Photos: Here's What Elementary School Looks Like Around the World
PHOTO: An ethnic Khmer schoolgirl practices reading at Lac Hoa Primary School, Dai Bai commune.

From Costa Rica to Egypt, kids get up each morning, pack their book bags and head to school.

Some attend classes sporadically in makeshift schools, and are interrupted when civil conflicts or drug wars flare. Others study in brand new classrooms with cutting-edge technology. Some would-be students, particularly girls, are violently prevented from going to school at all.

Here is a snapshot of what elementary schools look like around the world.

It should be noted that, just as in the United States, schools vary significantly within each country and the education a student receives depends heavily on where that student lives and how much his or her family earns.

These are moments in time, glimpses of students pursuing what for many is the ticket to a better life: education.


A young boy leads his classmates in a lesson at a school in Tokyo in 2013.


School children in casual uniforms read books on bean bag chairs in a colorful school in London in 2011.


Students display their work on chalkboards in Gao in 2013. Most of their tables and benches were taken by Islamists after a French bombing of Islamist targets in February. The town was occupied by Islamists for a year, but taken back by Malian and French forces in January 2013.

Costa Rica

Young girls in school uniforms eat a meal that includes rice and beans at a school near Las Crucitas de Cutris in 2010.


Young students recite morning prayers and salute the Egyptian flag during their morning routine in the playground of a private school in Cairo in 2012. The Islamic school has smaller class sizes and a better reputation than most Egyptian public schools.

South Sudan

Students attend a school sponsored by BRAC, a Bangladeshi non-governmental organization aimed at alleviating poverty around the world, in 2008. Many of the children have missed school due to decades of war and insecurity in the region. The students sit on a tarp in the thatched-roof school, while their teacher stands at a chalkboard.


Pupils walk on stilts during a sports lesson at their school in Beijing in 2011. Students in Beijing have been given GPS-equipped mobile phones to combat problems of missing children and campus violence.


Small boys pump water at their primary school in Cambodia in 2010.


A little girl writes "It's the start of the school year" on a classroom chalkboard in Bethune in 2012 at the beginning of the school year.


A young girl practices self-defense with an instructor during a class at her school in Mumbai in 2013. Reports of gang-rape in New Delhi made girls and their parents nervous and schools began offering more self-defense instruction.


Schoolchildren study in an open-air school in Laghman province in 2013. The country's school system has been devastated for the past several decades by the Soviet invasion in the late 1970s, a civil war in the 1990s, and years of Taliban rule. The Taliban has used violent tactics to try to prevent girls and young women from pursuing an education.


Children gather in a bomb shelter at their school in Jerusalem in 2009 after sirens signal a civil defense exercise aimed at preparing the country for air or missile attacks. The training is meant to prepare them for possible rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, and missile attacks from Syria and Iran.


Young boys play in a schoolyard in rural Carchi province near the border with Colombia in 2012. Many Colombian refugee children attend schools in the area. Their families have fled violence along the border in their home country. Some have been assaulted and raped by paramilitary forces attempting to extort money from them. Guerrilla, narco and paramilitary gangs have fought over the state's cocaine trade and children have been caught in the middle.


Young students eat lunch at an elementary school in Rome in 2007. Rome has strict requirements when it comes to what foods are served in cafeterias. Meals have to be healthy and served in eco-friendly containers.


Ashaninka children take a break from studying at their school in a village in Pichari in 2012.

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