Women's Access to Higher Education in Africa: Uganda's Experience

By Aspaas, Helen Ruth | African Studies Review, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Women's Access to Higher Education in Africa: Uganda's Experience


Aspaas, Helen Ruth, African Studies Review


WOMEN AND GENDER Joy C. Kwesiga. Women's Access to Higher Education in Africa: Uganda's Experience. Kampala: Fountain Publishers, Ltd., 2002. Distributed by African Books Collective Ltd., The Jam Factory, 27 Park End St., Oxford 0X1 1HU. xvii + 9 309 pp. Bibliography. Index. $34.95. Paper.

With the publication of Women's Access to Higher Education in Africa, the sixth in what appears to be an ongoing series, Fountain Publishers continues its efforts to inform the global community on gender issues in Uganda. Because of the indigenous insights and references not available to the scholarly community outside of Uganda, this book represents a valuable contribution to research on women's access to education in the global South.

Joy Kwesiga's work is an extensive and intensive examination not only of women and higher education in Uganda but also of broader issues of gender differentiation in access to education throughout much of subSaharan Africa. She addresses these issues holistically, ranging from the personal to the national level. The research is based on interviews, quantitative data sets, and a review of Ugandan archival sources. The bibliography, numerous tabulations of current data, and appropriate analyses make this a valuable contribution to the literature on educational opportunity in Africa. The detail provided as well as the candid discussions of gender constraints complement the United Nations and World Bank information, which is useful but not always gender specific. Kwesiga's principal thesis is that customs and traditions in Africa play a major role in preventing girls and women from reaching their fullest educational potential. She therefore charges all Ugandans to change the patriarchal mindset that puts women at a constant disadvantage in all spheres of society and in educational opportunities in particular.

In the first six chapters, Kwesiga carefully lays the groundwork for themes related to educational opportunity for girls and women in subSaharan Africa. Chapter 2 provides an excellent summary of the current theories on women's roles in international development. Chapter 3 focuses on the current African drive for universal primary education and how this relates to higher education. Kwesiga argues that while universal primary education is vital, so, too, is the need to move girls and women through the college and university structures if Uganda is to continue its efforts for full development. …

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