Monday, November 26, 2012

Solar powered floating schools

A non-profit organisation callled shidhulai swanirvar sangstha, has a goal to provide year-round education to Bangladeshi elementary students living in the areas prone to flooding due to monsoons. During rains,hundreds of schools get shut down to their detriment. Due to the torrential downpours,some parts are flooded for 3-4 months in a year, becoming an obstacle for people to continue their education.

Shidulai swanivar sangstha developed solar- powered floating schools to be used during those periods,which travel right up to the mainland to pick-up students. Around 30 students can be accomodated in each boat-cum-classroom and is equipped with an internet-linked laptop, electronic resources, library, providing basic education up to the grade IV level.
With the help of solar energy via panels installed on their rooftops,the computers and overall electricity of the vessels are powered. The use of this sustainable source offers flexible school schedules. After the day is over, students can take home a recharged-low-cost solar lantern, offering them a light source which would help them to continue their studies, while women on the other hand, may continue to stitch quilts after dusk to generate more income for their family.The solar powered lamps are given to families for free providing their children to go to school regularly, and better off households pay only a small monthly fee to receive one of the devices.
Not only for students,but outside elementary school lessons, the boats also act as venues for conducting training sessions for children's parents on such subjects as agriculture, finance, health, hygiene and nutrition.
70,000 children have benefited from this project which was first started in 2002, and is a 2012 WISE (world innovation summit for education) awards winner. It is funded through various resources which includes crops, fisheries as well as conversion of kerosene lanterns into solar ones.Other than education, the venture has also been advantageous in developing solar water farming to safeguard food supplies,improving the nutritional and health status of children,ensuring a year round income for families in flood prone areas.



(Image source: shidhulai.com)

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