Global NGO honours Brac Boat School

Children coming out of a boat school at a Baniachong haor in Habiganj. Photo: Star

The Brac Boat School project, which helps children in isolated communities gain access to quality education, is named as one of the 100 innovative projects across the world by global education non-profit organisation HundrED.

The Finland-based organisation that aims to share inspiring innovations across the globe to help improve the future of education investigated 700 projects based on their originality, impact and scalability.

The Boat School project was chosen because of its innovative approach to provide primary education to children excluded from traditional schools due to seasonal flooding or other water-based barriers, according to a Brac press release.

“Boat Schools stood out to us as a project that needed to be shared with the world,” said Saku Tuominen, creative director of HundrED.

“Being able to showcase innovations like it marks the beginning of a drive to get all teachers involved in revolutionising education. We will continue to encourage as many schools and organisations as possible to get involved so that we can work towards a positive future.”

BRAC Boat Schools are the product of a simple yet powerful idea: if underserved children living in isolated areas cannot go to school, then the school should go to them, said Profulla Chandra Barman, programme head for Brac Education Programme.

In northeast Bangladesh, monsoon rains regularly flood the region, submerging it for more than half the year. Poor communities and families become isolated, without access to public services including education.

Each Brac Boat School accommodates 30 children and at least half of them are girls. Brac recruits a local female teacher to guide the same cohort of students through the full primary education cycle. All Boat Schools are equipped with toilets, hand-washing facilities and safe drinking water.

The boats also act as school buses so that children can access education year-round. This removes the cost, time and safety barriers faced by poor parents in transporting their children to schools. During dry season, Brac anchors the boat schools at locations that are convenient for all the students.

More than 14,500 students are enrolled in 507 Brac Boat Schools across Bangladesh and the Philippines.

“We're beyond proud and honoured to have been selected as one of HundrED's 100 global innovations,” said Profulla Chandra Barman.

“Boat Schools directly address education equity in Bangladesh and the Philippines, and are a perfect example of innovation, impact and scalability. We're excited to be able to share this project with communities worldwide through the HundrED platform,” he said.

The selected 100 projects cover various fields of education from learning environments and holistic wellbeing to collaborative learning and game-based education.


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