Link is Scotland’s leading international education charity. For over 30 years, Link has been improving education for children and communities in some of the poorest rural areas of Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi. Samantha Ross, International Programme Director at Link Education, shared the importance of Link’s work to the achievement of the SDGs.
“Education is at the centre of achieving most, if not all, of the SDGs. If you have an educated population, people are then able to engage with the other broader issues encapsulated within the SDGs.”Samantha Ross
Spotlight on: Ethiopia
Since 2007, Link has improved the education and life chances of almost 98,000 children in Ethiopia, especially girls. Nicolò Di Marzo, country representative for Link in Ethiopia, spoke to us about Link’s Girls’ Education Challenge projects. These aim to remove the barriers girls face in accessing education, with around 61,000 girls enrolled in schools thanks to Link’s projects.
“We focus on the most marginalised, providing every child with access to a basic education. By focussing on the most marginalised, you benefit the whole population.”Nicolo Di Marzo
Returning to school after 13 years
To improve access to education for girls in rural areas of Ethiopia, four secondary schools have been built as part of the project. Nicolò shared a heart-warming story of one girl who, after a 13-year hiatus, was able to return to school and complete her secondary education thanks to one of these new schools.
Nicolò also highlighted the project’s emphasis on training more teachers and school leaders across Ethiopia – training in maths and literacy but also in social emotional skills which build the confidence and self-esteem of vulnerable learners. This not only increases girls’ access to education but also ensures a higher quality of education for every student.
Engaging with communities
Community engagement remains an integral part of Link’s work. This is exemplified by their efforts to strengthen Parent Teacher Associations, informing members of their role supporting their children’s education, and sharing messaging around the importance of sending all children, including girls, to school. Nicolò firmly believes that without the community’s support and involvement, no initiative could truly succeed.
“Nothing can work if we don’t have the buy-in of the community.”Nicolò Di Marzo
Transforming girls lives
A shining example of Link’s impact is seen through the transformative journey of one student. Initially, her parents believed that women would not achieve much through education, insisting that she focus on household tasks instead. However, Link have provided the resources her family couldn’t afford, including financial assistance, school supplies, and other essentials like sanitary products. Freed from the barriers that held her back, the student has flourished in her education, and her aspirations are now soaring.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, schools across Ethiopia were forced to close. Nicolò shared the disheartening reality that 72 girls from Link projects were forced into early marriages, and 18 became pregnant during this period. However, Link Ethiopia rose to the occasion, providing social support, child protection knowledge and building the capacity of parents and local structures to protect girls, enabling most of these students to continue their education.
“How can we talk about sustainable development when so many kids are actually out of school.”Nicolò Di Marzo
Conflict in Northern Ethiopia has posed significant obstacles to education’s progress over the past three years. Distressingly, it is estimated that 2.8 million children face educational disruption due to this conflict alone.
A brighter future
Despite these challenges, Link remain undeterred in their mission. Their unwavering dedication continues to inspire hope and transform the lives of thousands of children in Ethiopia. Through education, they believe that each child holds the power to shape their destiny and contribute to a brighter future for themselves and their communities.