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On the Way to School

2013 | 77 min | Recommended min. age: 8 y

“We often forget how lucky we are to go to school,” reads an opening title card in French documentarian Pascal Plisson’s “On the Way to School”. The ambitious project follows the incredible lives of four truly heroic children: Zahira (12), from Morocco, Jackson (11) from Kenya, Carlos (11) from Argentina and Samuel (13) from India. Everyday these children endure the grueling and often dangerous journey to get to school.

In order to access education, Jackson walks 15 kilometers through the middle of the African Savanna, navigating around wild animals. Zahira and her friends cross the Morocco’s Atlas mountains on foot. Samuel, who is wheelchair bound, must travel over 4 kilometers of sandy and uneven roads, traverse rivers and palm groves, with the help of his two younger brothers. Carlitos rides for several hours to manage the 18 kilometer trip through the craggy landscape of Patagonia, often accompanied by his younger sister.

Each child undertakes this daily struggle because they know that being educated, learning to read and write, is essential for a better life. For these children, the opportunities that school brings outweigh the challenge of the commute. They understand that only through education will they be able to build a life out of poverty.

The film is not scripted, nor the scenes planned out. The children make their way to school as they do every single day. Each day’s journey is a new adventure, they are courageous and determined to arrive at school, ready to learn and receive knowledge. Encouraged by their families, they brave the arduous journey and move mountains to get to school.

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