On The Way To School

On the Way to School


Shannon Sutherland
Editor-in-Chief, African Kitchen Table


The fact of the matter is: education is utterly and desperately necessary.

That much is a ubiquitous and unquestionable fact taught to us from the earliest age, and is reenforced time again throughout our childhood, adolescence, and indeed our entire lives.

Whether you want to be a baker, a banker, or a bartender, we as a society rely on knowledge to function efficiently and effectively. People in all the world’s governments must be educated and well-rounded, as must be the educators, lawyers, officers and the brokers, just as much as the store keepers and house maids. As someone who has spent her life growing up in a wealthy and empowering household, I have always had the privilege of a thorough, high-quality education at little expense to my being.


My father and mother have always stressed the importance of knowledge to me and my younger brother for as long as I can remember. They always say to me that a good education can take me to the farthest ends of the earth and all the vast expanses of life.

The film I watched this past week, On the Way to School, embodied the importance of working hard to gain knowledge beautifully. The duration of the film was spent going back and forth between four groups of students from different parts of rural life, and the everyday aspects of their trips to school.


It began with a eleven year old boy and his younger sister, traveling 2 hours every morning to their school in Kenya across a wide area of savannah.

Next, it switched to a 13 year girl living in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains, traveling 4 hours every Monday with two of her classmates on steep slopes and rocky paths to get to their boarding school.

Then, the film showed a young boy in Patagonia, Argentina, travelling an hour and a half every day across desolate planes with his little sister, on a horse. Lastly, it showed a disabled boy living on the Bay of Bengal, India, who had to be pushed by his two brothers for over an hour in a makeshift wheelchair all the way across rivers and slippery dirt roads to school everyday.


I was shocked and in great admiration of these students and their determination to go through such trouble and danger to go to school and get an education day after day, in such rough circumstances.

One major difference that stuck out to me between the students in the film and my observations of my classmates here in Marin County, California was attitude.

In schools I have attended, there has too often been an attitude of ungratefulness and entitlement towards good schools, educators, and education.


Too often, our wonderful opportunities and important education have been taken for granted by those of us receiving it. The children in the film were eternally grateful and motivated to do well, as were the families, because they understood their education’s extreme value and, in such areas of the world, rarity.

Many in my position drive to school, or take a bus, ride a bicycle, or even walk, in peace, safety, and without any fear or even enthusiasm. Meanwhile, children all over the world, bless them, walk hours and hours, kilometer after perilous kilo-meter, to reach their schools. They learn with zeal and have a thirst for gaining knowledge and wisdom.


On the Way to School is a stellar film.

I enjoyed that there was absolutely no narration; just the screen and the viewer to make what they will of the projections. I also enjoyed the inclusiveness of female and disabled students in the film.

It really did reach in deep into the different types of students and the difficulty each faced individually, as well as a collectively.

I invite you all to contribute your own thoughts on the topic and/or the film.

It is very important for us to open a discussion on such an important subject as education, specifically the issue of lack of education in rural parts of the world, and the greatness of these motivated children.





African Kitchen Table