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Herman Van Rompuy

From 1 to 6 September Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Belgium, was in Rwanda in his capacity as Goodwill Ambassador for VVOB. The purpose of his visit was to gain further insights in current priorities in the education sector in Rwanda and to strengthen cooperation between VVOB and the Government of Rwanda in promoting quality education.

Shedding light on EU-African Union relations

 

Mr. Van Rompuy, VVOB’s Goodwill Ambassador since 2015, engaged in different meetings and activities during his visit to Rwanda.

 

These included a lecture at the University of Rwanda (UR) about the European Union (EU) in the contemporary world; EU-African Union relations; and education and development. The audience included Prof. Philip Cotton, UR Vice-Chancellor, students and lecturers. In addition, Ambassadors, including the Ambassador of Belgium in Rwanda, Mr. Benoît Ryelandt Embassy, and Heads of Mission of EU countries in Rwanda and the EU Delegation, as well as different development partners participated in the lecture.

 

According to Mr. Van Rompuy, the Africa-European Union relationship is about investing in people, prosperity and security, where both Europe and Africa have common interests and are fully committed to maintain their privileged partnership. “The two continents are geographically close and need to work together to address key development challenges such as migration. Africa and Europe are neighbours and will always be connected. Therefore, strengthening the partnership and investing in human networks between the two continents will bring benefits from and for both sides.”

 

Mr. Van Rompuy further indicated that tremendous progress has been made in different areas such as continental integration through trade and infrastructure, collaborative research, student mobility between the two continents, and many more, adding that more still needs to be done.

 

Education is not a goal in itself but at the service of young generations...our ultimate goal is creating a good future for the next generations. Education is not enough but without it, you just go nowhere
Herman Van Rompuy

Education and development

 

Discussing the ‘education and development’ theme, Mr. Van Rompuy highlighted that the quality of leadership is key to quality education. “I'm here as a Goodwill Ambassador of an NGO, VVOB, a very special one in our country, active in training teachers and school leaders. Education is about people, engaging people is key for the quality of education and that's why we focus on training teachers and school leaders. What we need is an education-led growth model. We need to enhance human capital. The quality of schools depends on leadership. We don't need only a just a manager we need a motivated, engaged, inspiring leader. We need high quality teachers and school masters,” Mr. Van Rompuy said.

 

“Education is not a goal in itself but at the service of young generations. When looking at my grandchildren, it reminds me that our ultimate goal is creating a good future for the next generations. Education is not enough but without it, you just go nowhere," he said.

 

For Prof. Philip Cotton, the UR Vice-Chancellor, the focus should be on youth. "We want to liberate youth, we want to create independent and liberated people. We want to sense transformation, we want to transform people. We see it in the work of VVOB!"

 

Visiting VVOB supported schools

 

Mr. Van Rompuy also visited Duha Complex school, a twelve-year basic education school in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province. At this school, three teachers including a mentor teacher, and two maths and science subject leaders took part in continuous professional development (CPD) certificate course in Educational Mentorship and Coaching last year. In addition, the head teacher and the deputy head teacher of this school completed a diploma course in Effective School Leadership. These CPD training programmes are offered by the University of Rwanda College of Education with VVOB support.

 

Aimable Mugisha is a school-based mentor at Duha Complex School. “At the beginning, all teachers had not understood the reasons for shifting from knowledge-based curriculum to a competency-based curriculum (CBC). After following a VVOB training we understood the benefits of this new learning and teaching methodology clearly. We also taught our colleagues, and all teachers now understand why it is essential to implement CBC. Teachers now impart knowledge more effectively and students’ motivation increased as a result,” he said.

 

After touring the school and meeting students both in primary and secondary education, Mr Van Rompuy commended teachers and school leaders for their efforts in improving quality education and encouraged them to keep up the good work. “In the classrooms, I saw the students working in groups. When I was a student, it was not like that. Through group work, we can see emulation, interaction and dialogue. And you're doing that not only with the learners but also among teachers, it's impressive and it can only improve the quality of education and the learning outcomes.”

 

For Sven Rooms, VVOB General Director who also participated in the visit, achieving education goals requires collaboration at all levels. “During the presentations, I learned that the school reduced dropout and increased completion rates. It’s not something we can achieve as VVOB alone. It’s up to teachers and school leaders. They are responsible for the change. Seeing the motivation and devotion we have in this room, I’m very confident we will achieve all our goals. Congratulations to you!”

What VVOB is doing is contributing to improving learning outcomes. Our teachers will all be able to teach better, and that’s how our learners can succeed. So thank you VVOB and the Belgian Government for the support
Angelique Tusiime, the Deputy Director General, REB
This programme is helping us to improve school leadership and management. We are raising the level of accountability among stakeholders in education, especially teachers and school leaders
Janvier Nkeramugaba, sector education officer, Kigabiro Sector

Meeting school leaders

 

Mr. Van Rompuy also met nine school leaders who gathered for a supportive professional learning community (PLC). PLC sessions are conducted on a regular basis and are a platform at sector level where school leaders meet with the objective of learning with and from each other through solving challenges and sharing good practices. A PLC is facilitated by a trained sector education officer.  

 

"This programme is helping us to improve school leadership and management. We are raising the level of accountability among stakeholders in education, especially teachers and school leaders," said Janvier Nkeramugaba, sector education officer of Kigabiro Sector.

 

Mr. Van Rompuy expressed his feelings about how school leaders apply new knowledge and skills acquired from training. “I'm very impressed by the methods you are learning in the VVOB-University of Rwanda College of Education programme and putting into practice in your schools. I can see they are making a difference: less dropouts and better results at the exams. We are doing all this to have a better quality of education. Education is key for having a job and a future, and if this method can contribute, it means our mission is a success.”

 

For Angelique Tusiime, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Education Board, ensuring that all children are in school, alone, is not enough. “We are currently climbing mountains, but we are managing to overcome all the challenges. We have to make sure all children go to school, and when they do, they receive quality education. What VVOB is doing is contributing to improving learning outcomes. Our teachers will all be able to teach better, and that’s how our learners can succeed. So thank you VVOB and the Belgian Government for the support.”

 

So far:

  • More than 500 school leaders completed a CPD diploma course in Effective School Leadership.
  • About 500 school-based mentors, SEOs and teacher training centre tutors attended a CPD certificate course in Educational Mentorship and Coaching.
  • Over 500 maths/science teachers benefited from a CPD certificate course in Educational Mentorship and Coaching.

 

By 2021, a total of approximately 1,300 primary and secondary schools will have benefited from the CPD training programmes, while 2,000 school leaders are expected to have benefited from the diploma course in Effective School Leadership. At the same time 3,000 teachers including science teachers will have completed a certificate programme in Educational Mentorship and Coaching. Read more about our  CPD training programmes

After the lecture at the University of Rwanda, it was time for group photo
Herman Van Rompuy chats with students at Duha Complex School
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy meets school leaders in Rwamagana District
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy