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From 17 to 24 March, Stefaan Van Mulders, Chairperson of VVOB’s Board of Directors, visited Rwanda. The purpose of his visit was, among other things, to get to know VVOB’s programmes in their real context and witness their impact first hand, and to meet VVOB’s partners in the country. The visit coincided with the launch of Mastercard Foundation’s ‘Leaders in Teaching’ initiative, in which VVOB Rwanda will play an important part.

Meeting head teachers  

During the five-day visit, Mr Van Mulders went to different places and activity sites. He visited head teachers enrolled in a training course on effective school leadership in Eastern Province and interacted with both training facilitators and participants.

Mr Van Mulders recognises the importance of shared responsibilities in educating children. “It goes beyond consulting your colleagues or friends”, he advised head teachers. “Successful school leadership requires everyone’s involvement: school, teacher, parents and community.”  

Opening head teachers’ eyes

Ruth Mukaneza has been a head teacher at Muko Secondary School since 2014. She testified that the course is key to solving most of the school leadership related issues.
“I cannot blame myself for failures in school leadership. I was leading a school but wasn’t trained to lead. For instance, I wouldn’t care much about involving parents in issues concerning the school’s wellbeing. In this training, I learnt that constant collaboration between the school, teachers, parents, local leaders and the community is a must for effective education. Many thanks to VVOB for opening our eyes”, she said.

The training is part of VVOB’s 2017-2021 programme that supports the implementation of the competence based curriculum, through school leadership and induction of new teachers in basic education.  At the end of this training, participants will be awarded with a diploma in Effective School Leadership.

Committed school leaders

Mr Van Mulders also visited Gacuba Teacher Training College (TTC) in Western Province, which was included in VVOB’s first intervention in the new Rwanda in 2003. Its long serving head teacher, Gerard Bahizi, took part in a school management training programme which VVOB initiated in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

After meeting Mr Bahizi and other head teachers as well as VVOB Rwanda staff members, Mr Van Mulders now has a good idea of VVOB’s work and impact on the country’s education system: “I have a clear picture of what we are doing in Rwanda. I was impressed by the professional trainers and committed head teachers willing to improve and tackle the issues they’re confronted with”, he said.

Learnt more about Rwanda

Next to visiting schools and meeting school leaders and teachers, Mr Van Mulders also visited Mahama refugee camp that hosts over 50,000 Burundian refugees, Akagera National Park in Eastern Province, and Pfunda Tea Company in Western Rwanda. This gave him more impressions about the country in general.

“Rwanda is so organised, clean and disciplined compared to other countries”, he said. However, Mr Van Mulders thinks a lot still needs to be done to improve the education sector in Rwanda. “Visiting Rwanda made me realise there is more to the country, there are still big needs. We have to work very hard to close the gap”, he said.

According to Mr Van Mulders, needs that still need to be addressed include the large number of students in classrooms, access roads that need rehabilitation, and the lack of internet connection in schools.    

Partnership building

Talking about VVOB’s partnership with Mastercard Foundation’s ‘Leaders in Teaching’ initiative that was launched in Kigali on 22 March, Mr Van Mulders is very optimistic. “I am very happy about the partnership. We need to maintain a good relationship with the foundation and other partners. What we are doing is essential for the education system because we work with the right partners”, he said.

Regarding the implementation of the VVOB programmes in Rwanda, Mr Van Mulders commended the staff for the work done and urged them to continue as a team and deal with challenges together: “I am proud that we have a strong team with required capabilities. We must respect each other and our values to achieve our goals.”