Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 13:23 UK
Hungry to learn across the world


Jordan describes his island-hopping journey to get to school

Around the world millions of children have to go to great lengths to get a proper education. In the fourth report in the BBC's Hunger to Learn series, Lorna Gordon talks to 11-year-old Jordan, whose long journey to school every morning involves a bike ride, a ferry, and a bus.

The remote Orkney island of Egilsay is a small slither of land. Even at its widest point it is just a few kilometres across.

It has only a couple of dozen inhabitants. It is very quiet, and for 11-year-old Jordan it is home.

Jordan can see his school from his garden. It is just a few kilometres away and visible on the horizon. But the journey to get there is far from simple. That's because his school is on an entirely different island, and getting there involves travelling by bike, bus and ferry.

Hunger to Learn looks at the lengths children go to get an education.
On Thursday we report from Pakistan's Swat valley, where girls schools have been closed down and pupils threatened
On Friday, we hear from pupils in L'Aquila, Italy, who are attending schools that have been rebuilt or repaired after the massive earthquake.

The boat that takes him to the neighbouring island of Rousay is small. It has space for just a few passengers and cars. The crew are very friendly and are always looking out for their little passenger. He has, after all, been doing this journey for years and they know him well.

Jordan loves his twice-daily commute across the water, especially in winter when the weather is bad and the waves come crashing down over the bow.

On rare occasions, the conditions are so bad that his day at school is curtailed and he has to leave class early, or he gets stranded overnight and has a sleepover with one of his friends.

Sometimes he is the only passenger on the boat, but this is a scheduled service, so the ferry times are fixed. That means his day is always different from the other children in his class. As he says, he "gets to school later and leaves later", and his friends have already completed their first lesson of the day by the time he arrives.

Importance of friends

A lot of work goes into making sure Jordan's education doesn't suffer. Specialist classes like PE and music are never scheduled for first thing in the morning, to ensure Jordan can take part. But, when the bell goes and all his friends leave for the day, he still has one final additional class to go.

"I find it a bit annoying because I have to spend time after school working on my own," he says.

But his head teacher, Alison Mainland, points out this is the best way for him to catch up on everything that he has missed.

During break time as he and his friends run around the playground, one of the positive benefits that come from his island-hopping journey to school becomes clear. It is a chance for the youngster to interact with other people his age, and he makes the most of it.

"Coming to Rousay is a lot more fun because there are all my friends to play with," he says.

That's not to say there isn't plenty for Jordan to do when he's at home, but because his friends are all on different islands, for the most part he has to amuse himself. Fishing, creeling and gardening are just a few of the things that help him pass the time.

Next year Jordan's journey to school will change once again. His secondary school is on a much bigger and even more distant island. It will be too far away to travel there daily and he will instead become a boarder. But for now and for the rest of the academic year Jordan will continue with his daily ferry journey to his primary school on Rousay.

To people living in towns or cities Jordan's journey to go to school does sound unusual. It is certainly different from that undertaken by many other British children of his age.

But the ferry journey, time-shifted day, missed classes and additional lessons - the extra distance he has to go to learn - are for him entirely normal. That's because he has never known anything else. And he doesn't mind, because as he says if he didn't make this complicated journey to school he wouldn't see his friends.

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