Solar-powered floating schools in northern part of Bangladesh have been recognised among the most innovative education arrangements in the world, according to a CNN report.
During monsoon season in Bangladesh, one-third of the country is flooded, making school attendance next to impossible. This leaves children dropping-out of school and deprived of knowledge.
In order to tackle such discrepancy, non-profit organisation Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, came up with a way to bring education to the children most affected: by creating solar-panelled floating schools. The schools contain a laptop, hundreds of books and electronic resources powered by energy generated from the solar panels.
Each morning, the elementary schools travel to different communities, picking up children along the way. The boats then docks and teach up to 30 children at a time.
The boat schools also train adult villagers on children’s and women’s rights, nutrition, hygiene and other practical issues. Farmers are also trained to adapt to the impact of climate change. Since the boat is solar powered, the floating school continues to operate under solar lamps, even after dark.
Also Read- How one architect transformed education in flood-ravaged Bangladesh
An architect, Mohammed Rezwan founded Shidhulai in 1998, with about $500. In 2003, the NGO received a $50,000 grant from the Global Fund for Children in the United States, and then $100,000 from the Levi’s Foundation, part of the clothing company that has factories in Bangladesh.
Later in 2005, a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allowed Shidhulai to build more boats, buy computers, install solar power and create a central library. In 2014, the organisation won the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), created by the Qatar Foundation, receiving $20,000 prize.
While some first world countries have brought virtual reality into classrooms to study subjects like science, art and history, other schools are taking their classrooms into the forests or other natural settings. Taking up to their challenge, Bangladesh is under the limelight for its sustainable innovation for reinventing education to third world countries.
Since its recognition, Shidhulai’s floating schools model has been replicated in other flood-prone countries, including Nigeria, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and Zambia, therefore, redefining education for all.