Improving Learning through Classroom Experience


Start dateDecember 2022
End dateMarch 2024
Funded byFCDO
CollaboratorsUniversity of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); University of Oulu (Finland); Haileybury Youth Trust (Uganda); Yescon GmbH (Germany); Technical University of Denmark.


Classrooms in sub-Saharan Africa can often be physically uncomfortable places to be in, let alone to teach and learn in. Sweltering temperatures have proven negative physiological impacts – regardless of children’s level of acclimatisation. Furthermore, poorly lit, or overly sun-exposed, classrooms make it much more difficult to read and introduce health risks (⇡Ibhadode et al., 2019). Lack of—or excess—light excludes children with poor eyesight, introducing an often unconsidered layer of inequity to schooling. Overall, these classroom conditions, all infrastructural in nature, are fundamentally part of the learner experience.

Funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Improving Learning Through Classroom Experience (ILCE) programme focuses on investigating whether modification of the built environment (temperature, light intensity, and acoustics) can positively impact the classroom experience to improve learning. The research is not expected to establish causation to learning, but instead to act as a proof of concept to build awareness and understanding of pertinent issues and to spur further research.

The programme is composed of two teams:

  • Team 1 will focus on at-scale learning assessment. The team will focus on the assessment of the overall environmental conditions and investigate how these can be linked to learning outcomes. Team 1 is composed of researchers from Fab Inc. and Laterite.
  • Team 2, comprising OpenDevEd and its collaborators, will focus on practical approaches to improve Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). This includes exploring options to retrofit schools and making changes to buildings and the school environment.

Both teams will look to complement their respective work in order to ensure efficient use of time and resources, working to harmonised scopes of work, including work plans.


OpenDevEd and partners will focus on the identification and testing of practical changes to the physical environment and infrastructure of schools.

OpenDevEd staff are responsible for the following activities:

  • Explore adequate measurement approaches to current conditions (temperature, lighting, acoustics) in schools across Tanzania
  • Through desk-based research and learning from innovative school buildings experts and organisations in the African region, possible approaches will be explored and analysed based on the characteristics of the Tanzanian context
  • Validate initial approaches through computer modelling
  • Quantitative data measurements of environmental conditions, collected with high-precision sensors
  • Qualitative data collection on students’ comfort
  • Implementation of cost-effective interventions on temperature, acoustics, and lighting in selected Tanzanian schools
  • Analysis of the impact of retrofits on the environmental conditions studied and on students’ comfort.



Further resources

Haßler, B. (2023). How to build an IoT device with low-power sleep [Improving Learning Through Classroom Experience in East Africa]. OpenDevEd.
Villavicencio, X., & Toyinbo, O. (n.d.). What retrofits could make classroom environments more conducive to learning?
Haßler, B., Villavicencio Peralta, X. A., Macharia, G., Toyinbo, O., Nambatya, M., Mtebe, J., Schaffer, J., Wargocki, P., & Adam, T. (2022). Improving Learning Through Classroom Experience in East Africa: Temperature, Lighting, and Sound Quality – Inception report (Improving Learning Through Classroom Experience in East Africa 1). Open Development & Education.
Toyinbo, O., Villavicencio Peralta, X. A., & Megogo Bokamba, T. E. (2023). Possible Retrofit Interventions for Classrooms (Infographic). Open Development & Education.
Fab Inc, Laterite, & Open Development and Education. (2023). Climate, Enviroment and Education - Presentation for the Tanzania Education Donors-Partners working group. Tanzania Education Donors-Partners working group, Tanzania.
Villavicencio Peralta, X., & Megogo Bokamba, T. E. (2023). The “Improving Learning Through Classroom Experience” Study - Open Development & Education (Improving Learning Through Classroom Experience in East Africa 2).,
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2023). IPCC-Climate-Trends-Fact-Sheet-for-Africa (p. 2).
Haßler, B. (2023, March 22). (Adapting to the) Impacts of climate (change): Temperature, Light, Sound, Air. Utafiti Elimu, Tanzania.


All outputs from this programme are also available in our evidence library, see

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