At Link Education

A Statement of Intent and Action

The murder of George Floyd on May 25 2020 and the outrage that his death caused around the world thanks to the advocacy of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked conversation around issues of racism in the aid sector. Aware as never before of our colonial past, as well as the colonial structure upon which the aid industry is created, we at Link Education have reflected a lot on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism and decided to act. Putting into practice the teachings of Paulo Freire and his calls for union and consciousness of privileges and disadvantages, we have pledged to:

  • Recognise our role in enabling racism in our organisation and in the aid sector as a whole, and our responsibility to challenge this
  • Elevate local voices and expertise, going beyond the simple use of the ‘localisation’ jargon as a disguise
  • Relinquish power for a more locally-led development approach as part of the Shift the Power agenda 

On top of locally-led interventions that Link applied more than 15 years ago, such as the establishment of Link Malawi and Link Uganda as independently constituted national NGOs governed by their own Board of Trustees, we want to continue more intentionally our journey to locally-led development. From 2020 to date, this has been translated into a set of actions that, in line with Link’s Five Strategic Goals 2021-2030, includes:

  • Having Link employees and trustees participate in Unconscious Bias Training to understand the prejudices we have been brought up with and how to challenge them, on an individual and organisational basis.
  • In the spirit of distributed leadership, establishing an International Management Team (IMT) made up of the Country Director in each country where Link operates to redress the power imbalances that previously saw decision-making centralised in the UK.
  • Asking all Link employees to anonymously complete Bond’s ‘Becoming locally-led’ survey in preparation for a workshop. Our findings showed that across Link, staff felt that progress has been made in ‘Values and Culture’, ‘Programmes and Partnerships’ and ‘Communications and Marketing’, with work still required in strategy, governance, HR, funding relationships, advocacy and evaluation.  Our subsequent webinar with Link staff discussed the survey results, celebrated examples of good performance, and prioritised focus areas for future work. 
  • Developing a Language Guide set around five guiding principles—being accessible, power-conscious, system-focused, inclusive and diverse, positive and friendly—to guide all Link communication tools, from social media to in-depth reporting.
  • Establishing a series of South-led internal online webinars called ‘Linkages’ to ensure that voices from the Global South are included in the humanitarian and development debate in general and into Link’s programming specifically. 
  • Participating in the Steering Committee of the Working Group on Practice for Locally- Led Development at Bond UK, sharing with other members our journey while learning from others.
  • Encouraging South-to-South learning, inaugurated with Link Uganda Finance and Administration Manager (FAM) visiting Addis Ababa to induct the newly recruited Link Ethiopia FAM.
  • Relocating key strategic functions to the South, starting with the Knowledge and Impact Manager based in Uganda with responsibility for supporting Link-wide MEAL. 
  • Enhancing representation from the Global South, by having colleagues from Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda representing Link at international conferences.

We believe that locally-led development is particularly in tune with our work as educationalists, as we are cognisant that improving education is a process that constantly evolves and requires change within ourselves and our organisation. 

Thus, we are ready to challenge our own power so that Link’s model can support sustainable, accountable, and scalable low-cost, high-impact education provision, where decisions are based on evidence, and everyone can participate and benefit.