An Exploratory Study of the Impact of the Rural Ugandan Village Library and Other Factors on the Academic Achievement of Secondary School Students

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Year of Completion


First Advisor

Heting Chu


This study used archival data to explore the impact of the rural village library and other factors on the academic achievement of secondary school students in the Ugandan village of Kitengesa, and related these findings to rural library development currently taking place in Uganda and other African countries such as Burkina Faso and Ghana. A number of factors were explored, including but not limited to reading frequency, library use frequency, and students’ socioeconomic status, in relation to students’ overall academic achievement. Factors related to reading habits and students’ reading environment were also explored, including the presence and type of printed materials in the home, whether students read to others, whether students can take books home, and student/librarian interactions. In terms of the library factor, the study was framed as a baseline study in that it provided a snapshot of the Kitengesa Library at a very early stage of the library’s development – a developmental stage that can be useful when exploring the impact of other more recent rural libraries. In the same way that a still photograph captures a moment in time that has since changed, the exploration of the archival data used for this study is key to understanding how a new village library may impact its users. The outcomes of the study suggest that the factors that were explored have varied levels of impact on students. Access to a library and frequency of library use are not predictive of students’ academic outcomes, but reading frequency and the reading of certain types of printed materials for recreational purposes are, and these factors are often contingent on the presence of a library. In Uganda, only 18 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys are enrolled in secondary school, and this group of students (ages 13-17) is particularly vulnerable to a wide range of social and economic challenges. Classrooms with few scholastic resources and teachers with little access to supplemental reading materials undermine student learning and academic success, which further impairs the long-term development of a reading culture. It is the intent of the researcher to use the outcomes of the study to provide a framework for exploring the factors that may impact academic achievement within the context of the rural village library in other rural settings. The findings will be used to highlight challenges associated with learning in rural environments such as the one being studied, and also highlight the potential of the rural village library in providing services and programs to support student learning.