By: Krystle Crossman
When school is cancelled due to weather in the U.S. it is most often because of a snow storm, hurricane, or tornado. In Bangladesh they have to deal with the monsoon season. During this season the rains are unending. The roads become impossible to pass because of all of the water. This forces almost 4,000 schools in the county to close for days, weeks, or even months at a time. Children miss quite a bit of schooling because of the rains. The nonprofit company Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha has taken a look at this issue and came up with a solution that would help the children get the education they deserve through natural disasters.
The idea was first put into use in 1998 when Mohammed Rezwan took $500 of his own money and built a boat that would end up being used as a floating school. The government did not want to get involved with this venture because they felt that the areas where the schools were flooding were the most impoverished anyway. Rezwan’s project was a hit and he soon found funding in the Global Fund for Children and the Bill and Melinda Gates Fund. He has done excellent work and now operates 54 different floating schools, libraries, and health clinics.
Each of the boats have a unique design and have a lot of technology on board. Solar panels line the outside of the boat so that there is electricity for lights and computers. All of these boats now help over 97,000 people. There are 300 volunteers, 48 boat drivers, and 61 teachers who currently staff the boats. Rezwan plans on building 100 more over the course of the next five years. He estimates that this will help at least another 100,000 people.
UNICEF spoke about this initiative and felt that it was absolutely necessary in countries like this. A spokesperson for UNICEF said that ideas like this come from our youth and from very creative thinkers. He said that through determination and creativity more initiatives like this one can be implemented in countries all over the world that suffer from natural disasters.