15 Out-of-the-Ordinary Journeys to School

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

A brother and sister ride on a donkey. The girl is wearing a school uniform and backpack.

2. Burkina Faso: Hitching a Ride on a Friend’s Bike

Two boys ride on a bicycle down a dirt road in Burkina Faso.

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

Students in Bolivia hike on rough terrain on their journey to school. They are on the plains, and mountains are in the distance.

4. The Philippines: On a canoe made from a hollowed-out coconut tree

Children ride on a canoe made from a hollowed-out coconut tree. Some are standing and some are sitting.

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

Three girls, friends, are getting ready to board a yellow tuk-tuk vehicle, which a man is driving.

6. Sri Lanka: On the School Boat

Adults and children ride in a yello boat in Sri Lanka

7. Brazil: In the school car … as long as it doesn’t get stuck

A black and yellow jeep truck vehicle reading "Escolar" is parked on a dirt road. A smiling girl looks out the window.

“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

A group of boys and a man in a white shirt are riding in a blue motorcycle truck. There are buildings in the background.

9. Indonesia: On the back of a truck

Schoolchildren wearing backpacks ride on the back of a truck down a dirt road in a rural area

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

A girl wearing a school uniform and backpack walks up steep stairs. A city is seen in the background and beneath her

11. Bangladesh: On your dad’s rickshaw

A man drives a rickshaw with children riding on it

12. Brazil: The walking school bus

Children line up with their hands on each other's shoulders in single file, following an adult

13. Thailand: Traipsing through the mud

Children holding umbrellas walk through the rain and mud in Thailand

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

A girl wearing a blue shirt and pink backpack jumps across a ditch. There is water running down the ditch.

15. Bangladesh: With your parents on a motorbike

A young girl sits on the front of a motorcycle. Behind her is her father and her mother. They are wearing colorful clothing.

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.

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Angelina Agbedanu July 16, 2021

    God bless you for choosing to help children out of poverty. There are millions of children in Ghana to be precise Greater Accra who really need help i can personally take you to such communities. You can contact me on 0244957012 i really want to be part of you

    1. Christina July 16, 2021

      Hello Angelina! We appreciate your desire to help children in need. Please email us at [email protected] to see if we are able to partner with you. Thank you!

  2. Nadja Vilela Leão February 9, 2021

    Os sacrifícios que elas vivenciam hoje libertará outras gerações amanhã.

  3. Madison February 9, 2021

    This is so humbling and makes me realize how blessed I am; I feel for the children who aren’t able to attend school.

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