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Rwanda - Girls on MARS
Mathematics Achievements in Rwandan Schools (Girls on MARS)
Four districts in Eastern Province and two districts in Western Province
2017 - 2021
€ 4,159,000
Primary education
Professional development of teachers (INSET) and school leaders; equity

The large majority of pupils are in school in Rwanda. Going forward, the challenge is to target those children who are the hardest to reach and to make sure children in school are actually learning.

Learning outcomes are still very low in Rwanda: 37 per cent of primary school pupils do not achieve the learning objectives for reading, while 46 per cent of pupils in the fourth grade do not achieve the objectives for numeracy. In Eastern Province and Western Province, pass rates are considerably lower for girls than for boys. 

Effective school leadership and induction of newly qualified teachers can help in addressing these challenges. Six districts (533 schools) were selected for the programme based on an analysis of dropout rates in primary education and the gap in mathematics examination results between boys and girls.


Primary school principals, mentor teachers, and newly qualified teachers have the competences to improve the learning outcomes in mathematics of primary school pupils in a gender-responsive environment, especially for girls, through effective implementation of the competence-based curriculum.


The Girls on MARS programme centres on strengthening the professional development opportunities for primary school leaders on the one hand, and on improving the mentorship system for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) on the other.

The programme is built around three pillars:

  • Enhancing the diploma course training on school leadership for head teachers.
  • Improving the professional learning networks (PLNs) for head teachers. 
  • Strengthening NQTs through an effective mentorship system.

Each pillar contributes to the effective implementation of the Ministry of Education’s (MINEDUC) competence-based curriculum to improve learning outcomes in maths in a gender-responsive environment, especially for girls.

By the end of the Girls on MARS programme:

University of Rwanda – College of Education (URCE) will have: 

  • redeveloped the content of the diploma course for school leaders, with attention for equity topics and the competence-based curriculum;
  • implemented and evaluated the revised diploma course for school leaders; 
  • developed and implemented a coaching certification course for Section Education Officers to lead and coach PLNs for head teachers; 
  • developed, implemented, and evaluated a mentorship certification course for NQT mentor teachers.

Rwanda Education Board (REB) will have: 

  • designed a decentralised approach to build school leadership capacity, and will have implemented and evaluated continuous professional development of head teachers in PLNs;
  • evaluated the mentorship system of NQTs developed by URCE.

To reach its goals, VVOB Rwanda develops the capacity of its partners. VVOB uses capacity development trajectories that give partners maximal responsibility in the execution and management of their own change processes. This is done through technical assistance provided by the VVOB Rwanda team, which includes both local and international educational and change management experts.