Student Power in Africa's Higher Education: A Case of Makerere University

Article excerpt


Frederick Kamuhanda Byaruhanga. Student Power in Africa's Higher Education: A case of Makerere University. New York: Routledge, 2006. xxii + 180 pp. Charts. Appendix. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $65.00. Cloth.

Frederick Byaruhanga's book, Student Power in Africa's Higher Education: A Case of Makerere University, is a significant contribution to the literature on student activism. Using historical analysis, Byaruhanga examines the role of student activism in shaping Uganda's higher education; he focuses on the critical incidents of student protest, using eyewitness accounts drawn from past and present student leaders. To put the study in context, the author provides a brief history of Uganda from precolonial times to the present, a short (and selective) overview of education in Uganda, and a consideration of certain theoretical debates on student activism in higher education.

Byaruhanga defines student power as "the impact of student activism" (xix). He indicates that although student activism has brought change to higher education in Africa and has had a significant impact on national politics in the region, few studies of the subject have been conducted in Africa. With no unifying framework on student activism available in the literature, what we have, he argues, is "a fragmentary tapestry of theoretical threads, based primarily on western experience"(32).

In general, as Byaruhanga shows, African governments have been heavy handed in their response to student activism; students and professors have been imprisoned, detained, raped, and killed. And yet student activism has been a significant social force. In South Africa, for example, student activism played an important role in ending apartheid and moving the country toward democracy. …


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