Framework

A North-South cooperation can exist in very diverse forms. It often depends on the interests and capabilities of each school. Each school link is different.

A school link is a sustainable and equity-based partnership between schools in Flanders and schools in southern countries focusing on educational goals.

Sustainable

A school partnership is not a punctual result but a collaboration process that is not established in one day. As from the start, the long term vision has to be the ambition of both parties.

Sustainability also includes independence. In the long run, the school partnership cannot depend on the support of VVOB, nor can one school depend on the other. Stimulating independence from VVOB is a growing process. Therefore, a step-by-step plan (levels of school links) has been developed with indicators which the schools should gradually reach in order to keep receiving VVOB support.

Finally, we consider sustainability as a quality condition for the activities of schoolLinks. Ecological, economic and social interests go hand in hand with sustainable activities, for current as well as for future generations. We take the needs of the current generations in the north and in the south into consideration, without compromising the needs of the future generations.

Equity-based

Schools are always different. Especially when one school belongs to the southern part and the other to the northern part of the world. The background, context and position are fundamentally unequal. On the one hand, this diversity can be a source of exchange. On the other hand, it is logical that the motivation for the partnership, the priorities, the desires, the contributions and the way of communicating will be different for both parties.

The challenge lies within the acknowledgement of these differences, and in the ambition to establish a relationship that allows both parties to preserve their personality and to use it: the partners are unequal but their partnership has to be equity-based.

An equity-based partnership is rarely a reality; it is a continuous balance exercise, a goal that we try to reach through empathy and dialogue.

If one of the objectives of SchoolLinks is to teach values such as mutual respect and social justice, then it is indispensable that these values are inherent to the partnership itself. Both parties should have the opportunity to communicate their needs and should both gain as much as possible from this partnership. It is obvious that the keywords of this partnership are respect, openness and participation.

Partnership

The essence of a school partnership is a continuous process of collaboration. Not a one way transfer of knowledge or resources, an expendable joint activity or an official yet empty commitment is the goal of the partnership, but a collaboration process around joint themes and goals.

Collaborating implies gathering forces, a common input and a certain return. Reciprocity is an indispensable element of the partnership. This does not necessarily mean an equal contribution because the parties are not equal. Yet a mutual effort and commitment is essential. Both schools share responsibility for the success of the collaboration and the achievement of the objectives. A mutual benefit will be the result of such collaboration.

Educational goals

Education is the core business of schools. Therefore an international partnership focuses on educational goals.

The international collaboration process contributes to the development of knowledge, values, attitudes and skills and dealing with the challenges of a global society. At the same time, the exchange of experiences between teachers and schools can contribute to a reinforcement of the quality of education and school management.

At the same time, education on global citizenship can never be neutral. It causes feelings of indignation, and implies a call for action. Such actions can (but do not necessarily have to) be part of schoolLinks. Preferably, it is a tool to reinforce the partnership itself or to support certain educational goals. We should make sure that every action is part of a broader (educational) goal. Furthermore, the financial aspects should not be the objective of the partnership and it should not compromise the aspect of equivalence and reciprocity.