With some U.S. students transitioning from distance learning to in-person school again, here’s a look at some of the great lengths children around the world go to every day to get themselves to the classroom.
Whether it’s walking for miles or bumping along in the back of an overcrowded truck, 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. Colombia: On donkey-back
2. Burkina Faso: Hitching a Ride on a Friend’s Bike
Bicycles are the world’s favorite form of transportation. Hitching a ride on a friend’s bike is always a good option!
3. Bolivia: An Hourlong Hike
4. The Philippines: On a canoe made from a hollowed-out coconut tree
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. Before their local church partnered with us, the community didn’t have a boat. The children had to swim to the other side to get to school.
5. Guatemala: On a Tuk-Tuk
6. Sri Lanka: On the School Boat
7. Brazil: In the school car … as long as it doesn’t get stuck
“On rainy days, the road is filled with mud, sometimes the car gets stuck in the mud. When that happens, we miss the first class at school. This is bad, but there is nothing we can do. It would be worse if we didn’t have any transportation,” says Estefany, a girl in Compassion’s program who lives in a rural area. “I know that studying is what will help me to have a better life. When I grow up I want to be a lawyer and I know I need to study hard to make it happen. I hope all this is possible one day.”
8. Ghana: In a motorcycle truck with lots of friends
9. Indonesia: On the back of a truck
A remote village in 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 5 1/2 miles away. 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!
10. Peru: Up some really steep stairs
11. Bangladesh: On your dad’s rickshaw
12. Brazil: The walking school bus
13. Thailand: Traipsing through the mud
Heavy rains turn the roads to mud in this 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 gumboots and umbrellas, the weather no longer stops them from getting their education!
14. Peru: A 35-minute walk followed by a moto-taxi ride
15. Bangladesh: With your parents on a motorbike
These children’s journeys to school are out of the ordinary not just because of the effort they involve or the transportation. They’re extraordinary because these kids are in school, when 58 million children between the ages of 6 and 11 around the world are not.
Every child should have the right to an education. But poverty can cause children to miss out. Child sponsorship through Compassion helps children receive the support they need to attend school, and eventually live a life free from poverty. Sponsor a child today!
An earlier version of this article was published on July 25, 2017.