A community-driven and low-cost school system for children in rural areas
- VARANDA School
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“CRCD/VARANDA is bringing inclusive education to all children through the harvest of seeds from parents.” Farida Yesmin, Founder & Executive Director, DRRA
In 2012, DRRA, a large Bangladeshi NGO, launched VARANDA School to provide early intervention, early childhood education, and play-based preschool education for children with and without disabilities. The VARANDA School operates in a space provided by the community, with young people working as volunteers and parents in charge of teaching. Starting with 15 students in the Satkhira district in 2012, by 2023 the school was providing education to 1,030 students across eleven districts of Bangladesh.
In rural Bangladesh young children with disabilities need individual assistance to enrol in and have access to education.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The Disabled Rehabilitation and Research Association (DRRA) is a leading disability service provider in Bangladesh. The association’s Community-Based Resource Centre for Development (CRCD) is a cost-effective and community-based solution to activate inclusive education. The VARANDA School, as the CRCD is known, cares for children with disabilities as they to continue twelve years of education. It provides a tailor-made curriculum focusing on the children’s needs as well as on existing governmental pedagogy. The programme also incorporates therapeutic interventions and life-long learning. Each VARANDA School is run by the local community and managed by the mothers of children with disabilities. Young people work as volunteers, who also serve as mentors, with one volunteer responsible for one child. Parents act as trained teachers and have access to online services and resources, which allows for a more personalized learning experience. Moreover, DRRA has developed specifically appropriate teaching and learning materials. In 2022 the programme operated in eleven rural districts and had a positive impact on children’s academic careers, health, and retention rates. Initially starting with 15 students, CRCD educated more than 1,000 students in 2023. Under an inclusive pre-primary education programme, DRRA conducts the same course with government primary schools.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The project receives funding from the Niketan (Netherland), the Liliane Fonds Foundation (Netherlands), and DRRA´s own budget. By 2023 the CRCD/VARANDA school had already been successfully replicated by 15 local partner organizations and has influenced government policy on education. In the next three to five years, DRRA intends to work with the government and with local DPOs to further expand the initiative to 30 regions, which is almost half of the country’s 64 regions. (Awardee 2024)