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COVID-19’s pressure on education is not letting up. While many learners are still out of school, some countries are cautiously reopening their education institutions – or thinking ahead about how they will do so when the time comes. The same goes for VVOB: business as usual is not an option. Will COVID-19 have an impact on our thematic choices? Should it? While many things remain uncertain, one thing is sure: VVOB is looking forward and taking every opportunity to build back better constructively with our valued partners, Mastercard Foundation and LEGO Foundation among the most prominent.

Mastercard Foundation and VVOB turn to digital to build resilience

On 16 March 2020, all education institutions in Rwanda closed in immediate response to the first confirmed case of COVID-19. Approximately 2.5 million primary learners and 600,000 secondary school students were affected.


The Government’s Rwanda Education Board (REB) acted swiftly. To mitigate the impact of school closures on learners’ education, the capacity of its existing e-learning platform was doubled, and a radio learning programme and YouTube channel were launched. While these initiatives have catered to many learners, teachers and school leaders, most are left out because they lack the necessary infrastructure. Moreover, the majority of teachers and school leaders are not equipped to deliver distance education, or facilitate online learning.

The end goal of VVOB and the Mastercard Foundation is to ensure key educators have the competencies and skills needed to manage future health crises that disrupt education. Find more information in the project’s factsheet and on the website of VVOB in Rwanda.

We need to step up support to mitigate learning losses, particularly among the most vulnerable. This is an opportunity, a chance to invest in the future. Enabling educators to deliver e-learning can lead to a fairer and more equitable world
Rica Rwigamba, Country Head for Rwanda, Mastercard Foundation

LEGO Foundation and VVOB go big with learning through play initiatives in 3 countries

As some countries have moved to a very gradual reopening of schools, we face an enormous challenge: How do we make up for lost time learning? And how do we make sure that every learner, the most vulnerable ones included, find their way back to school and continue learning in a way that safeguards their physical and socioemotional wellbeing?

With ‘Supporting children's Post-COVID Learning in South Africa, Vietnam and Zambia’ (over $1 million), the LEGO Foundation has enabled VVOB to respond quickly and appropriately to the new educational challenges:

  • The project in South Africa centres on the development of online trainings for teachers and school leaders to set up new or use existing professional learning communities to address challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 and how learning through play can help respond to issues of socioemotional wellbeing in primary school learners.
  • The project in Vietnam centres on the development of short television clips for teachers and parents to apply learning through play in their daily practice. The series focuses on the five developmental domains young children are expected to excel in to participate fully in primary school, and that learning through play is known to foster. Eight ‘Play-day’ events across the country provide children and their teachers or parents with the chance to experience the learning-through-play activities first-hand.
  • The project in Zambia centres on getting the play-based Catch Up project ready for national scaling in response to the worsened learning crisis by school closures.


Together, VVOB and the LEGO Foundation want to make sure that learning losses are minimised with learning through play, and that young learners’ physical and socioemotional wellbeing is prioritised. Find more information about the project here and about the evidence behind learning through play here.