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Since 2010, three Belgian development organisations BTC (the Belgian Delevelopment Agency), APEFE (Association pour la Promotion de l’Education et de la Formation à l’Etranger) and VVOB (Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance) are implementing a joint programme on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Rwanda. We are working together in the framework of a shared Partnership Agreement, under one single direction with a corporate budget of approximate 10 million euro. Before the start of the Belgian Common TVET Programme, we were all working independently in Rwanda.

The participation of VVOB and APEFE was planned to end in December 2013, since this is part of our Multi-Year Programme 2011-2013. Recently we addressed a request to the Belgian Director-General for Development Cooperation to have an extension of our contribution for two years until 2015.

The objective of the programme

The programme is working  in partnership with the Workforce Development Authority (WDA), the national structure in charge of the TVET policy implementation within the Ministry of Education. The aim is to pursuit the implementation of the new TVET system based on Competence- Based Training in sixteen pilot schools.

To achieve this objective, resources of each organisation have been brought together to form a new strong bond. In order to ensure the effectiveness of this new structure, one organisation (BTC) has been chosen to take the lead.

Jointly, these three organisations provide technical assistance in selected areas of intervention, each of them in its own expertise:

  • VVOB for curriculum development and school management
  • APEFE for training of trainers in pedagogy and in learners’ assessment with the aim of improvement of the curriculum implementation at school level
  • BTC for provision of equipment and infrastructure

Looking back at the beginning of the initiative

We interviewed Georges Lenain (Programme Administrator, APEFE) and Marie-Pierre Ngoma (Curriculum Advisor, VVOB Rwanda) as they were present from the beginning of the programme and they are the pioneers of this collaboration.

Marie-Pierre: “Our three organisations were active in the Rwandan TVET sector during the past ten years. From 2005 to 2008, VVOB gave appropriate technical support to the ‘Vocational Training Centre Kavumu’ with one technical assistant focusing on organisational and individual capacity development and with a financial contribution of BTC.”

Georges: “APEFE had been very active in the TVET sector since 1999. The APEFE projects were supporting 21 public Vocational Training Centres, the former ‘Centres de Formation des Jeunes’.”

Marie-Pierre: “At the beginning, the three Belgian organisations worked with the Rwandan Ministry of Public Service and Labour as a main partner in the TVET sector. In 2007 the bilateral Belgian cooperation had a budget of 5 million euro for the education sector. The year after, these organisations in agreement with the Belgian Development Cooperation, decided to collaborate and create more synergies including the remaining budget in one single programme”.

Georges: “It was more convenient to join the projects for following reasons: a TVET subcluster was put in place to coordinate different donors. The leadership was given to the German Cooperation, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and for APEFE as a small partner, it was difficult to influence the decision process. Having one Belgian entity would facilitate contacts and exchanges within the system. The Ministry of Public Service and Labour supported the new strategy of working with more coordinated Belgian organisations.”

Added values and challenges of a joint programme

On the one hand, the integration of all these different kinds of expertise is perceived as a real added value by the Rwandan partner and the three Belgian organisations. On the other hand, the administrative decision to have one single direction with a corporate budget can be considered as a day-to-day challenge. Some testimonials.


Synergies really increased as we started working in a same office environment including the exchange of best practices even at management level.
Gerrit Stassyns (Programme Manager VVOB since the end of 2009 up to now)


A general and integrated intervention to implement the new TVET programme from macro to micro levels is giving WDA the opportunity to comprehend the concrete challenges and requirements of this approach.
Georges Lenain (Programme Administrator APEFE/ Rwanda since 2002)


Expertise and specificities of the Belgian partners are complementary, but each partner struggles to maintain its identity and its visibility.
Wybe Van Halsema (Delegate to Co-Management for the Belgian Common Programme - BTC) and Gédéon Rudahunga (Director of Intervention of the Belgian Common Programme – WDA and former School Manager of the Vocational Training Centre Kavumu)


The presence of the Belgian Common Programme stimulates institutional collaboration and ownership at the national and provincial levels whereas it was more difficult before this joint intervention.
Simon Mudumiro (School Manager of Vocational Training Centre Nyanza)


The management of the common programme is a big challenge due to some organisational differences in procedures, rules and regulations.
Jean-Yves Saliez (BTC Resident Representative - Rwanda)


The common programme facilitated sharing experiences and expertise among technical assistants in their respective areas of intervention e.g. linking School Management and Competence-Based Approach interventions.
Marie-Pierre Ngoma (VVOB Curriculum Advisor from 2006-2013)


By Gemma Marie Musengeneza and Xavier Rosy
Technical Assistants in School Management and Leadership, VVOB Rwanda