Leaders in teaching case study v2
Case study

Learning partners for the Leaders in Teaching initiative in Rwanda

Generating evidence and facilitating continuous improvement within a five-year initiative to improve teaching and learning in Rwandan secondary education


There is an urgent need to strengthen the quality and relevance of secondary-level teaching and learning in sub-Saharan Africa. This challenge has accelerated over the last couple of decades, due to increased demand for secondary education, the increasing number of jobs requiring knowledge and skills relevant to 21st century challenges, the rapid growth of emerging economies and the introduction of new technologies. In response, the Mastercard Foundation’s Leaders in Teaching initiative aims to mobilize and support teachers and leaders who are at the front lines of education, and prepare young people for meaningful employment. It will do this through a number of teacher training programs delivered by five implementing partners in Rwanda.

As learning partners on the five-year initiative, Laterite and the REAL Centre are responsible for generating ongoing evidence of improved teaching and learning within the initiative. As part of this work, the learning partners aim to improve the knowledge base regarding teaching quality and STEM subjects in Rwandan secondary education and beyond.


Laterite and the REAL Centre are working to generate evidence and provide holistic support that facilitates continuous improvement within Leaders in Teaching. The partnership includes a number of interconnected work streams:

  • Providing technical and capacity building support to implementing partners to support them to incorporate evidence into their decision-making processes where relevant
  • Carrying out large-scale quantitative and qualitative research at 360 schools in 14 districts of Rwanda to develop research and learning insights using various methodological approaches. These include surveys, phone surveys, focus group discussions, classroom observations, student numeracy assessments, and teacher knowledge assessments
  • Delivering insights that are timely and useful, especially in the evolving context of COVID-19 and its wide-ranging impacts for education in Rwanda
  • Facilitating knowledge-sharing within the initiative via publications, and internal newsletter, and bi-annual learning webinars
  • Ensuring that program and policy improvements are informed by high-quality, context-relevant evidence.


Laterite and the REAL Centre have worked with Leaders in Teaching implementing partners and delivered research outputs on several relevant topics for secondary education in Rwanda. The annual learning synthesis outlines key systemic factors associated with teaching and learning quality in Rwandan secondary education, drawing from learning partner research carried out in 2019-20. This broad body of research covers topics such as:

  • definitions of teaching quality and drivers of motivation from the perspective of Rwandan secondary school teachers
  • the relationship between school leadership and student outcomes
  • the effects of school closures due to COVID-19 on matters such as teacher attitudes, pedagogical approaches, student enrolment, and student learning
  • the drivers of student numeracy assessment scores, and the associations between equity issues (such as gender, school type, location, student age) and teaching and learning outcomes
  • changes in the allocation of school infrastructure and ICT resources over time
  • trends in student enrolment and implications of this for future planning of school resources.

The outcomes of this work are being used to refine research instruments and guide future research, and to inform programming decisions within the initiative. In addition, the learning partners are sharing real-time evidence with policy-makers. This work contributes to the wider body of research regarding secondary teaching and learning with a focus on STEM subjects in East Africa.


Image credit: Etienne Ntawigira / VVOB Rwanda