To celebrate the golden jubilee of BRAC – one of the world’s largest non-governmental organisations, BRAC today on Saturday, 17 September launched an exciting initiative in Sunamganj district to bring play-based and experiential learning for children through floating boats. The ceremony took place at the Upazila Parishad Auditorium in Bishwambharpur Upazila with great festivities and celebrations.
The event was attended by, among others MD Jahangir Alam, District Education Officer, Sunamganj; Mahamudul Hasan, Assistant Upazila Education Officer, Bishwambharpur; Badal Chandra Barman, District Children Affairs Officer, Sunamganj; MD. Safar Uddin, Upazila Chairman, Bishwambharpur. Safi Rahman Khan, Director, Education, Skills Development, and Migration; and Profulla Chandra Barman, Programme Head, Education Programme; were present from BRAC.
Thematically designed around mathematics, science, and values – the three boats will travel a long water route stretching from Sunamganj in the northeast to Bhola Island in the south bordering the Bay of Bengal. They will make stopovers en route where a wide range of children, students, teachers and people from the community can visit and experience the travelling exhibits along with activities. The duration of stopovers will be for 7-10 days from 10am-4pm. The boats will draw volunteer teachers from the local communities to guide visitors. Special ramps have been designed for children with disabilities.
Md Safar Uddin, Upazila Chairman of Bishwambharpur said, “BRAC boat school initiative of 2011 gave access to education to the deprived children of the haor areas. Education should be brought to the doorsteps of children and hence BRAC should reintroduce more boat schools to provide education to the disadvantaged children of haor areas.”
Safi Rahman Khan, Director, Education, Skills Development, and Migration said, “The inherent beauty and magic of math can at times be hard to see, and even harder to explain to students. Through experiential learning, play based and hands-on activities, children will hopefully enjoy and not fear math.”
The educational activities and materials have been particularly designed for primary school children, although older students and visitors will also be able to experience the joy of learning. The visitors will be offered activities and contents on values, while subjects on maths and science are designed with puzzles, hands-on experiments, problem solving with fun activities and games, and photographic introduction to great scientists and mathematicians.
The Values Boat was inspired by the philosophy of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, who ensured that along with regular academic subjects, value education and performing fine arts are incorporated in BRAC schools.
All the boats will be covered under CCTV surveillance and will strictly follow BRAC’s safeguarding policies along with the health, safety and security guidelines.
BRAC had introduced the boat schools in the wetlands (haor regions) of north-eastern Bangladesh in 2011. The idea was to bring the classroom to the children who were deprived from accessing education living in the haors. The Boat School project was selected as “100 Global Inspiring Innovations of 2017” list by HundrED, a Finnish global education non-profit organisation.
As the largest development collaborator of the government, BRAC has been undertaking and scaling up innovative learning initiatives for this along with other difficult-to-access regions.