Written by: Mohammed Rezwan, Executive Director, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha
In Bangladesh, flooding has become more severe, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha introduces a fleet of floating schools, libraries and training centre for uninterrupted education and information during the height of monsoon season.
The innovation is to ‘combine a school bus with the schoolhouse, and use the traditional wooden boat to create a floating space to bring primary education, information and training at the doorsteps’. School-boat goes to the children as the children can’t go to the school due to the lack of transportation during flooding in Bangladesh.
The school-boat collects children from various villages, then it docks and class begins, each boat has space for 30 students, internet-linked computer, and provides education up to grade V and its’ solar panels placed on the rooftop generate electricity to run onboard equipment and re-charge solar lanterns. Viewed from the riverbank, the community members see the school-boat as a ‘river turtle
Rima Khatun (7 years), study in Grade II on a school-boat in Pabna and she says “I like to come to our school-boat. Here we have books, solar power, computer and the internet. I love to use computer and learn new things. I want to be a schoolteacher to teach the children in my village”.
Nupur, Iti and Hasy are 8-year-old, study in Grade III on a school-boat in Natore, and Iti says “School comes to us and we love to get onboard and learn new things.”
Momotaz and Shumi are 7-year-old students in Grade 2, talk during the break at the class.
In Singra, a two-tier school-boat provides primary education and library services in the lower deck, but also runs training courses on the upper deck for women onchildren’s and women’s rights, sustainable farming, and adaptation toclimate change.
Afroza Khatun talks to the library users on the lower deck of a two-tier boat and says “I have been visiting floating library for last 10 years, here the computer aided training has enhanced our ability to understand and share ideas & opinions, and make decisions for better opportunities. We have been successful in ensuring girls’ access to education and preventing early marriage in our flood-prone village”.