Women's Agency and Educational Policy

The Experiences of the Women of Kilome, Kenya

By mutindi mumbua kiluva-ndunda

Subjects: Comparative Education
Series: SUNY series, The Social Context of Education
Paperback : 9780791447628, 206 pages, October 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447611, 206 pages, October 2000

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Table of contents


1. Introduction

Main Focus
Overview of the Book

2. Education and Women's Equity: Framing the Context

Women and Education in Kenya
Women's Economic Activities
Women and the Family
Women's Self-Help Groups

3. Research Sites

Kithumba Village
Kyandue Village
Salama Town
Choice of Study Area

4. Grounding the Methodology of Study

Paving the Way: Theoretical Framework
Research Design
Writing Ethnography
Reflections on Doing Research in Kilome Division

5. Analyses of Education- and Development-Policy

Ominde Report (1964)
Sessional Paper # 10: African Socialism and Its Application to Planning Policy (1965)
1974–1978 Development Plan
Gachathi Report (1976)
Mackay Report (1981)
Wanjigi Report (1982–1983)
Kamunge Report (1988)
1989–1993 Development Plan
Ndegwa Report (1991)

6. Kilome Women's Educational Experiences

Colonial Background
Women's Own Experiences of Education
Educational Experiences of Kilome Women's Daughters

7. Factors Limiting Girls' Educational Opportunities

High Cost of Education
Traditional Preference to Educate Boys
Assumption That Girls Will Get Married
Girls' Potential Motherhood
Responsibility for Sex Education

8. Intensification of Women's Labor to Educate Their Children and Its Implications

Importance Women Attach to Educating Daughters
Supporting Their Mothers
Supporting Their Families
Making Marriage Choices
Women's Inability to Depend on Husbands for Daughters' Education
Intensification of Women's Labor
Women's Health
Girls' Education,Impact on the Welfare of the Family

9. "Help Me So That I May Help You": Women's Self-Help Movement

Kyandue Women's Self-Help Group
Kithumba Women's Self-Help Group
Salama Women's Self-Help Group
Successes and Limitations
Exclusiveness of Women's Self-Help Groups

10. Women's Educational Experiences: Private and Public Discourses on Education in Kenya and Implications for Policy

Public and Private Discourses on Education
Implications for Policy
Support for Girls' Education Starting at the Village Level
Reentry of Adolescent Mothers into the School System
Introducing Sex Education in Schools and Communities
Support for Women as Intervention Agents for Their Daughters' Education


Highlights the struggles of a group of women from rural Kenya to provide educational opportunities for their children.


This fascinating book examines rural African women's experiences of education in Kilome, Kenya, providing engrossing, and oftentimes heartbreaking, testimony on the cultural, historical, social, economic, and political factors that have shaped, and continue to shape, women's educational and economic opportunities there. As a Kamba woman who grew up in rural Kenya and as one who received an education in the metropolitan cities of North America, the author presents these women's stories not simply from an insider's perspective, but as one who has shared experiences of the issues discussed in the book. Highlighting the struggles these women face to provide their children—particularly their daughters—with educational opportunities, the author draws attention to the gender and power issues that limit women's participation in the public sphere and illustrates how women in Kenya have been largely absent at the national level where educational policies are formulated.

mutindi mumbua kiluva-ndunda is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Specializations at the College of Charleston.


"There is a dearth of qualitative studies on African education. This examination of how Kilome women, through the power of individual and collective agency, take advantage of the limited opportunities to challenge and rupture patriarchal ideologies and structures is refreshing. We're given a sense of how these women are crucial to the creation of knowledge and political theory of social change. " — George J. Sefa Dei, author of Hardships and Survival in Rural West Africa: A Case Study of a Ghanaian Community