Text Iida-Maija Kalmanlehto
The AgriSCALE project has continued moving towards its objectives of re-designing the curricula of the partner universities in Africa. A significant step towards the right direction was taken when in February 2021, a second virtual training took place at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya.
The goal of AgriSCALE is to facilitate a change in the curricula of the participating six partner universities in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. In the future, the curricula of the schools of agriculture should define the skills that the students need to have at the end of their studies, instead of the content of the studies.
"This training had a different target group from the first ones", clarifies PBL trainer Ulla-Maija Knuutti from Häme University of Applied Sciences. "The two previous trainings were only for the School of Agriculture management. In this training, we had participants from all the schools of JKUAT."
Professor Losenge Turoop, the local coordinator of the project at JKUAT, finds this a necessary step:
"It is crucial to have the management of the university on board in these trainings, as the administrators carry the responsibility of enforcing the changes in the curriculum. They also need to understand what the change towards problem-based and student-centered learning actually means on curriculum level, not only to the teachers."
Professor Turoop managed to collect a total number of 36 senior university managers including deans, administrators and registrars from all JKUAT’s schools to come together to listen to what the project trainings are going to be about, and why it is also relevant for them.
"We decided that although the School of Agriculture is the main partner in the project, all the schools and departments should be on board in this meeting for us to benefit from this project fully", says professor Turoop.
This is a very good starting point for AgriSCALE, as it is a signal of the commitment of the university to the project. Especially the participation of the university Vice President, who oversees academic affairs, and his positive comments after the training were a testament of the university’s willingness to implement PBL in JKUAT.
The project comes at an excellent time for JKUAT as the Kenyan government has urged all learning institutions to change their curricula to a competence-based model. The model is already championed in the lower primary education, and JKUAT would in any case need to tune in the curricula to suit the new requirements.
The arrangements for organising trainings related to problem-based learning for the teachers are already on their way. What do you think, professor Turoop, will the teachers be interested in the trainings?
"The teachers are actually very eager! The School of Agriculture has requested whether AgriSCALE could support a team to develop a sample PBL programme in JKUAT."
The AgriSCALE team is very happy that despite the Covid-19 challenges, promising developments towards the right direction are already taking place.