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Linking & Learning in 2020

Vibrant, flexible, different

By Inez Hackenberg Voice Global Linking and Learning Coordinator

The year 2020 was meant to be a vibrant year on Linking and Learning, with three (smaller) global knowledge exchanges, two Indaba’s, and an encounter of the global Linking and Learning community planned. Besides the many national festivals, summits, and other face-to-face exchanges and events planned.  

And it was a vibrant year, yet so different than any of us could have imagined. Where face-to-face gatherings became the exception, the online connections became a lifeline to trustworthy and accessible information on Covid-19. A space to share the stories, support each other’s work, organise peer to peer sharing of skills and knowledge, to do unconferencing and open space work, to check in with each other and to expand our imagination. Furthermore, more ways of working are being explored and tested, among others in the Philippines working along four pathways of learning.  

The change to virtual, online meetings, the sudden need for information and positioning in relation to Covid-19, the Linking and Learning was effected very differently in each country. In Uganda 2020 could be described as hybrid: partly physically meeting and visiting projects, partly online. It also was the time to bring together the exchange and learning into an overview of what the Voice programme entailed over the past number of years and how Linking and Learning found it’s shape and value. You’ll read here their excitement and how challenges were overcome 

Where the first batch of multi-country grantees only got to meet up once during an Indaba, the six grantees selected through the Call for Ideas From Open to Inclusive Governance -jointly executed with the Transparency and Accountability Initiative and the Hewlett Foundation- were to meet in person, to co-create a deeper understanding of the topic and to improve their project ideas. Then the pandemic crossed our paths, so something new needed to be designed to respond to these essential steps in the process and support to the grantees. What unfolded was a brilliant collaboration with the Coady Institute, agreeing to facilitate a virtual learning platform by adapting this course to the specific needs of the grantees and offering them coaching sessions to move from design to implementation. Our (former) colleague Tomas Pico Change passionately describes this journey. 

We see an increase in the participation of other stakeholders in grantee events and Communities of Practice. In general, a lot of learning on Communities of Practice as such, leading to changes in their set-up and in the active engagement of grantees in shaping these communities.  

Besides this, several surveys took place among grantees and rightsholder groups, to listen to their views on the Linking and Learning so far, to gather ideas what we can do better together. For example Voice in Nigeria Linking and Learning guidelines were publishedThese insights inform incoming Linking and Learning facilitators.  

So 2020 has been a year of transition, of closing off and learning, and of bringing new insights alive in how we want to work and inspire the linking and learning from April 2021 onwards. Yet also a year of exploration and trying and learning while we go, how to organise inspiring and participatory online moments to share, learn, seek guidance or just to talk with one another. 

A year of amazing resilience and adaptability and creativity, a year to remember. 


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