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A Floating Future
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A Floating Future
In Bangladesh, a visionary architect is using solar-powered floating schools to transform the front lines of climate change into a community of learning.
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Produced for Foreign Exchange.

Learn more about the Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha organization's efforts to bring education to children in Bangladesh.

Find out about the full-length feature documentary Easy Like Water.

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Segment 1

MOHAMMED REZWAN [Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha (Self-Reliance)]
In Bangladesh scientists say that, within the next 10 to 20 years, 20 percent of the land will go under seawater. It already started happening in the south. Island are getting smaller and in the north the rivers are getting bigger. We are getting more erosion and more floods. That's why ... you can say it is ground zero for the climate change.
MOHAMMED REZWAN
Every year, schools are flooded for three to four months, it happens during the monsoon season. We are now in northwest Bangladesh and the school that you can see over there, it is now under the flood water. If the water level increases over the next few days, the students who are still in this class, they will not be able to come to the school. How long was the school flooded last year?
BOY
Three months
MOHAMMED REZWAN
What did you do for three months?
BOY
I was playing.
MOHAMMED REZWAN
There are many school dropouts in Bangladesh and it is because of regular flooding. During the flood last year, 330 schools were completely destroyed and more than 4,000 schools were damaged. This is the reason I decided, why don't we bring the school to the student? In the northwest Bangladesh there is not enough paved roads to serve these communities. So people have to depend on rivers and boats. Our school boat school is a combination of a school bus and school house at the same time, because it collects students from different riverside areas. Finally docking at a destination, it arranges onboard classes. This is our grade one school boat school, and they are reading off a book on biodiversity. This is one of the books being debuted by our organization. This is completely focused on the river and riverside pollution, biodiversity, conservation -- so what we can do actually to control the pollution, like keeping the latrines away from the water source, use of river water for irrigation, identifying beneficial insects. We have right now 42 boats in operation, the 46th is under ... they are designing it. But within this year we will have around 100 boats in operation. We placed the solar panel on the top and we have a structure to hold the panels. And from the panels it comes to ... here we have all the equipment in this box, the battery chargers, the charge controller, and inverters. And this is the batteries that store the solar energy. In the boat school we have a computer or laptop and hundreds of books. The computers they are getting, every day, information, they are getting access to Internet and they are getting newspapers off the Internet. So they are keeping up-to-date with what is happening in the country and also outside of the country.
GIRL
Before the boat school we had nowhere to study.
MOHAMMED REZWAN
What do you hope to be when you grow up?
GIRL
I want to be be a teacher.
MOHAMMED REZWAN
In Bangladesh the pressure on the land is always high. At this moment we have 1,209 people per square kilometer. And if the country, 20 percent of the country goes under water, which may happen in the next 10 to 20 years, where will these people go? Because we do not have enough space, enough land. So people will have to live on water in some way. Climate change is a global problem. Not only Bangladesh: the other countries should work together to address the climate change. We have to find solutions. For example our solution to address the climate change, the boat, floating education system, floating housing project which can be adapted in other settings, which can be done on a big scale [so] that many communities around the world can be benefited.