An environment that is safe and conducive to learning encourages children to attend school and improves their educational attainment. This includes ensuring that physical learning spaces are safe, secure and fit for purpose, as well as making sure schools are free from the threat of violence, abuse or exploitation.
Establishing school standards
In Malawi, Link introduced the first National Education Standards. These define the minimum requirements every school in the country must meet. The 26 standards are designed to ensure the safety of every child in school and relate to learning outcomes, the teaching process and school leadership and management.
In Rwanda, we collaborated with UNICEF to apply our expertise and experience gained in neighbouring countries to support the Ministry of Education in a review of the new national school inspection standards.
Adapting physical learning spaces
In deprived areas, girls can miss up to 12 weeks of school every year due to the challenges of menstruation. In Ethiopia, we supported the construction of low-cost community built female toilets and sanitation rooms, providing girls with a place to rest whilst menstruating. Girls say these improvements have encouraged them to stay in school.
For the first time in my experience, girls have ranked first at all grade levels which gives me so much happiness. This is evidence that Link’s interventions are working.Headteacher, Ethiopia
It’s not just physical buildings that need to be fit for purpose to aid learning, the learning environment must be safe and free from harm. That’s why we work with schools to develop guidelines for reporting child-protection issues and to raise awareness of school-related gender-based violence.
In Ethiopia, we trained stakeholders across 140 schools to identify and tackle gender-based violence to reinforce school safety. We installed reporting boxes in each school and embedded systems to make sure pupils can report concerns with confidence and that appropriate corrective action will be taken.
Developing materials and resources
Showing teachers and community members how to develop teaching materials from local resources is a cost-effective, sustainable solution to the persistent lack of books and resources in some regions.
This model also ensures the supply of materials in local languages, which is often overlooked by governments. In Uganda, teachers have made simple word charts, matching games, and more complex and challenging items like toy TVs and ‘word computers’.