Link works with schools, local communities and government to improve the quality of education. Together we help girls and boys to learn better and develop the foundational skills they need to lead productive and happy lives. All of our work is based on a “whole district approach”. Rather than creating islands of excellence, we work with every school in a district to help them make improvements that any school, anywhere, could make. We don’t build schools or buy furniture, as we have seen that schools can make big improvements with what they already have. We want to help them get to the root of the problem and make lasting change.
School Performance Review and Improvement Planning
We know that access to accurate information, used to good effect, empowers communities, schools and local government to improve the quality of education. However, accurate information and good management skills are not always available. Our innovative School Performance Review (SPR) process supports districts to collect, analyse, share and use information to improve the education which schools deliver. With this information, schools know where they should focus their resources to improve, and where they should celebrate good achievements. Schools can analyse their strengths and weaknesses and jointly agree on targets for their School Improvement Plan.
Social accountability monitoring - participation, transparency and accountability
Social Accountability Monitoring is when the people who use or benefit from a service, such as a school, are involved in assessing how good it is. Consultation with community members, parents, and learners is a core part of School Performance Review. Their opinions and experiences reflect how well a school is fulfilling its responsibilities and meeting children’s needs.
Schools hold community meetings or School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAM) to share the results of School Performance Review with the wider community. SPAMs make the school’s performance transparent, so everyone is aware of its strengths and weaknesses. Community members are encouraged to reflect on this and to add their own views.
The SPAM leads on to the participatory development of the School Improvement Plan (SIP). Through debate and consensus the school and the community decide which improvements to focus on for the next year. They agree on who is responsible for leading, supporting and checking on progress against each of the priorities, so everyone is held accountable for the roles they agreed to play.
Literacy Teaching & Learning
The ability to read and write is the foundation for all learning in school. If children don’t develop these skills early, they will be left behind. We focus on supporting the development of literacy in local languages as well as in English (the medium of instruction for many schools). In Malawi we encourage parents and communities to develop a reading culture and to help their children to learn to read. In Uganda we are training teachers in creative and interactive literacy teaching approaches.
We work in partnership with communities to overcome the barriers to girls’ attendance and achievement at school. We improve schools’ capacity to understand the challenges facing girls and make plans with the schools to address these. Schools are providing better academic opportunities for girls and supporting them during transition into adolescence. Parents are changing their attitudes and behaviour towards girls’ traditional roles in favour of education. Girls are becoming more confident and performing better at school.
School Governance - Community Engagement
School governing bodies like School Management Committees, Parent-Teacher Associations and Mother Groups create a bridge between the school and the wider community. Committee members are provided with training and support so they can act as community representatives in the school and increase support for education in the community. For example, they can encourage parents send their children to school on time and visit classrooms at the beginning of the school day to make sure both teachers and students turn up on time.
Our School Management Simulation Training is a unique tool to help school governing bodies and community members understand their roles, working alongside Headteachers and teachers for better school management.
School Leadership and Management
Link’s training for head teachers enables them to effectively manage school improvement in collaboration with their communities. The training enhances head teachers’ knowledge and skills in: Leadership, Managing School Improvement, Managing School Finances and Curriculum Management.
Our unique School Management Simulation Training is delivered through a board game played in small teams of head teacher, teachers, pupils, School Management Committees and Parent-Teacher Associations. Everybody plays, everybody has a role, and everybody has a voice. The training helps all stakeholders understand that their actions can improve teaching and learning, so they can make better School Improvement Plans.
Complementary Basic Education
Complementary Basic Education (CBE) gives children who have dropped out of school the chance to keep learning. Classes are run by local high school graduates and open at times to suit the community – so if children have dropped out of school due to early morning farming duties, CBE classes will take place in the afternoon. After attending CBE centres for one or two years, and catching up on work they have missed, children are ready to re-enrol in primary school to complete their education.
Working with Government
Our programmes work directly with local and central governments to bring about long-term systemic change. Rather than creating parallel systems, we build the capacity of governments to fulfil their duty to provide quality education for all. In partnership with governments we test and demonstrate innovative solutions to education challenges, and we seek to influence national policy so that successful projects can reach every child in the country.
Solar Connect uses solar power technology to help isolated, rural schools to improve. With training and support the school and district staff use the equipment to work and communicate electronically, rather than by paper and road, allowing teachers to spend more time in the classroom teaching. It also allows students to benefit from up-to-date resources, join computer clubs to improve their IT skills, and receive printed exam papers.
Post-conflict – rebuilding communities and food security through school
Katakwi in Northern Uganda has a recent history of instability, violence and drought. To help people to return to normal life, Link has turned schools, which in most cases are the only recognised or existing community structures in these rural communities, into central hubs for support, knowledge, care and opportunity. As well as improving education quality, in each school, a community group is trained to work with children to establish a school garden, with access to tools, seeds and cuttings. Working together, pupils and community learn valuable skills which enable them to be more self-reliant.