At its best, education is inspiring and empowering, providing opportunities that would not normally be attainable or apparent to its recipients. This is why this floating school in Lagos is a laudable wonder.
The Makoko slum is built on the Lagos lagoon with houses hoisted up by the help of stilts. Anyone who has gone to Lagos, Nigeria and traveled on the popular 3rd mainland bridge would no doubt have sighted the slum.
Possessing no roads or infrastructure, the slum was and is home to close to 100,000 people who seem to have grown accustomed to living on the water. The community exists as a fishing and sawing community.
The Lagos government had previously put forward an eviction plan for the Makoko community, a plan which is being reconsidered due to the innovation that came to be known as the floating school.
An architect, Kunle Adeyemi and his team at NLÉ collaborated with the local community to build the floating school. The plan for the community evolved from an initial project to revive the only English-speaking local nursery and primary school in it, which had been affected by instances of flooding, and progressed to the birth to the floating school.
To combat the inciting issue of flooding and several other social and environmental challenges, the structure was planned as a low-cost three-story A-frame, buoyed by 250 plastic barrels, an innovation that made it movable and adaptable to changing tides and water levels.
The school school has rainwater collecting and composting toilets as well as a play area and classrooms. In the end it was constructed with a multi-functional purpose in mind and for this reason can also be used by the residents as a community hub, health clinic and entertainment center.
The school was completed in 2013 and currently educates 100 primary school students from the Makoko community. It was designed to use renewable energy, recycle organic waste and harvest rainwater. 2015 saw the release of funds from the Lagos state government to install solar power and lighting to the waterfront.
The singular fact that the Makoko floating school is providing education to more students is a massive achievement but taking our considerations further to the hope that it provided for the entire community puts it on a higher pedestal. The Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban development have now been motivated to incorporate the Makoko Floating School in a regeneration plan for the entire Makoko Waterfront community.
For this reason we applaud the ingenuity of everyone connected to this landmark move that is rejuvenating and inspiring the not so fortunate in Lagos, Nigeria.