This study aimed to understand BRAC Boat School (Shikkhatari) initiative in terms of innovation, quality of education and existing challenges. Whether spatial exclusion can be a basis for educational innovation was also addressed in the study. A mixed method approach was used which included survey, interviews and classroom observations. Fifty randomly selected Shikkhataris and 500 households of the students were surveyed. Programme Organisers and teachers were interviewed in eight schools and approximately 18 hours of observation were done in each.
Findings reveal that proper geographical targeting was done in setting-up the Shikkhataris. These were established nearer to the localities. Parents reported that a vast majority of the students had to cross a waterway to get to school in the monsoon in absence of Shikkhatari. About half of the students got schools in their own hatis. Evidence suggests that over half of the students of Shikkhataris have migrated from government primary schools. Most parents sent students to Shikkhataris for good quality and free education and close proximity of schools from hatis. There were huge operational challenges related to teachers’ recruitment, school supervision and maintenance of desired contact hours. Mechanical problems of boats and extreme weather conditions sometimes delayed students’ pick-up, which shortened classroom contact hours. Additionally, teacher retention was a vital issue. However, these challenges, this initiative has been highly successful in geographical targeting of areas that needed extensive intervention. The intervention was indeed an innovation. Intensive teachers’ training and their retention, infrastructural modifications to facilitate teaching-learning and innovative management system are some of the issues that need to be reconsidered for the sustainability of the initiative.