Aalto Global Impact to strengthen problem-based learning in East African universities

 

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has granted Aalto Global Impact 700,000 euros for a three-year project establishing best practices in problem-based learning in East African universities.

The project entitled Strengthening Problem-Based Education in East African Universities (PBL East Africa) is one of 20 projects, out of 78 applications, to receive funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as part of the Higher Education Institutions Institutional Cooperation Instrument (HEI ICI), an international development cooperation programme for higher education.

’We are delighted by the success of our application in the competitive HEI ICI call and that our project PBL East Africa received the maximum amount awarded, a total of 700,000 euros,’  says Director Teija Lehtonen, Aalto Global Impact (AGI).  ‘The project has clear consistence with Finland’s development policy and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’

Key aims of the project include making a decisive contribution to local skills development and to strengthen the capacity of local youth to engage in productive employment, as well as to tackle complex societal challenges in their professional lives.

An international joint initiative to solve real-world challenges

The project is a joint initiative of Nairobi University (Kenya), Makerere University (Uganda), Dar es Salaam University (Tanzania), and Aalto University. Each partner university in Africa takes ownership of the project at the local level and works in collaboration with Aalto University, which is responsible for overall project management.

‘Multidisciplinarity and solving real-world challenges are a central part of our work at Aalto Global Impact, which promotes and facilitates Aalto University’s research and educational programmes for societal impact globally,’ explains Lehtonen.

A variety of programmes and courses at Aalto University are involved in the multidisciplinary PBL East Africa project. Key experts include Matleena Muhonen (Sustainable Global Technologies SGT), Anna-Mari Saari (International Design Business Management IDBM), Armi Temmes (Capstone, Creative Sustainability), Marko Nieminen (Software and Service Engineering SSE), Olli Varis (SGT), Markku Salimäki (IDBM), Jarkko Levänen (Capstone, Creative Sustainability), and Minna Halme (Sustainability Management).

Partner universities in Africa identify local challenges

‘Problem-based learning is already well established and a strategic priority of the partnering universities.  However, concrete practice is needed to apply new teaching methodologies and foster a student-driven, proactive mindset,’ says AGI Senior Manager Riina Subra.

The PBL East Africa project operates as a piloting platform allowing each partner university to test, choose and refine the best way for them to implement PBL education, and to integrate it into their longer-term teaching and curricula.

‘Teams and their mentors will be paired to work together on local challenges identified by each partner organisation, conducting fieldwork together and sharing innovation methods including sustainability analyses and human rights based approaches,’ says Subra.

Approximately ten student challenges will be piloted reaching over hundred students and engaging over thirty East African faculty members, as teachers of multi-disciplinary PBL courses or participants of workshops. In addition, the lessons learned and the results of the student projects will be disseminated to a wide audience.

More information:

Riina Subra, Senior Manager
+358 50 4066 251
riina.subra@aalto.fi

This post was written by Roope Kiviranta

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