If you can’t get to a school, what can you do?
The annual monsoon floods in Bangladesh seriously hamper children’s education.
Climate change means that these yearly floods have become worse and prolonged and children can now go for months without having classes. A vast region of the country can stay under water between June to October
The solution? A floating school!
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha is the non-profit organization that introduced Bangladesh’s first floating school system.
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha overcame the challenge that the ecosystem of Bangladesh poses and found an innovative way to deliver information and education to residents. Shidhulai has transformed the regions waterways into pathways for education, information and technology. Shidhulai has converted boats into schools, libraries, healthcare and trainings centers to the isolated waterside communities.
Incredibly, during the height of monsoon a boat school moves from door to door to ensure children can continue with their education. Founder Mohammed Rezwan, says, “Instead of the students going to school, the school reaches them.”
There are over 100 innovative and sustainable boats that pick children for school and the learning begins once the boat docks.
Each boat school has around 30 students and they are supplied with electronic resources and hundreds of books. Even more incredible is that some of the boat schools have a playground on their upper level. Children attend classes for 2-3 hours a day, six days a week and for many, this will be all the education they receive.
Boats are also fitted with solar panels which can then power lights and computers.
Mr. Rezwan, a Bangladeshi architect, designed the schools by modifying traditional Bangladeshi wooden boats called noka. They are about 15 meters long and 3 meters wide and have weatherproof roofs that can withstand heavy monsoon rains and supported by arched metal beams.
These solar-powered floating schools are a work of genius and so inventive. As reported on the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) website,
The solar lighting makes the school schedule flexible, and after school many students take home a recharged, low-cost solar lantern. The lanterns provide light at night by which children can study and women can stitch quilts to earn extra income. In the evening, the boats project educational programs onto large sail cloths which people can watch from their own courtyards.
Under adversity, the more resilient and creative people become and unsurprisingly, the floating schools is a WISE award winner.
This sort of puts things in perspective again.