Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 25, July 1999 


Books and education in East Africa and the Horn of Africa

Seminar at Thames Valley University, London, March 1999

Anthony Olden
Dr Anthony Olden is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Information Management, Thames Valley University, St Mary's Road, Ealing, London W5 5RF, England.
Tel +44 181 231 2983, e-mail:

Timed to take place just before the 1999 London International Book Fair, this seminar* drew participants from the World Bank, donor organisations, NGOs, libraries, publishing firms and universities. Professor Lalage Bown's opening talk focused on literacy in Uganda and beyond. Literacy empowers people to take part in decision-making; without it people are deprived of resources, power and justice. The present Ugandan government believes that literacy is essential to the workings of a democratic system. We should, she continued, be talking about literacies rather than literacy, because different levels and kinds of literacy are necessary for survival in different circumstances.

Africa, said author Goretti Kyomuhendo of Femrite (the Uganda Women Writers Association), is an oral society. It seemed unnatural to her to see people on an aeroplane reading instead of chatting to those in the seats next to them.

Winette Field, a former volunteer in Eritrea, talked about library provision for children in Eritrea. Libraries at senior secondary school level are well established but the stock is old. The middle-aged director of one private school admitted the library books were the same ones he had used as a pupil.

Dr Said Shire - economist turned social worker - talked about public library provision in the Republic of Somaliland, contrasting it unfavourably with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the poorest boroughs in Britain, where he now lives and works.

Daniel Rotich, a Moi University lecturer currently studying at Thames Valley University, spoke about the marketing of textbooks in Kenya, in particular the changes under market liberalisation.

Alli Mcharazo used examples from his PhD thesis to illustrate distance education and information provision in Tanzania. The Open University of Tanzania was established in 1993. Female enrolment is disappointingly low, however, because of the greater obstacles women still face in advancing educationally.

* Seminar sponsored by Thames Valley University, London with the assistance of the Southern African Book Development Education Trust (SABDET). [end] [BPN, no 25, 1999, p 7]

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