Solar-Powered Floating Schools in Flood-Prone Bangladesh: An Inclusive and Sustainable Solution Towards Greater Equality
One fifth of Bangladesh floods annually during the monsoon season, but extreme floods cover up to two thirds. In recent years, the flooding has become more severe. During the monsoon period, thousands of schools are forced to close, and many children miss school days. Due to socio-cultural norms, the majority of rural adolescent girls are faced with the reality of early marriage that restricts their access to schooling. Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha came up with a creative solution to these problems and introduced ‘floating schools’ to the students in 2002. The idea was to ‘combine a school bus with the schoolhouse, and use the local boat to create a floating space’ to ensure access to basic education at doorsteps. The school-boat first serves as a school bus, collecting children from riverside stops; then it docks and class begins. The boat is solar powered, allowing the school to have an internet-linked computer, which makes learning more interactive and easier for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The organization also runs a fleet of boats that serve as libraries and adult education centers, where parents and villagers receive training nutrition, health and hygiene, sustainable farming and adaptation to climate change. The boats use a blended approach of face-to-face and technology integrated learning. To combat discrimination and unequal opportunities for women, boats teach girls on additional skills and their rights to education, choices and opportunities, prevention of child, early and forced marriage. The project encourages parents to send girls to schools, while raising awareness on women’s decision making power and mobility, and increases capabilities of disadvantaged young women for better livelihoods and economic opportunities. This paper is discussing the floating school case study, sharing the origin, concept, achievement, challenges and replications in other flood-prone regions where they are having a transformative impact upon education and communities. // Paper ID 541
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