The project established best practices in problem-based learning (PBL) for innovation, engaged several disciplines, empowered students, and developed an approach to critically address societal challenges in facilitated real-world situations.

Key information

Strengthening Problem-Based Education in East African Universities (PBL East Africa)

Project Budget€700,000 with MFA funding, total project budget €1 071 982
Project Duration1.3.2017–31.8.2020
Coordinating InstitutionAalto University/Aalto Global Impact
Partner Institution(s): Makerere University, Uganda; University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; University of Nairobi, Kenya

Project description and key results

Strengthening Problem-Based Learning in East African Universities (PBL Africa) was a capacity development project between the University of Dar es Salaam, the University of Nairobi, Makerere University and Aalto University.

The aim of the PBL East Africa project was to establish practices in problem-based learning (PBL) for innovation, engaging several disciplines, empowering students and developing an approach to critically addressing societal challenges in facilitated real-world situations.

The 17 PBL challenges brought together multidisciplinary student teams from all the partner universities to co-develop proposals for client organisations’ sustainable innovation problems. The challenges extend from several weeks to over six months, allowing the multicultural teams to go through a full concept development cycle with the support and mentorship of the faculty.

While PBL was a relatively new approach to the coordinators and lead faculty in East African HEIs, by the end of the project period the PBL East Africa project consolidated teaching practices and institutional engagement in HEIs. At the end of the project, all three partner HEIs have gained the capacity to independently implement PBL in a variety of forms and to adapt implementation mechanisms to their local institutional and thematic needs.

In addition to two new curriculum revisions introducing PBL and one new interdisciplinary PBL education programme, all partner HEIs have introduced PBL in their university-wide strategies. Encouraged by these experiences, Aalto University has integrated PBL partnerships into its international partnership strategies under university leadership.

See PBL East Africa's website