Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World
Owlkids Books, 2011.
The United Nations claims education to be a basic human right, but, according to UNICEF, more than 100 million children continue to be denied the opportunity of going to school. Whether the barrier to education be environmental, political or economic, this book examines the way that incredible individuals have found ways around these barriers, by creating schools that give kids a chance to learn by meeting the very conditions where the children live.
The first chapter is dedicated to environmental barriers to school: climate change, storms, natural disasters, and shortages of resources. Creative solutions such as the use of boats in Bangladesh that pick up children (especially girls, who would be discouraged from traveling to school) at their doorstep, schools built in remote villages in the Brazilian rainforest that run on solar light panels, and the rebuilding of schools in New Orleans and Haiti are portrayed.
The next section of the book deals with creating schools for children on the margins of society - minorities, refugees, homeless, and those living in poverty. The schools created for these children again reach out to the children where they are - schools built near slums in Cambodia, remote mountainous villages in Nepal and even in a village inside a cave in China!
The last part of the book deals with non-traditional ways of schooling, for children for whom attending school five days a week all year long is simply not an option. These schools come to the children; to the railway platforms in India where the children come every day to earn their living, and to the transient work sites of children of migrant workers in Thailand.
The entire book is full of captioned photographs of the diverse and unusual schools and the kids who attend them. Small maps on each page show the location in the world of each school. The text of each page is organized under headings, subheadings, and fact boxes, There is an extensive resource page at the end of the book listing organizations and schools that could provide more information on how to help more kids go off to class.
Schools; Students; Inequality
Vol. 17, number 2
E - Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!
G - Good, even great at times, generally useful!
A - Average, all right, has its applications.
P - Problematic, puzzling, poorly presented.