Boat schools bring classroom to Bangladesh's flood-hit children

Mon Mar 9, 2015 6:20am EDT
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By Syful Islam

DHAKA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Anna Akter, a nine-year-old student at a floating school in Bangladesh's remote Natore district, says she might have missed out on her education during annual monsoon floods without her boat-based classroom.

The same goes for Khushi Khatun, who also studies at the boat school where she gets free tuition and materials.

“Had there been no such school, she would have had to walk two kilometers along a muddy path or take a boat journey during monsoon which may have discouraged her to study,” said her father Nazir Uddin, a farmer in Pangasia village.

Hundreds of students in the northern Bangladesh district are taught in floating schools, an initiative to make education available to children whose lives are complicated by regular flooding.

“Instead of the students going to school, the school reaches them,” said Mohammed Rezwan, founder of Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, the non-profit organization that introduced the country’s first floating school system.

It also trains farmers to grow vegetables in floating gardens and raise ducks and fish, as well as offering free farm inputs.

The boat schools are the kind of measure that can help education in developing nations like Bangladesh become more resilient to extreme weather and worsening climate impacts.

Governments meeting in Japan from March 14-18 to adopt a new action plan to reduce the risk of disasters are expected to call for better ways to protect education before, during and after crises.   Continued...