Transforming Employability for Social Change in East Africa (TESCEA) is helping young people in Tanzania and Uganda to use their skills and ideas to tackle social and economic problems. With partners in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, TESCEA supports universities, industries, communities and government to work together to create an improved learning experience for students – both women and men. This improved learning experience fosters the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and allows for practical learning beyond the classroom that improves a graduate’s employability.
Many graduates in East Africa can be ill-prepared to address the challenges they encounter in the workplace or leverage their skills and ideas to meet social needs. One of the key factors contributing to this is the lack of focus on critical thinking and problem solving within university teaching and learning. Students need to learn “how to think”, instead of “what to think”. While universities recognise the need to improve the quality and relevance of curricula, to rethink pedagogies, and to build stronger connections with communities and industries, the challenge is to move beyond islands of good teaching and to bring about change at scale.
TESCEA is developing a scalable pedagogical model to help universities across East Africa produce graduates with the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to solve real-world problems. It supports universities to create learning environments that encourage questioning and to offer placements and other practical projects to connect classroom learning to the challenges facing businesses, communities and governments.
Working with four partner universities, TESCEA has the potential to improve learning experiences for as many as 3,000 graduates by 2022, by:
- Facilitating new approaches to learning – strengthening the ability and motivation of academics to deliver student-focused teaching that helps students learn how to think, not what to think, focusing on critical thinking, problem solving, negotiation and relationship development
- Strengthening connections between universities, local employers and communities – fostering relationships between universities, employers and local communities to enable the design of relevant curricula and practical internships
- Developing approaches and tools to enable scale up – developing a CPD toolkit for lecturers, including an open, online course to allow academics across the region to access training, advice and mentorship on curricula and pedagogical change.
TESCEA actively addresses the inclusion of women and other disadvantaged groups by seeking diverse industry and community role models, and identifying and addressing barriers to learning.
The partnership is laying the foundations – through knowledge, networks, skills and tools – to enable universities across East Africa to produce graduates who have the skills and competencies that local employers and communities need to solve real-world problems. It is also working to change perceptions of the role that graduates can play for employers and communities, and the role that employers and communities can play in enhancing graduate employability and entrepreneurship.
TESCEA is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) as part of DFID’s SPHEIR (Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform) programme to support higher education transformation in focus countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
SPHEIR is a competitive grant scheme designed to catalyse innovative ‘partnerships’ in low-income countries to improve the performance, governance and influence of higher education systems and institutions. SPHEIR partnerships seek to transform the quality, relevance, access and affordability of higher education to achieve sustainable change in higher education systems.