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Introduction and context

VVOB has been instrumental in fostering, organising and maintaining Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) of headteachers in Rwanda at sector level, to improve headteachers’ leadership competencies. PLNs brought headteachers together to learn from one another to improve learning achievements in students. As part of this programme, 120 Sector Education Officers (SEOs) were trained in coaching and facilitating PLNs, and they gained insight on the latest knowledge about effective school leadership and effective PLNs. Most of the SEOs conducted three PLN sessions with headteachers in their sector, with eight conducted for the headteachers in the pilot. Headteachers have continued to engage with PLNs after the initial pilot, though the time headteachers now meet is decided by them.


As part of the PLN programme, VVOB also launched a PLN magazine, Urunana rw’Abarezi, which created a platform for sharing experiences on PLNs and effective school leadership. The magazines document best practice. It is published by the Rwanda Education Board with VVOB support and distributed to school leaders across the country.


Emerging findings from an impact study conducted by VVOB suggested that these PLN sessions had an impact on the motivation of teachers in participating headteachers’ schools. The key indicators for this were reduced teacher absenteeism and teachers reportedly taking on more responsibility. Headteachers indicated during focus group discussion that the changes they made had increased teacher motivation in their schools. Exploring this increased motivation was, however, outside the scope of the initial impact study. In July 2017, VVOB commissioned Education Development Trust to conduct a small-scale qualitative research study. The study explored the extent to which PLNs impacted on the motivation of teachers whose headteachers had been engaged in PLNs. The study also looked at the ways in which headteacher’s intrinsic motivation increased as a direct result of their involvement in PLNs.


Purpose of the research

The aims and objectives of the research were to:
  • explore headteachers’ perceptions of the impact of PLNs on their own intrinsic motivation
  • explore headteachers’ perceptions of the impact of their resulting actions on teachers’ intrinsic motivation
  • explore teachers’ perceptions about how and why their own motivation was improved
  • explore the teachers’ perceptions about the impact of the PLNs on their headteacher’s behaviours.


This research was conducted for VVOB by Education Development Trust’s specialist research and consultancy team. The project was staffed by a small team of specialist educational researchers (Rachael Fitzpatrick and Anna Riggall) and a senior international consultant (Lucy Crehan).