On January 28, 2015, “On the Way to School,” a documentary about students fighting for education, was screened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. At the screening, Director Pascal Plisson discussed with the UN staff, journalists, and schoolchildren about the film and how children in third world countries often face dangerous obstacles to simply get to school.
The movie follows a group of children in Kenya, India, Morocco, and Argentina, facing countless difficulties in getting education.
Just getting to school on time itself can be challenging in many parts of the world. In Kenya, Jackson and his sisters cross paths and avoid elephants for more than a fifteen kilometer journey which takes two hours. In India, Samuel is pushed in a wheelchair by his younger brothers for four kilometers taking over an hour. In Morocco, Zahira treks across Atlas Mountain for twenty-two kilometers and four hours. In Argentina, Carlito and his sister ride a horse through patagonia for eighteen kilometers and an hour and an hour and a half.
The documentary shows the determination of these students who overcome their hardships to pursue their goals in education. This has inspired policymakers to press for more measures to build boarding schools, and it has also inspired students as well.
“I think that it is unfair for students [in some continents] to have to fight for education and travel hours to get to school” said Eunice Min, a student majoring in Child Development at California State University in Northridge (CSUN), in an interview with JSR.
Candace Ro, a junior, has established a club at West Ranch High School, “Compassion,” a child sponsorship organization affiliated with Christianity and dedicated to development of children living in poverty around the world. Part of their program consists of prenatal care, health care, infant survival training, and education.
“When I hear about these situations or watch documentaries with similar stories, it reminds me how we take education for granted. And even when we are thankful for education, we will never feel the same daily gratefulness as those children,” said Ro in an interview with JSR.
“These types of situations in which children have to take these journeys are social issues… equal opportunity is highly valued and should be given to everyone,” she added. “The stories [in “On the Way to School”] absolutely motivate me to get involved in order to make sure they get the same privileges regarding education.”
According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to live in freedom and safety and to have education. These basic human rights protect and benefit our everyday lives. However, sometimes we take things for granted. Through the documentary film “On the Way to School”, the director Plisson aims to inspire the nation with stories of these young students with astonishing passion and determination towards education.
The original French version of the film, which was released in 2013 and screened extensively at film festivals last year, is currently available on DVD from Amazon.com. The English version, however, is not yet available.