Children Carried in Plastic Bags Across River to Get to School

No doubt, getting to school can be a pain for many parents and kids: the mile-long school drop-off lines, the school buses that come too early or too late, the walks home that mean crossing busy intersections.

After you see the video above, however, you might find yourself deciding that however you and your kids get to school, it’s really not so bad.

It reportedly shows a school teacher carrying students across a river in Vietnam. To keep themselves dry, the students get into giant plastic bags for their short trip through the water. The Mexican news site Aztec Noticias reported, “Even though the way to school may have many obstacles nothing stops these kids from going to school.”

“Some residents raise concern because putting them in bags could cause asphyxiation, however many still admire him because he is risking his life to ensure the kids do not miss a day of school,” the site reported.

The video, in itself, is amazing, but I had to wonder — how often are children and adults taking such extraordinary measures just to get an education?

While she stopped short of saying lots of children ride plastic bags, one expert explained to me that the flooding common during monsoon and typhoon season in Vietnam — as well as in Bangladesh —  does make it difficult for kids to get to school.

“Children must wade through waist-deep water or ride in small, rickety boats to get to school. They often drop their school books in the water,” said Heather Simpson, the senior director of education and child development at the global charity Save the Children, which works with teachers and students on plans to keep kids safe on their way to school.

It’s not just children in Asia who face waterborne risks on their school journeys.

“In areas of Zimbabwe, children must cross crocodile infested waters, and, tragically, some have lost limbs. In mountainous parts of Honduras, creeks can swell to roaring rivers in a flash during the rainy season—sometimes cutting off children’s homes from schools,” Simpson said.

Sadly there are even more tragic reasons kids just can’t attend school, from being unable to afford shoes to not having access to bathrooms. But images from treacherous school commutes may be the hardest to forget, like the ones included in this gallery by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

If you have a grumbling, school commute-hating student in your life, you might want to show them the Vietnam video and the UNESCO pictures. As one teacher I know put it, “And my students say they can’t make it to school on time … imagine if they had to go through what these kids go through.”


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