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Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development

Development Agendas in a Changing World

Edited by Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz and Pedro Roffe

This comprehensive book considers new and emerging IP issues from a development perspective, examining recent trends and developments in this area. Presenting an overview of the IP landscape in general, the contributing authors subsequently narrow their focus, providing wide-ranging case studies from countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America on topical issues in the current IP discourse. These include the impact of IP on the pharmaceutical sector, the protection of life forms and traditional knowledge, geographical indications, access to knowledge and public research institutes, and the role of competition policy. The challenges developing countries face in the TRIPS-Plus world are also explored in detail.
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Chapter 12: Education and Access to Knowledge in Southern Africa

Andrew Rens, Achal Prabhala and Dick Kawooya


Andrew Rens, Achal Prabhala and Dick Kawooya1 INTRODUCTION As a concept, knowledge covers vast ground and has multiple meanings. In the present day, it is frequently encountered through the term ‘knowledge economy’, which is usually used to refer to the importance of knowledge as a contemporary commodity – an undeniable fact, even if it puts a big idea in a utilitarian cage. Consequently, it becomes important to acknowledge both the normative and pragmatic foundations of this concept. As Peter Drahos succinctly puts it: ‘Knowledge underpins everything, including economies’.2 It is therefore appropriately difficult to exhaustively list elements of the issues to consider under a campaign for ‘Access to Knowledge’ (‘A2K’). To circumscribe ‘knowledge’ would be a foolhardy exercise; instead, the campaign – as with this chapter – deals with conventionally identifiable elements of curricular and self-administered learning. ‘Access’ is a similarly fraught term. One could begin by considering that knowledge is accrued in different ways, by both the structured system of education and cultural encounters at large. One might consider that access to these resources can be by different means: the printed and spoken word, television, the Internet, and many other media. It is also worth considering that systems of learning must be compliant with learners’ needs, in the case of either disabled learners or distance learners, to name but two possible groupings. Access to learning materials is one aspect of access to knowledge. Although for the purpose of analysis we might divide access to learning materials into issues of bulk access or...

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