Floating School for Haor Children
Sixty underprivileged children of inaccessible haor areas of Bangladesh are now able to receive basic education from the two floating primary schools set up by BRAC.
The colorful floating school in Sunamganj
Mukta Rani Das, 10, an underprivileged girl at Rahamatpur village in Jamalganj upazila of Sunamganj district said, “I never thought of going to school as the closest primary school is two miles away. We need boats to go to the school. When a floating school was launched here recently on board a boat on Rahamatpur Haor (water body), it became easier for me to attend school. Now the boat regularly carries me to and from my home near an isolated island called 'Hati'.”
Rafiqul, a 11-year-old physically challenged boy at Dholerpar village under Bishwamvarpur upazila in the same district, said, "I did not study before as I did not feel good about it. As soon as a floating school was set up on board a boat on Kharocher Haor, I started studying. Earlier, underprivileged boys like me lacked the privilege of education but now it is possible. I am happy because the boat picks me from my home and drops me there again after finishing class".
Like Mukta and Rafiqul, 60 underprivileged children of inaccessible haor areas are now able to receive basic education from the two floating primary schools. BRAC has undertaken the innovative initiative to provide educational facilities to underprivileged children of remote haor areas of Rahamatpur, 35 kilometre west of Sunamganj and Dholerpar, 25 kilometre west of Sunamganj. A haor (wetland) has soil which saturated with moisture either permanently or seasonally and may also be covered partially or completely by shallow pools of water. This means that people whose lives are dependent on the haor find transportation very difficult. The only major source of income in haors is fishing.
Each boat is 42 feet in length, 11 feet in width and six feet in height. It costs almost Tk 4 lakh to build each boat, which is expected to be operated for more than 10 years. Tapoti Sharma, a teacher at Dholerpar BRAC Primary School said that she has 30 students in her class and among them, 20 are girls and 10 boys. "I teach them Arithmetic, Bangla, English and Social Studies," said she. “My students receive books and educational materials free of charge.”
The schools are being called “Shikkha Tori” (Education Vessel). Students of classes I, II and III follow BRAC's own curriculum. Later, these students will follow the curriculum of education board for two years during study in class IV and V. On completion of grade V, they will be able to sit for primary terminal examinations, Tapoti further said. "In haor areas of Sunamganj, there are hundreds of children who are uneducated. Local people solely depend on the haor for their livelihood. And especially the children of fishermen do not go to school, as there are no educational facilities for them nearby. These children are also reluctant in leaving their environment. This is why, BRAC started these floating schools," commented BRAC Executive Director Dr. Mahbub Hossain. Ultimately, 100 boat schools will be launched in haor areas.