In Bangladesh, a power project helps to build a better school

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Anika, center, with her friends at the new school. Photo: World Bank
Anika, center, with her friends at the new school. Photo: World Bank

Nabila Tasmia Anika is a student in class 6. Her father, who works at a power plant in Siddhirganj, in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh, could only study till class 8.

Anika is well on her way to further her own education. She is excited to attend a new school equipped with modern biology and chemistry labs—and at a safe distance from the power plant. 

When Bangladesh needed to meet its energy demands, the World Bank stepped in with the Siddhirganj Power Project that helped install a gas-fired energy-efficient plant—the technology used yields more energy per unit of gas and thus reduces emissions.

However, an environmental assessment – conducted as part of all World Bank projects – showed the plant’s steam turbine and other planned equipment produced dust, vibrations, emissions, and noise pollution and would adversely affect the health and performance of school children.

What’s more, the school itself lacked many other amenities for a healthy learning environment. Some sections, especially those for the youngest children, were dilapidated; too many children crammed in small rooms.

The bathrooms were dirty, poorly lit, with  missing doors. Girls would go thirsty and skip school during menstruation rather than use the dingy and unsafe facilities.  

Photo: World Bank

 

In this context, building a new school away from the turbine became necessary. The school was built to create a healthy learning environment with modern equipment and resources, including a library, adequate toilets, washing facilities for girls and boys, computer and science labs. 

Partnering with the Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh (EGCB), the location of the new school benefited from the environmental assessment of the surrounding air quality and noise levels.

In 2015, the World Bank repurposed $1.52 million from the project to build a new school at a safe distance from the power plant. Our team consulted various stakeholders in designing the school, and we followed UNICEF guidelines to ensure that the new building could provide an optimal experience for children, especially girls, parents, and teachers.

Earlier this year, the school opened to the children of the Siddhirganj power plant employees and from neighboring communities. The principal and teachers report that they feel more motivated to come to work, and the children are thrilled with the new facilities.

The school boasts open corridors, well-lit and spacious rooms, adequate toilets, common rooms, and safe spaces for girls.  Teachers, many of whom are female, have a dedicated common room and facilities. The school also has a computer lab with 30 computers, a science lab, and a well-stocked library with books and projectors.

“Previously, we didn’t have any understanding of energy or electricity,” says Anika. “We didn’t have access to a lab to learn or understand science. We didn’t have access to computers. Now we do, and we can follow our dreams of becoming scientists generating solutions for the country.”

With power and education, Bangladesh is building a brighter future for its youth. 

Authors

Sabah Moyeen

Senior Social Development Specialist

Iqbal Ahmed

Senior Environmental Specialist

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