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Many African governments adopted rapid massification in response to popular demand
for university education; between 2008 and 2011 enrolments increased from 4.5 to 6.3
million and is still rising. But access to graduate education remains low; estimated at
9.3% of total tertiary enrolment in 2014, the bulk (44%) in social sciences, business and
law. This is compounded by high wastage as only 19% of students complete their
Poor teaching and learning conditions have undermined quality in programme delivery:
large class sizes, high staff student ratios, insufficient teaching and learning materials,
poor infrastructure, and weak quality assurance. Faculty are not trained to teach and
most teach the way they were taught; teaching excellence is not recognized and
remuneration is low. Faculty are burdened with heavy teaching loads often exacerbated
by moonlighting in consultancies and extra teaching assignments across universities.
The opportunity cost of planning for course delivery, seminars, tutorials and mentorship
is high. Inadvertently, content tyranny where teachers read often outdated notes to
passive students who write without necessarily understanding the content is prevalent.
In a session with 30 Vice Chancellors attending the Fifth African Higher Education Week in Cape Town on October 15, 2016; it was confirmed that this problem is insidious, and that past and current efforts to reform university education remain silent on classroom dynamics.
African societies are becoming increasingly complex, requiring diversified human
capabilities for a constantly changing knowledge economy. These capacities cannot be
effectively inculcated through conventional pedagogical practices that stress rote
learning. Graduates should generate, adapt and use knowledge in public affairs;
address local needs; find innovative solutions to developmental challenges; and, create
and sustain opportunities for inclusive development. The need to reform pedagogical
practices is therefore unequivocal while transformative leadership and cooperation
among universities is essential.
PedaL is implemented incrementally influenced by: a) Deeper engagement with universities, national and regional stakeholders and consensus reached on policy shifts that influence uptake of PedaL; b) Strategic direction provided by PASGR’s Board of Directors as well as it PedaL Steering Committee; and, c) Mobilization of local resources for upscaling PedaL.
PedaL is organized around a set of activities that aim to produce the following three key outputs:
i. Universities institutionalize PedaL and mainstream it for all social science programmes;
ii. PedaL training designed and delivered to university teaching staff across the continent;
iii. Teaching staff evidently using PedaL teaching and learning methods to deliver programmes across the continent.
In the planning phase, careful consideration was made of potential institutions to be incorporated in the PedaL partnership. Institutions that are working with PASGR on the collaborative Master of Research and Public Policy (MRPP) programme provided a natural entry point because they had been involved in an initial phase of experimentation on introducing aspects of innovative pedagogy in the programme. It was therefore found prudent to build on their goodwill and existent structures in a project that aimed at sharpening, deepening and enhancing the content, processes and lessons from implementing innovative pedagogy in the MRPP to scale up the approach, consolidate its successes and extend its impact.
PedaL initiated a consultative process with MRPP universities and formed the PedaL partnership with universities that shared the vision for PedaL within a given timeframe. These were Ibadan, Dar es Salaam, Ghana, Egerton and Uganda Martyrs; other universities that expressed interest will benefit from various opportunities for scaling up PedaL. It is also notable that three of these universities: Ibadan, Dar es Salaam and Ghana are members of the Alliance for Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) formed by sixteen leading universities on the continent. Within two years of its establishment, ARUA has attracted the attention and support of policy makers at university and national level and secured resources to implement an ambitious research programme across the continent. PedaL will therefore work with ARUA and leverage on its liaison capacities for policy uptake, mobilization of local resources and in depth studies on educational outcomes. Similarly, partnership with IDS since 2012 through PASGR’s Professional Development and Training (PDT) programme enabled the design and delivery of a suite of blended short term courses with IDS assuring quality. Together, the PedaL team offers excellent skills and expertise, and visionary leadership for effective design, delivery and institutionalisation of PedaL within partner universities.
Institutionalization is perceived and approached as a continuous process that embeds the evolution and implementation of PedaL from conceptualization to design, pilots, delivery, implementation and sustainability within the host institutions as individuals acting collaboratively within a partnership. Institutionalization will be driven by a process of communication and engagement of key university stakeholders in key decisions and activities at all stages of PedaL. From the outset, PASGR met with leaders of the six institutions who endorsed the PedaL concept as consistent with their institutional visions and goals and designated a core team to lead project activities in respective institutions. As part of the process of institutionalization; prior to the launch of PedaL, suitable administrative structures, will be established within the universities to oversee its implementation. The structure will be known as a University PedaL Implementation Team and each of these teams will report to a programme-wide Steering Committee.
A Steering Committee is the apex organ of the partnership organ responsible for overall strategic leadership of PedaL. The Steering Committee will monitor the process of transforming pedagogical practices in the universities and address any obstacles that emerge. Specifically, the Committee provides oversight for all aspects of development and implementation of PedaL and will ensure that all outputs meet the stipulated standards of timeliness, equity, quality and access.
At the university level, PedaL Implementation Teams led by the Steering Committee member work closely with university leadership to develop and implement a university specific strategy for implementing PedaL and to leverage available innovative intra-institutional capacities to institutionalize PedaL. Among other responsibilities, the implementation team shares information on Pedal with all key university stakeholders and secure firm and clear commitment of top university leadership. The team provides leadership on: a) Identifying entry points for mainstreaming the PedaL training programme within the university and PedaL pedagogy in social science programmes; b) Coordinating data collection, information sharing and reporting on progress made on the work streams while identifying and addressing any issues that may arise; c) Developing schedules of work, assigning responsibilities and ensuring that milestones for the various work stream are met; d) Organizing university specific outreach and engagement events for publicizing PedaL information, innovations and PedaL outcomes; and, e) Designing and implementing a university specific risk register that enables identification and monitoring of risks as well as the mitigating strategies; f) Planning and coordinating activities for scale up of PedaL at the university level; and, g) Share emerging PedaL outcomes with relevant university organs to influence policy change.
Our beneficiaries are teaching staff in African universities who will be equipped with pedagogical knowledge, skills and experiences. They will also have networking opportunities with peers and access to international knowledge networks. It is anticipated that this will lead to recognition of teaching excellence in the African Higher Education space.
Secondly, graduate students in universities will benefit from exceptional learning moments created by our innovative pedagogy. This will lead to holistic development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and practical experiences, increased completion rates and better job prospects.
Other stakeholders such as prospective employers, ministries of higher education, commissions for university education will benefit from this innovation. Ministries and government agencies for instance will benefit from improved efficiency of graduate education such as high enrolments, higher retention and completion rates. Prospective employers will benefit from innovations in the workplace and increased productivity by quality graduates.