How did you get to school as a child? Here’s a look at some of the great lengths children around the world, are going to everyday to get themselves to the classroom.

Whether it’s walking for kilometres or bumping along in the back of an overcrowded truck, these 17 photos highlight the challenges some children face in accessing education, and celebrates the fact that despite the odds, they’ve made it to school.

1. Cruising down the river, Ecuador

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

2. On the back of mum’s motorbike, Guatemala

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

3. Public transport, Brazil

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

"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.

4. An hour long hike, Bolivia

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

5. Riding on a donkey, Colombia

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

“My family lives in a rural area of Varsovia village. At 6 o clock in the morning my brother Dilan, one of my parents and I leave home. My parents care about our well-being and one of them always accompanies us to school to make sure we get there safely. Our donkey is called “Mocho" because he lost half of an ear several years ago. At 25 years old, our donkey is very old, but he is still strong and takes us to school,” says Dianis.

“The path to school is very nice. Trees surround it, birds can be heard singing and we pass by several farms where there are cows and other animals. The weather in our village is warm, however sometimes it rains heavily and makes the path muddy and the trip to school becomes difficult. During rainy days, we arrive to school wet and muddy but we know that what matters is to get there. Mocho waits outside the school until noon, when the school day ends, to take us back home. At that time, the sun feels more intense and we are tired after school. Nevertheless, our parents have taught us that by studying we are going to have a better future and that makes our journey to school worthwhile.”

6. 40 minutes to the nearest motostop, Peru

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

7. Hitching a ride on a friend’s bike, Indonesia

CC-PE065600128-JourneyToSchool-05-1905 (1)

Bicycles are popular modes of transport around the world. Hitching a ride on a friend’s bike is always a good option!

8. The walking school bus, Brazil

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

9. Traipsing through the mud, Thailand

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

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 gumboots and umbrellas, the weather no longer stops them from getting their education!

10. A fun school bus ride with classmates, Kenya

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

11. A leisurely ride on the local fishing boat, Philippines

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

12. On the back of a truck, Indonesia

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

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 kilometre 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. Walking seven kilometres each way, Indonesia

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

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.

14. On a canoe made from a hollowed-out coconut tree, the Philippines

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

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 Compassion, the community didn’t have a boat—the children had to swim to the other side to get to school.

15. When the school bus is a boat, Sri Lanka

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

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.

16. Tramping through fields, Philippines

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

17. Cruising in style, Ghana

17 Astonishing Journeys to School by Children in Poverty

Ten-year-old Jerry in Ghana used to walk the long distance to school each day, arriving tired and often late. His sponsor gifted him a bike—now he’s early to school!


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 aged between 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.

SOURCE: UNESCO, Reaching Out of School Children

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