For children living in poverty in rural communities around the globe, the simple act of getting to school can be a dangerous journey, as Lily Kuo and Roberto A. Ferdman at Quartz explained.
Kuo and Ferdman described how in Indonesia’s Banten province, children "have been commuting to school on narrow bamboo rafts — along a river best known to tourists for its whitewater rapids — because local authorities still haven’t fixed a bridge that collapsed in January in a flood." They also pointed to a Seen in China article that described how some children in the Guangxi province must travel to school on flimsy bamboo rafts because the alternate walking route is longer and even more treacherous.
Fifty-seven million children, or 11 percent of all children primary school age, aren’t going to school, a report from UNESCO found. And the reason is often that the route to school is too long, difficult or dangerous, said Kuo and Ferdman, who included a number of pictures of the formidable paths kids take to get to school around the globe.
The problem is also impacting African children. According to a 2012 report from the Brookings Institute, a policy think tank, "rural areas in Africa are often characterized by poor or nonexistent infrastructure and little or no provisions for other critical social services. This in turn negatively impacts the quality of education for rural-area children since even getting to school is a more difficult challenge and illness of a pupil or a family member may force the pupil to drop out of school entirely."
In addition to natural dangers along their routes, millions of children were unable to go to school this year because of violence and conflict in their countries, according to the United Nations News Centre. In Syria alone, nearly 2 million children dropped out of school since last year because of the conflict that rages there.
"We must strengthen our collective action to respond to the plight of conflict-affected children," said Leila Zerrougui, the special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. "If we fail to protect their rights, their schools and ultimately their future, we call into question our common and longstanding commitment to uphold human rights and international humanitarian law. We must do more to translate these commitments into action and to spare children from the scourge of conflict."