From the Field

Hikes, bikes, and boats: A journey to school

At sunrise, a girl in China hikes a mountain path for two hours to journey to school.

An estimated 21 million elementary school-aged children in Asia and the Pacific don’t attend school, according to UNESCO. Sometimes the main roadblock to education in developing countries isn’t a lack of teachers, books, or classrooms — it’s the trek from home to school. Follow these students on their journeys for education.

India: Desert trek

Sarvan, 10, is in sixth grade. Because there is no road to their village, Sarvan and his friends leave for school at 7 a.m. to beat the heat — the desert sand they walk on can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. They also must cross three barbed-wire fences on their journey. To break up the 90-minute walk home after school, the group usually stops to rest and play games. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Daniel Mung)

Cambodia: Pedal power

Chhav, age 11, lives in a remote Cambodian village. He wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to help his parents and little sisters with household chores and then hops on a bicycle — his youngest sister Sreyvang on the back — and rides 4 kilometers to school. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Soksetha Som)

Vietnam: Fording the stream

Linh and her classmates wade through one of several streams they’ll cross on their way to school. Though their walk is less than 2 miles, during Vietnam’s rainy season, the slopes and swift currents make the journey dangerous. (©2015 World Vision/photo by My Hang Tran)

Solomon Islands: Cruising along

Early in the morning in the Solomon Islands, a father rows his children to school in a wooden canoe then returns home to work on his farm. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Langi Pitia)

Philippines: Going the distance

It takes 8-year-old Jenel two hours of crossing deep streams, walking through sugarcane fields, and hiking up a steep incline to reach his school in Moises Padilla every morning. What keeps him going despite his sometimes-perilous journey? “My father said that going to school will give me a better future,” Jenel says. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Mong Jimenez)

Myanmar: All aboard

Aye Aye (center) and her friends make their way to school on foot, by boat, by truck, or a combination of the three, depending on the season. After a 30-minute walk to the river, they hop aboard a wooden skiff steered by Aye Aye’s father for the hour-long ride to school. After dropping off the young students, he heads to work as a fisherman. “I love riding the boat with my friends,” says Aye Aye. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Khaing Min Htoo)

Indonesia: Saddle up

Atop their horse, brothers Arnolance, 14, and Alvin, 10, navigate two rivers and narrow forest paths without the help of stirrups or a saddle. The horse has made the two-hour round-trip journey to school with Arnolance since the teenager was in third grade. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Rena Tanjung)

Bangladesh: On stilts

The sun sets on another school day, and Opi, 9, is almost home. “I feel afraid when I have to cross this rickety bamboo bridge,” she says. Sometimes an adult will help, but she often walks alone. The mile-long walk to school is a means to an end for Opi. “In the future, I want to be a doctor and start a clinic in our area and serve people,” she says. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Shabir Hussain)

India: Mountain hike

Twelve-year-old Suhani and her friends walk along a narrow path, nestled against a steep mountainside in remote northern India each day on their way to and from school. It takes them 30 minutes each time. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jim Wungramyao Kasom)

Philippines: Catching a ride

Children in Bukidnon catch a ride home from school on a sugarcane truck that saves them from a 3- to 4-kilometer walk under the hot sun. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Crislyn Felisilda)


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