Access of Women to Higher Education in Uganda: An Analysis of Inequalities, Barriers and Determinants
The study analyses factors affecting women's access to higher education in Uganda, where women are under-represented at all levels of education, as students, teachers, and managers. This reflects women's low status in Ugandan society. The conceptual framework is derived from literature covering Women in Development, the human capital concept of investment in education, the indirect benefits of educating women, and social theories of gender inequality. Literature on general educational access factors, mainly focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa is reviewed, using Hyde's (1991) three-fold classification of family, societal, and institutional factors. A sample of four primary schools, sixteen advanced level secondary schools and eleven higher education institutions provided empirical data. A crosssection of over 600 Ugandan students, teachers in secondary schools and higher education institutions, political and civic leaders and parents responded to questionnaires. Decision-makers at sample institutions and the Ministry of Education headquarters were interviewed, and documentary analysis also covered official reports, documents and records, previous research and the mass media. Although focus is on the higher education level, lower levels are investigated to provide insight into causes of diminishing numbers of female students as one climbs the educational ladder. The central conclusion is that the family, society and the state in Uganda act as if they are constantly weighing the profitability of investing in boys' or girls' education, albeit not in the conventional way of measuring earnings of educated workers, but rather assessing the future functional value of the individual. Lower status within the family structure, lower perceived social value, exacerbated by general economic constraints and inadequate educational structures make girls' education, particularly higher education, appear less profitable than that of boys. This obscures the indirect benefits that families and society would reap from higher rates of female participation in education.