Text Kavwanga Yambayamba, Varpu Somersalo Photos Unsplash, Kavwanga Yambayamba
Professor Kavwanga Yambayamba, Chair of the Project Board, believes that wide adaptation of PBL methods and promoting entrepreneurial skills in higher education is key to making a change and creating wealth in sub-Saharan Africa.
The board of the project PBL-BioAfrica approves of reports and project plans, as well as settles any possible differences of opinions in case the Coordinators cannot find a constructive solution. The Board consists of 1–2 representatives from each partner HEI, one representative from the RUFORUM network, and two societal representatives. The Board meets biannually and is chaired on rotation basis by the Zambian and Kenyan partner HEIs.
“One of the tasks of the Board is to steer PBL-BioAfrica towards a maximal impact in the long term in African universities”, explains Professor Kavwanga Yambayamba, Mulungushi University, current Chair of the Board. “The bigger picture for PBL-BioAfrica is that graduates will become more independent in thinking and will be able to solve complicated problems associated with agriculture, nutrition and the economy.”
The impact will be great not only on students themselves but on communities at large and the economies.
With more than 60% poverty levels in most African countries, PBL-BioAfrica project should be able to change this picture completely in the long run. While the project is currently focusing on agriculture-related fields, the approach will spread to other fields of education.
“In most African universities, the approach to teaching is linear which does not challenge students to take responsibility in solving problems”, professor Yambayamba continues. “Generally, teachers simply ‘feed’ students what they know and leave them as such. Examinations come and students simply cram to pass the same. The result is that most of our graduates’ capacity to contribute to the growth of our economies is very limited. Most of them simply become workers rather than critical thinkers and problem solvers; they become job seekers rather than job creators or entrepreneurs.
"PBL-BioAfrica project is, therefore, there to reshape the approach of delivery in our universities in order to change the landscape. Teachers should be facilitators of learning rather than playing the role of ‘I know it all’. Teachers should encourage students to ask questions and discover themselves. With this approach, we need not emphasize the great impact, not only on students themselves but on communities at large and the economies.”
The Project Board has a crucial role in steering the project towards the right decisions for making a real change.
“The PBL-BioAfrica Board supports the project through influencing decision makers in academic institutions, government, higher education authorities and the private sector, including NGOs. As the project progresses and as the results on the ground start trickling in, the Board will endeavor to demonstrate to all stakeholders that PBL is the way to go if we want to change the shape of our economies!”