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300,000+ vulnerable people were reached last year with improved, more inclusive education, income-generating opportunities and services.

Quality education for all

Teacher and little girl ©VSO, VSO / Mussa Uwitonze

Alice Isingizwe, 8, who is deaf. and her teacher Alphonsine Musabyemariya from Ngwino Nawe, the village for disabled children in Nyamasheke. VSO is supporting the school with expert volunteers to improve the quality of education. ©VSO/Mussa Uwitonze

Nearly all Rwandan children are enrolled in primary school, but the quality of much education is a cause for concern. Children are leaving school without a decent level of literacy and numeracy. There are also high rates of repetition, especially the first year of primary, which is repeated by 70% of children.

The Government of Rwanda introduced early childhood education (ECE) in 2013 to combat some of these issues. However, most teachers are unqualified and struggling with a lack of resources.

VSO Rwanda is supporting the Ministry of Education to improve the quality of primary and pre-primary education by working in schools and with all established teacher training colleges in the country to build teachers’ ability to use learner-centred teaching methodologies to improve the quality of learning, even in very low-resource settings.

Recent results

  • 250,000+ children were reached through improved learner-centred teaching
  • Trained 4,000+ in-service teachers, 7,000 trainee teachers to improve their skills and knowledge
  • Supported 371 schools to prepare development plans, with training for their head teachers


Social inclusion and governance

Rwanda National Paralympic Committee member playing seated volleyball ©VSO/Ben Langdon

Jean Paul Ngilimana, a member of the National Paralympic Committee who have been supported by VSO since their beginnings.

Between 5-15% of Rwandans are estimated to live with a disability. This group is more likely to be uneducated and live in poverty. Around a quarter of people in households headed by a person with disability live on less than 241 RWF (24p) per day, and there are still gaps in accessing healthcare and education.

VSO has been instrumental in achieving improved disability rights over the past 10 years. We have informed policy changes and played a key role in the formation of groups to represent people with disabilities at the national level. We look at social inclusion in all our projects from education, to livelihoods and beyond.

Recent results:

  • 1,000+ local authority staff supported to mainstream disability in services they provide
  • Trained 2,357 people with disability to know their rights and awareness of services
  • 700 children with disabilities displayed improved ability in schools supported by VSO


Beekeepers in Rwanda | VSO ©VSO/Peter Caton

Members of a beekeeping co-operative in Shori village, including women and people with disability, who have been supported by VSO volunteers to increase their productioon and incomes. 

Officially, 40% of Rwandans are living in poverty. Overall, 8 in 10 people live on less than 727 (72p) per day. Most people are engaged in small-scale agriculture, often for subsistence rather than profit. Four in ten people are aged under 30, with a graduate unemployment rate of 13% pointing to the challenge of finding jobs for this growing youth population.

VSO has been supporting the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities, people living with HIV, orphans of genocide and unemployed young people to boost their income-generating potential by forming co-operatives. We provide technical and business training to boost skills and earnings.

Recent results:

  • Around 4,000 people benefited from a family member supported as part of a co-operative
  • 55 co-operatives across seven districts supported in total

Maternal, child and youth health

Child malnutrition is a pressing issue across Rwanda and has been prioritised by the Government. The most recent statistics suggest that around 4/10 children under 5 is stunted, posing serious risks to development and learning. Young people are less likely to access health services and so are more at risk of poor sexual reproductive health.

VSO’s health programme is being established in order to improve child and youth health across Rwanda.

What makes VSO different?

VSO is a leading development partner that has been reducing poverty and inequality in Rwanda through the lasting power of volunteering, since 1998.

We have a strong track record of working closely with the Government to deliver improved services and capacity, with a specific focus on reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society: children, youth, women and people with disabilities. We are committed to supporting Rwanda to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2020, a national plan for transitioning to a zero-poverty, middle income, knowledge-based society.

Our volunteering for development approach brings together the best international expertise with the contributions of committed and dedicated Rwandans to build capacity, boost collaboration, increase participation and extend the reach of services to the poorest and most marginalised.

"Working with VSO from the very start of our organization has been crucial. Our partnership is the foundation of all the good models that we are practicing today"

Louis Ngabonziza, Director, Nyabihu Deaf School

Our partners

Our valued funding partners include UNICEF, DFID and USAID.

We have strong relationships with ministries including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Local Government.

Other valued implementing partners and allies include the National Union of Disability Organisations in Rwanda (NUDOR), teacher training colleges and cooperative associations.

In 2015/16, our support led to demonstrable improvements in our partners’ capacity and service delivery including in enhanced:

  • Inclusion
  • Planning processes
  • Data collection
  • Continual professional development
  • Income generation

Latest news

Father and children at primary school in Rwanda | VSO

Back to school as a father of three

Gratien Nshimiyimana fought to go back to primary school - the same one his children attend - after his childhood education was cut short by Rwanda's 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis. Now he is passionate champion of education involved, along with his children, in a VSO project to establish high quality early childhood education across the country for all children.

"My son has begun to speak"

Charles Sibomana, 11, has suspected intellectual disabilities. He was always mute in school and remained separate from other children. Since his teacher at Gahanga Primary school was trained by VSO, his performance is improving, he is mixing with other children, and has even begun to speak.

Volunteering couple Jan and Ann with children in Rwanda | VSO

Happy bellies for brighter futures: Volunteers' project feeds hungry children

Shocked by levels of malnutrition in the country, volunteering couple Jan and Ann started their own project to give a hundred nursery aged children in Rwanda a hot meal at school every day.

Marcel Bakanirora takes his class at Bisusa school under the guidance of VSO volunteer Mike Ashby

Improving teacher literacy and numeracy skills in Rwanda

The Literacy, Language and Learning (L3) project in Rwanda strengthens the teaching skills of student teachers in English, Kinyarwanda and numeracy.

Sifa, 14 years old, with VSO volunteer Jo Doyne, working as a SEN specialist in conjunction with Rwanda Aid

Improving the quality of primary level teaching in Rwanda

Training in inclusive learner-centred methods to improve the quality of teaching and learning at primary level

Theoneste Habiyaremye, local nursery teacher with Rhea Villarico, VSO volunteer, creating a more dynamic and interactive nursery environment for pre-primary aged children.

Strengthening pre-service teacher training in Rwanda

Strengthening pre-service teacher training with learner-centred teaching techniques

Contact us

Papa Diouf, Country Director, Rwanda

VSO Rwanda Director Papa Diouf

Country Director: Papa Diouf
Head of Programmes: Michael Opio
Education advisers: Ruth Mbabazi and Damien Gregory
Governance and inclusion adviser: Sarah Challoner
Livelihoods adviser: Philbert Hakizimana
Health adviser: Sophia Mutoni

Considering partnering with us?

We would very much like to hear from you. Please reach out to:

Full address:

VSO Rwanda 
P.O. Box 4599
KG 625 Street, House N 12
Kimihurura Sector
Imihigo Village
Gasabo District

Interested in volunteering?

We urgently need committed and experienced professionals to help deliver transformational change in Rwanda.

volunteer in Rwanda

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