Helping students learn 'how to think' instead of 'what to think' - Transforming Employability for Social Change in East Africa

Many graduates in East Africa are ill-prepared to address the challenges they encounter in the modern workplace or to leverage their knowledge and competencies to contribute to society. One of the key contributory factors is a limited focus on critical thinking and problem solving within university teaching and learning. 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 solution is to move beyond islands of good teaching and to bring about change at scale.

The Transforming Employability for Social Change in East Africa (TESCEA) partnership brought together universities in Tanzania and Uganda with organisations in Kenya and the UK to develop a scalable pedagogical model to help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will increase graduate employability.

The approach

The TESCEA model was developed by testing approaches in partner universities and consolidating their experience into a set of practical tools and online courses that offer a complete pathway from programme alignment to learning design in order to transform the employability of graduates.

Woven into the journey to transform teaching and learning practice were:

  • Joint Advisory Groups (JAGs): forums where representatives from local communities, the private and public sector worked together with the university to help shape and deliver learning in and beyond the classroom.
  • Training of ‘multipliers’: to achieve sustainability, the project trained teaching staff to become facilitators – or ‘multipliers’ – who went on to train their colleagues.


  • 565 lecturers across four universities trained by TESCEA in course re-design and transformative learning
  • 29 multipliers who can now train and mentor their colleagues in course redesign, transformative learning and gender-responsive pedagogy
  • 91% of surveyed academics use gender-responsive pedagogy and 80% use critical thinking techniques in their teaching
  • 87% of students surveyed had a positive experience of TESCEA’s transformative teaching and learning approaches
  • 39 institutional policies, plans, tools and guidelines introduced to support teaching and learning innovation – including the establishment of Gulu University’s Gender Unit and Uganda Martyrs University’s Centre

The partners

The TESCEA partnership was led by INASP (UK), working with Mzumbe University (Tanzania), University of Dodoma (Tanzania), Gulu University (Uganda), Uganda Martyrs University (Uganda), Association for Faculty Enrichment in Learning and Teaching (Kenya), LIWA Programme Trust (Kenya) and Ashoka East Africa (Kenya).

Find out more

Summative evaluation: view the report.

TESCEA scalable pedagogical model: explore the model.

TESCEA gender learning brief: view the publication.

See also