Meet the Students

September 9, 2016

In the Time for School Series, we followed seven kids from seven countries on a twelve year journey as they struggle to get a basic education. Meet Joab from Kenya, Shugufa from Afghanistan, Raluca from Romania, Jefferson from Brazil, Neeraj from India, Ken from Japan, and Nanavi from Benin.

Jefferson Narciso


Jefferson Narciso, a shy 5-year-old enjoys flying kites from the roof of his home in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro’s biggest favela. He and his siblings are able to attend school, in part because of the small monthly government stipend his mother receives through the Bolsa Familia program. View Slideshow…



In 2003, Kenya’s newly elected government abolished primary school fees, offering children like 10-year-old Joab Onyando the opportunity to go to school. On his first day, Joab and his younger brother crowd into a classroom with 70 other students and just one teacher, eager to learn. View Slideshow…



In the tiny village of Koutagba in Benin, West Africa, 9-year-old Nanavi Todénou is the first girl from her family to enroll in school thanks to a countrywide initiative aimed at ending the gender gap in school enrollment. The usual path for girls her age in her village was to be initiated into the traditional voodoo convent and readied for marriage. But the voodoo priest has given his permission for Nanavi to attend school. View Slideshow…



In 2003, Neeraj Gujar, who lives in a tiny dessert village in Rajasthan, India was determined to attend school. Extensive daytime chores in the house and on her family’s farm meant that she couldn’t attend the normal day school like her brothers. At the age of 9, Neeraj has finally convinced her parents, who don’t see the value of educating a girl, to let her attend a special night school created to help children like her who must work during the day. View Slideshow…



Before the fall of the Taliban in 2001, there were virtually no girls in school in Afghanistan. By 2004, one million girls have entered, including Shugufa Sohrabi, age 11, whose family has recently returned from a refugee camp in Pakistan. View Slideshow…

Ken Higashiguchi from Japan


On his first day of school, Ken Higashiguchi could already read and write because he attended a pre-K in one of the world’s finest educational systems. Ken’s parents aren’t wealthy, but in Japan, the cost of private day care programs is affordable to virtually everyone. Ken is an eager student and, as an only child, he has been showered with after-school programs, including English lessons, swimming, tennis, baseball and soccer. Read More…



In post-Communist Romania, seven-year-old Raluca Ifrimescu handled a 45-minute subway commute, by herself, to attend one of Bucharest’s finest public schools. As the country transitioned to capitalism, its schools moved from a curriculum based on rote memorization to one that encourages critical thinking. Raluca’s hard-working parents always supported her dreams and with their support, she was able to attend one of the elite public high schools in Bucharest. Read More…