Here’s how US classrooms compare to schools in 30 countries around the world

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The Mashal Model School in the outskirts of Islamabad was founded by Zeba Husain to cater to children of underprivileged families across Pakistan.
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Caren Firouz/Reuters

With the right teacher, any classroom – be it a boat in Brazil or a park in Pakistan – can change a child’s life.

World Teachers’ Day, a UNESCO initiative highlighting the work of educators teaching children amid intimidation and poverty, is coming up on October 5.

Thanks to international efforts, the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015 from 100 million 15 years ago, according to the UN.

Reuters asked photographers to document teachers, their students, and classrooms across the world to celebrate the power of learning. We’ve compiled the best photos here.


Children between six and seven years old pose in their classroom at Gifted Hands Educational Centre in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. In 2003, free education was reintroduced in Kenya — school fees had been the norm since the 1980s.

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Noor Khamis/Reuters

High school students in uniform attend a maritime vocational program at the Artes y Oficios Melchor Lasso de la Vega school in Panama City, Panama.

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Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Reginald Sikhwari poses for a picture with his class of 11th-grade students at Sekano-Ntoane school in Soweto, South Africa. In 1976, students in Soweto took part in a famous uprising against the country’s former apartheid policies.

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Siphiwe Sibiko/Reuters

A 12th-grade class at Khabazela High School relax in their classroom in Embo, west of Durban, South Africa. According to the 2011 census, only 41.7% of the South African population had completed a high school education or higher.

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Rogan Ward/Reuters

Source: Statistics South Africa


Not all students are children. Guillermo Valenzuela teaches primary grade students at a night program for adults called Laura Vicuna School, in a busy neighborhood of Santiago, Chile.

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Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

In New Delhi, India, Archana Shori teaches 7th-grade students inside their classroom at Rukmini Devi Public School.

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Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Art teacher Hanna Snitko poses for a picture with her final year students, aged 16 to 17, at the Ukrainian Humanities Lyceum in their classroom in Kiev, Ukraine.

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Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Ekaterine Tsipuria poses for a picture with year five schoolchildren at a public school in Tbilisi, Georgia. The country was disrupted by the outbreak of war with Russia in 2008, and it has struggled to get back on its feet.

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David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

Kathy Stauch’s 9th-grade French-immersion geography class at Lisgar Collegiate Institute sits ready to learn. Founded in 1843, Lisgar Collegiate is a few blocks from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada.

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Chris Wattie/Reuters

A teacher leads a class session at the École Primaire Ave Marie in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.

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Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

These students attend the Dante Alighieri school in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the country’s largest city.

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Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

Source: Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics


These kids have class on a floating school boat called Municipal School Sao Jose II. It travels along the Amazon River in a rural area of Manaus, Brazil.

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Bruno Kelly/Reuters

Children of the Satere Mawe Indian tribe school pose for a picture in the village of Sahu Ape, located in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The tribe has a population of around 13,000 people whose main economic activity revolves around the cultivation of guaraná, a stimulant plant with twice the concentration of caffeine as coffee beans.

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Bruno Kelly/Reuters

Source: Indigenous People in Brazil


Hanan Anzi poses with Syrian refugee students inside their classroom at one of the UNICEF schools at the Al Zaatari refugee camp. It’s located about eight miles from the Syrian border, in Mafraq, Jordan.

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Muhammad Humed/Reuters

Father Juan Humberto Cruz poses for pictures with 4th-grade students at Semillas de Esperanza school in Soacha, near Bogota, Colombia.

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John Vizcaino/Reuters

A class in the Don Bosco Technical College pose for a picture in Quito, Ecuador. The 2008 Constitution of Ecuador eliminated tuition for public universities; now, admission is based on aptitude tests taken by applicants.

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Guillermo Granha/Reuters

Source: 2008 Constitution of Ecuador


Teacher Manel el Ayachi watches over the class on the first day of a new school year at Linine Street Preparatory School in Tunis, Tunisia.

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Anis Mili/Reuters

In Tunisia, education is a high priority. The country spent over 21% of its government budget on education in 2012. These students at Al Hakim El Kassar Primary School cross their arms to show their teacher they are listening intently.

