.

The award is in recognition of her contribution to shifting boundaries for African women, the rights of sexual minorities, trail-blazing role as an African woman with her principles and provocative scholarship on sexual and reproductive rights and advancing African feminism.

Professor Sylvia Tamale holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota, U.S.A; Master of Laws from the Harvard Law School, U.S.A and Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University.

She was the first female Dean of the Faculty of Law (2004 – 2008) at Makerere University; and the first female Professor to give a Professorial Inaugural Lecture (2016) at the Makerere University.

Professor Tamale is an internationally recognised leading scholar and has received several awards including African Studies Association of International Visitors and the Fulbright McArthur Scholarship.

She has served on numerous editorial boards and is widely respected for her leadership roles including Commissioner of the Global Commission on HIV/Aids and the Law; Board Member of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa and Board of Trustees of the Equal Rights Trust.

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