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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Secondary schooling for girls in rural Uganda: challenges, opportunities and emerging identities Jones, Shelley Kathleen


This dissertation represents a year-long (August 2004-August 2005) ethnographic case study of 15 adolescent schoolgirls attending a secondary school in a poor, rural area of Masaka District, Uganda which explores the challenges, opportunities and potential for future identities that were associated with secondary level education. This study includes an extensive analysis of the degree to which the global objective of gender equity in education, prioritized in UNESCO’s Education For All initiative as well as the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, is promoted and/or achieved in the National Strategy for Girls’ Education in Uganda (NSGE). I consider various ideological understandings of international development in general as well as development theory specifically related to gender, and I draw on the Capabilities Approach (as developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum) and Imagined Communities and Identities (Benedict Anderson, Bonny Norton) to interpret my findings. My research reveals that girls’ educational opportunities are constrained by many “unfreedoms” (Sen, 1999), such as extreme poverty, sexual vulnerability and gender discrimination, that are deeply and extensively rooted in cultural, historical, and socioeconomic circumstances and contexts, and that these unfreedoms are not adequately addressed in international and national policies and programme objectives. I propose several recommendations for change, including: a safe and secure “girls’ space” at school; mentorship roles and programmes; counselors; comprehensive sexual health education and free and easy access to birth control and disease prevention products, and sanitary materials; regular opportunities for dialogue with male students; employment opportunities; closer community/school ties; and professional development opportunities for teachers.

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