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Anis Mili/Reuters

Source: World Bank


Students of Moscow’s Gymnasium 1567 pose for a group portrait together with their history teacher, Tamara Eidelman. In 2014, Russia ranked 13th among the world’s top 20 education systems, just one spot above the United States.

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Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Source: BBC


A class from the San Frantzisko public primary school pose for a picture with their teacher, Marisa Solaguren. The school is in the Basque fishing town of Bermeo, on the north Atlantic coast of Spain.

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Vincent West/Reuters

First-grade students and their teacher, Teruko Takakusaki, pose for a photo during their homeroom period at Takinogawa Elementary School in Tokyo, Japan.

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Toru Hanai/Reuters

The Mashal Model School in the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, was founded by Zeba Husain to cater to children of underprivileged families from different parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many students are street vendors, car washers, scavengers, and beggars outside of school.

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Caren Firouz/Reuters

Master Mohammad Ayoub poses with his fifth-grade students at a local park in Islamabad. Ayoub, a Pakistani civil servant, started a program to educate underprivileged children in 1985. He provides the educational supplies from his personal income, and he and his volunteers teach the children English, Urdu and math. Their classroom is a local park during fair weather and a room in the local slum during the rainy season.

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Caren Firouz/Reuters

At the Boston Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts, teacher Elizabeth Moguel stands with her seventh-grade Latin class. Boston Latin School is the first and oldest public school in the US and was founded in 1635.

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Brian Snyder/Reuters

Teachers Carla Smith and Laura Johnson pose for a picture with their third-grade class at Jesse Sherwood Elementary School in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

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Jim Young/Reuters

This first-grade class completes an exercise during an English lesson inside Mohammed Zurob’s classroom at Taha Huseen Elementary School. The school is in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip in the Palestinian Territories.

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Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Students have class in the hallways of Timoteo Paez High School in Manila, Philippines. Their teacher says she is temporarily holding classes in the hallways while waiting for the completion of a new school building.

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Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

Ana Dorrego poses with her students at the rural school Agustin Ferreira, on the outskirts of Minas, Uruguay. The school has 12 students aged four to 11, with only one teacher. Activities include milking cows, planting vegetables, and cooking.

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Andres Stapff/Reuters

Nguyen Thi Phuong teaches a third-grade class in the primary school of Van Chai in the Dong Van district of Vietnam. Phuong teaches the class in the village where she has lived for 23 years without electricity or books.

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Kham/Reuters

Teacher Mahajera Armani and her class of girls pose for a picture at their study open area outside of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Beginning with the Soviet invasion in 1979, the country’s education system has essentially been destroyed in a series of turbulent conflicts.

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Parwiz/Reuters

The Taliban restricted education for girls in Afghanistan during their regime, but since their fall, the percentage of girls enrolled in schools has climbed from practically 0% to 37%.

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Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Source: International Institute for Educational Planning


Students in Dr. Hugh McCormick’s lower sixth politics division sit in their classroom on the last day of term at Harrow School in Middlesex, Britain. Notable Old Harrovians include Winston Churchill, King Hussein of Jordan, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Students in Irena Chmura’s Salusbury World class pose in their classroom in London, Britain. Salusbury World is a charity that supports refugee children and families. Started in 1999, it was the first refugee center to be set up within a primary school.

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Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

These students attend the Madrasah Nurul Iman boarding school outside Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Known as tahfiz or huffaz, they are studying the Quran, the religious text of Islam.

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Olivia Harris/Reuters

Teacher Moulay Ismael Lamrani sits with his class in the Oudaya primary school in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

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Youssef Budlal/Reuters

Students at Glenaan Primary School in the Glens of Antrim are ready to start the day with their teacher and school principal, Mr. Close. As with much of Northern Irish life, schools are still highly segregated by religion, with most schools either Protestant or Catholic. Integration is beginning to spread, however.

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Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Pupils from Mill Strand Integrated Primary School in the Northern Ireland town of Portrush smile for the camera with their teacher, Mrs. Martin.

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Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Here, second-grade Syrian refugee students wait for the start of their lessons at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Primary School in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

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Umit Bektas/Reuters

School teacher Kahon Rochel poses for a picture with students inside their classroom at the the EPV Sinai primary school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The country has a 56.9% literacy rate, but education is quickly becoming a priority.

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Luc Gnago/Reuters

Source: UNICEF