15 Extraordinary Journeys to School

Growing up, do you remember hearing your great grandpa say, “When I was a kid, I had to walk to school barefoot in the snow and uphill both ways!”

Around the world, children today still face great obstacles to get to school. As children in Canada are getting ready for another school year, here’s a look at some of the great lengths children go to every day to get themselves to the classroom.

These 15 photos highlight the challenges some children face in accessing education. They celebrate the fact that despite the odds, they’ve made it to school!

1. In a canoe made from a hollowed-out coconut tree in the Philippines

For these children, getting to school means taking a ride in a canoe made from the trunk of a huge coconut tree. In their remote community, the journey involves a 45-minute hike across several rice fields and the precarious canoe ride across the Wawa River. But before their local church partnered with Compassion, the community didn’t have a boat—the children had to swim to the other side to get to school!

2. An hour-long hike at 3,700 metres in Bolivia

Some isolated towns on the Andean Plateau of Bolivia have little access to secondary schools. Youth will hike for an hour at elevations more than 3,700 metres to get an education.

3. The most blinged-out bus on the block, in the Philippines

Some young people in the Philippines take jeepneys to get to school. These bright modes of public transportation have a lot of swagger!

4. A seven-kilometre trek each way in Indonesia

In this community, the closest school is seven kilometres away. But when you’re telling jokes with your friends, the hot, dusty journey doesn’t feel quite as long.

5. A precarious balancing act in Colombia

In this neighbourhood in the Andean region of Colombia, kids have a tightrope walk over wooden planks that are perched over contaminated water to get to school.

6. A snug ride on a motorcycle, in the Philippines

There’s always room for one more!

7. The old-fashioned way, in Brazil

Horses are still commonly used for transportation in many areas of Latin America.

8. A careful walk around the garbage, in the Philippines

Often, Compassion-assisted children live in communities where there aren’t basic services, such as garbage collection.

9. On a bicycle with a buddy, in Indonesia

Bicycles are the world’s favourite form of transportation—and a great way to speed up a long journey!

10. Under the canopy of a rickshaw, in Bangladesh

Some children in Bangladesh will take 30-minute rickshaw rides to get to school each morning.

11. When the school bus is a boat, in Sri Lanka

Most mornings you’ll see a group of schoolchildren waiting by the side of the river for their ride to school—a canoe. In this community in Sri Lanka, a boat is the only way to get to school. During the monsoon season when it often floods, the children are cut off from their school and instead try to learn at home.

12. In the back of a truck, in Indonesia

The remote village of Ngandong in Central Java, Indonesia, was isolated from the outside world for one simple reason: the gaping holes in the village’s only access road. The closest public school is nine kilometres away, and walking the narrow path through the forest to get there took students two hours. The villagers tried to repair the road, but monsoon rains quickly undid their hard work. Seeing how the road condition was preventing children from continuing their education, Compassion staff hired a truck to take students to and from school—a life changing initiative!

13. A peaceful countryside walk in the Philippines

14. Across a bamboo bridge, in Indonesia

Many children around the world cross rickety bridges without handrails to get to school each day.

15. Traipsing through the mud in Thailand

Heavy rains turn the roads to mud in Supakan’s village, making them impassable except on foot (and by elephant). More than an inconvenience, it also prevented the government-funded teacher from making the journey to the village. Compassion provides a substitute teacher when the children’s regular teacher can’t attend. As long as the children have their rain boots and umbrellas, the weather no longer stops them from getting their education!

These children’s journeys to school are extraordinary, not just because of the effort they involve or the unusual transport method. They’re extraordinary because these children are in school, when 58 million children between the ages of six and 11 around the world are not*.

Every child should have the right to an education. But poverty can cause children to miss out. Compassion child sponsorship helps children receive the support they need to attend school, and eventually, live a life free from poverty. Sponsor a child today.

By Zoe Noakes and Amber Van Schooneveld; a version of this article was originally published by Compassion Australia.

SOURCE: UNESCO, Reaching Out of School Children