Back to school: A photo essay ode to schools around the world

Today is the first day of school for my children. My daughter waltzed out the door at 7 a.m. this morning after showing me the piece of cheese she was eating–(she plays soccer and I’m adamant that she eat some sort of protein), to catch her ride. She’s a 10th grader.

For my son, who is now a first grader, the anticipation build-up of last year is much less. We know our routine. Kindergarten left a lump in my throat. First grade is old hat, but he still wants me to drive him and walk him in for the first day. After today, he heads out on the bus.

This first day of school got me thinking about schools around the world and what a gift having a school to go to is. When I was in the Peace Corps, I worked with my village primary school on certain days to do health education. In The Gambia, at the time, most kids did not go to school. The primary school in my village was the only one for miles around.

Amazingly, this shot by tigz pix was taken in N’Jowara where I served. This is inside one of the three classroom buildings. I’m not sure where my pictures are, so I’m happy to use this one. It looks exactly the same.

On this first day of school, here’s an ode to all those parents, grandparents or other caregivers, who make sure their children head to a classroom if they can find one and they have the means, and all those people who have chosen to teach, and all those children who sit in rows or gather in groups, day after day, working to learn–and if not working to learn, have a kernal of hope that life will turn out well once the last bell rings on their last day of school ever–when they head out into the world to see what happens next.

Click on the photographer’s name to go to the Flickr page. I picked these because these are the photos I found with Creative Commons use.

Mexican 2000, who snapped this shot, points out that school kids in Japan were different colored hats in order to show which class they belong to. These little guys are on a field trip to Himeji Castle.

On September 11, 2007, was Read with a Hero Day. Stories of heroism, tolerance and justice were read, according to the photo’s description. This shot by Staff Sgt. Russell Kilkar was taken at East Side Elementary School in Edinburgh, Indiana.

Head to a rural village and pull out a camera to take pictures of children and see how many show up. This photo by OpenDemocracy reminds me of my own experiences. It’s a swarm. For an excellent film that shows what a rural school is like in China, check out Not One Less. It’s about a 13-year-old girl who reluctantly becomes the teacher of a one-room school when the teacher has to leave for some reason.

School girls, in what I assume is Chile. Photographer Angela7dreams didn’t label the specific country in South America where this was taken, but this one is in a group of other shots of Chile.

School kids either heading to school or home in Taxco, Mexico. The shot is by michale.

School girls with their book bags in Bandung, Indonesia. Wouldn’t it be great if all school kids looked as happy as sektordua found these three?

This photo taken at the Khmer Literacy School in Cambodia, and posted by, shows the efforts of a farm project to encourage farmers to send their children to school. You can read about the project, by clicking on the link.

These school kids in France are on a field trip that I would love. This was taken by ConspiracyofHappiness at the Musee Rodin.

A group of school kids in India taken by Tom Maisey.

Man and his son at the opening of Salah Hadi Obid Elementary School in Afak Village, Iraq. Photo by James Gordon, Flickr.

* The first photo is of my son walking into school this morning. He is in good hands.