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Former EU President Herman Van Rompuy spent a week in September getting to know the Rwandan education system in his capacity as VVOB’s Goodwill Ambassador. He met with students and educators alike and shared some of his insights during a lecture at the University of Rwanda.

Visiting VVOB’s partner schools

The delegation from Belgium travelled to Rwamagana District in Eastern Province to visit Duha Complex School. The school caters to over 900 secondary students, 62 per cent are girls. VVOB invests in the professional development of teachers and school leaders to ensure their students have the best chances at decent work and a bright future.


Mr Van Rompuy toured the school’s complex and met with students in primary and secondary education, and with teachers and school leaders. He commended them for their hard work and spoke words of encouragement 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. That is impressive, it will lead to improved quality of education and learning outcomes.”


Tip: hover over the pictures for more context.

Mr Van Rompuy arrives at Duha Complex School with VVOB staff
Mr Van Rompuy discusses with school leaders from Duha Complex School
Mr Van Rompuy visits secondary students in the classroom
Mr Van Rompuy visits secondary students in the classroom

Engaging with school leaders

Talking about peer interaction: Van Rompuy also listened to the experiences of nine school leaders involved in professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs are organised regularly and function as platforms for school leaders to share good practices for shared challenges and to learn from each other. These PLCs are facilitated by local government officers – sector education inspectors – with VVOB’s support.


School leaders also benefit from a VVOB-supported diploma course in Effective School Leadership offered at the University of Rwanda – College of Education, a prime partner institution of VVOB.


Mr Van Rompuy expressed his feelings about how school leaders apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills. “I'm very impressed by the methods you are learning in the course, and how you are putting it 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.”

From left to right: VVOB Chairperson Stefaan Van Mulders; Belgian Ambassador to Rwanda Benoît Ryelandt; Herman Van Rompuy; VVOB General Director Sven Rooms; VVOB Programme Manager for Rwanda Jef Peeraer
School leaders share their experiences with PLCs and the Effective School Leadership diploma course

Addressing university students

Mr Van Rompuy was also invited by our partners at the University of Rwanda to deliver a lecture. As the former EU President, he is better place than anyone to share insights on EU-African relations.



The EU-African relationship, Mr Van Rompuy said, is about investing in people, prosperity and security. A lot of progress has been made in terms of continental integration through trade and infrastructure, collaborative research, student mobility between the two continents… and there is room for much more: “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. We need to work together to tackle key development challenges.”


Mr Van Rompuy also shared his two cents on the importance of education for development: “We need an education-led growth model. We need to enhance human capital. At VVOB, we don’t just focus on training teachers, but also on school leaders, because the quality of education depends on good leadership. We don’t need a school manager; we need a motivated, engaged, inspiring school leader. Let’s create a good future for the next generations. Education might not be enough, but without it, we go nowhere.”

Full house for Mr Van Rompuy's lecture at the University of Rwanda
Mr Van Rompuy discussed EU-African relations and the importance of education for development
“We need an education-led growth model. We need to enhance human capital"
After the lecture: a group picture!

Mr Van Rompuy as VVOB’s Goodwill Ambassador since 2015

Throughout his career, Mr Van Rompuy has been an advocate for both development cooperation and education, believing the latter is a catalyst for the former. This is why he commends VVOB’s endeavours to improve quality education for all. He expressed his commitment to support VVOB when he became the organisation’s Goodwill Ambassador in 2015:


“Quality education opened doors and created opportunities for me. Worldwide, quality education is pivotal in achieving sustainable development. It allows every child to realise his or her full potential. Together with ministries of education and education institutions around the world, VVOB’s interventions help ensure better learning for all children. That is why I support VVOB and I hope you will do the same.”