During Monsoon, incessant rain creates extreme flooding almost throughout Bangladesh, making it impossible for the children to go to school for a significant part of the year. However, the country has overcome this perpetual problem of disruption in education by providing schooling in floating boats. It has proved increasingly effective in providing education to vulnerable children. This unique service is being offered by a non-profit organization known as Shidulai Swanirvar Sanstha, which has 56 solar-powered boats which are used for schooling purposes.
In a country where the rainy season makes the roads impassable, floods the villages and disturbs education for months, these floating schools have provided education to more than 70,000 children since 2002.
How Did It Start?
Months of long interruptions during every rainy season motivated Mohammed Rezwan to come out with the concept of schools on boats for going to the children to impart education. He founded the organization in 2002, introduced his first boat, then donations poured in and made his concept a grand success.
Specifications Of Floating Boat
These boats are large and spacious enough to accommodate 30- 35 students. Every boat is equipped with a library, laptops and other electronic/electrical gadgets. Particularly for the girls and young women, it is education at their doorstep and this also offers them easy access to the latest technology. There are also the facilities of a health clinic, a solar workshop training centre. The students can use technology, watch educational shows, draw digital pictures and visit educational websites.
Classes are provided to both children and adults. The children are taught up to fourth grade and the adults are taught all essential skills in Bangladesh’s agricultural economy. It is a country where most of the villages in the far off areas have no electricity, the children are also provided with a portable, low cost, solar-powered lantern to enable them to study at home.
In Nigeria, the Makoto neighbourhood in Lagos has similar problems of excessive rain, inundation and water logging in low lying areas. Because of this 2,50,000 people get affected and are unable to provide undisturbed education to their children. Kunkle Adeyemi, an architect, built Makoko a three-storied floating school, making it spacious enough to offer education to 100 students in the boat. However, in 2016, the boat collapsed in heavy rain and a new advanced type of boat is under process to replace the collapsed one.
A floating school is also in operation at Loktak Lake in Manipur. As there is no school around the lake area, the floating school provides year-round access to education for the local students. The local community is also introducing modern skills and technology to impress the next generation. The classes are up to eight and the education is absolutely free with the Indian Government’s financial assistance.
In Bangladesh, particularly where boating is a part of life, the floating schools have reduced the school dropout rate and are helping in increasing the literacy rate. It is particularly beneficial for the girls. The floating boats are serving as health centres in inaccessible areas. The farmers are also being trained in the skills of cultivating flood-resistant crops. Thus Bangla Desh is using the unique system to its fullest advantage, and it is a lesson that the floating boat system can be replicated in any river-based community.