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Children study in a solar-powered floating school in a flood-prone area in Bangladesh. The ‘Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’ initiative is one of the winners of the 2012 WISE Awards.
By Fazeena Saleem
DOHA: The floating schools in Bangladesh, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha initiative, which was judged to have best provided innovative financing of primary education among the six WISE award winners, is expecting to broaden its services.
The organisation is looking forward to expand its work and provide people with more ‘floating’ services as the country’s 17 percent of land is in a danger of eroded by sea.
“If we get support we would be able to scale up,” said Mohamed Rizwan, Founder of Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha.
This year, one of the WISE Awards is for a project that, in addition to ‘Transforming Education’, has best provided innovative financing of primary education.
The winning project was Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, where solar powered floating schools ensure year-round primary education to students in flood-prone areas, even during the height of the monsoon period.
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha realised that the rivers do not have to be barriers to information, they can be communication channels. Shidhulai is working to improve quality of life in flood-prone areas by taking services to the people by boats. They introduced the solar-powered floating schools in Bangladesh to ensure children’s uninterrupted education even during the height of the monsoon in 2002.
“The Northeastern part of Bangladesh is often flooded. I saw my friends and relative denied going to schools due to these floods,” said Riwan, explaining how the schools started to float.
Being an architect, it took four years to build the boats with the support of Global Fund for Children. Almost 70,000 children have benefited since the start of the project in 2002.
“With roads impassable during the monsoon, students cannot go to school. If the children cannot come to the school for lack of transportation, then the school should come to them,” explains Rizwan.
The solar-powered, floating schools ensures year round education to students from flood affected areas in Bangladesh. Boats serve as both classrooms and school buses, taking students to and from school.
Classrooms contain a shared laptop, mobile library, and solar-powered lanterns for night class. The initiative inspired solar water farming practices, stimulating economic growth and children’s nutritional health.