Through the Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program, ASEC facilitates access to post-secondary education for Catholic sisters in 10 countries in Africa. Since 2013, more than 1,100 sisters have participated in HESA. ASEC delivers HESA in partnership with 24 universities in the U.S. and Africa. Sisters study in cohorts of 5 to 20 students and receive unique support to ensure their success as students and women religious.
HESA fills a gap in educational access for women religious in sub-Saharan Africa, where 9% of the college aged population enters higher education and women are outnumbered 72 to 100. In ASEC’s 2016 survey, superior generals rated paying sisters tuition for post-secondary education highest among congregational challenges, and the greatest potential benefit of ASEC. To meet this need, HESA sponsors sisters for traditional on campus studies, as well as in an online-onsite hybrid model.
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In the 2018-19 academic year, HESA welcomed its largest class, with 331 new students enrolling at university partners. Another 200 sisters will join the program in 2019-20.
Currently, 778 sisters are enrolled in the program in 10 countries, 80% of whom maintained higher than a B average. Sisters participating in the program study for college diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in disciplines needed to enhance their congregations and the services they provide in ministry.
HESA maintains a 96% retention rate and more than 280 sisters have graduated from the program at ASEC’s various partner institutions. In 2018-19, 135 sisters graduated from HESA, including 20 sisters who were the first master’s degree graduates. Approximately 60 HESA students reported graduating with honors.
Two sisters received awards as the overall best graduating students in their university. Sr. Philomena Aboagye-Danso, FST (pictured at top of page), graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the Catholic University College of Ghana; she began her studies online at Chestnut Hill College. Sr. Sylvia Namuleme, DM, graduated with a Diploma in Nursing from St. Francis Hospital Nsambya Training School, Uganda.
Congratulations to the 2018-19 HESA graduates!
- 1-Jul-2018, Sacred Heart School of Nursing, Nigeria
- 28-Sep-2018, St. Francis Hospital Nsambya Training School, Uganda
- 19-Oct-2018, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya
- 19-Oct-2018, Tangaza University College, Kenya
- 26-Oct-2018, University of Kisubi, Uganda
- 26-Oct-2018, ChemChemi Ya Uzima Institute, Kenya
- 27-Oct-2018, Catholic University College of Ghana
- 8-Nov-2018, Uganda Martyrs University
- 17-Nov-2018, Mwenge Catholic University, Tanzania
- 7-Dec-2018, Saint Augustine University, Tanzania
- 3-Mar-2019, Veritas University College, Nigeria
- 4-May-2019, Tangaza University College, Kenya
- 24-May-2019, Tangaza University College, Kenya
Reflective Learning is an annual workshop that brings together HESA sisters studying at universities in a country for academic and professional development. In 2018-2019, 90% of enrolled HESA students participated in 13 reflective learning workshops. Workshop topics varied according to the needs or interests of each country and included academic honesty, self awareness, stress management, time management, research, effective communication, and emotional intelligence, among other topics.
In 2019, ASEC signed a new Framework of Reference (FOR) with the Catholic University Institute of Buea, Cameroon (March 2019) and a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya, and Rosemont College, U.S., to expand an online-onsite hybrid program (June 2019).
The FOR, between ASEC and Veritas University, Nigeria (August 2019) and the MOU between ASEC, Rosemont College, U.S., and University of Kisubi, Uganda (June 2019) were renewed.
HESA Alumnae make positive contributions to sustainable human development in their congregations, ministries, and societies. Education enhances sisters self-esteem and their effectiveness as religious and organizational leaders. In June 2019, a team of ASEC staff visited HESA alumnae working in various fields in Uganda.
Representatives from three of ASEC’s founding members participated in the site visits - April Fowlkes, Director of Accelerated Adult Admission, Chestnut Hill College; Jim Sullivan, Dean of the College of Professional Studies, Marywood University; and Dr. Peter McLallen, Dean of the Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies, Rosemont College.