WORLDPOST
11/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

WATCH: Classrooms In 7 Countries Struggle To Provide Kids With A Basic Education

WIDE ANGLE's unprecedented, award-winning 12-year documentary project, Time for School, returns in 2009 with visits to seven classrooms in seven countries to offer a glimpse into the lives of seven extraordinary children who are struggling to get what nearly all American kids take for granted: a basic education. We started filming in 2002, watching as kids first entered school in Afghanistan, Benin, Brazil, India, Japan, Kenya and Romania, many despite great odds. Several years later, in 2006, we returned to film an update -- and now, three years later, we travel to check in on our young teenagers who are making the precarious transition to middle school. Among the highlights: in Afghanistan we reunite with 16-year-old Shugufa, who resolutely remains in school despite the Taliban's recent acid attacks on young women her age. "If they continue attacking schools, our country won't progress. Without an education you can't get anywhere," says Shufuga, whose own education was delayed when her family lived in a refugee camp in Pakistan during years when the Taliban ruled her country. We also visit the biggest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, where 15-year-old Joab's mother has died and his father has abandoned the family. We watch as, incredibly, Joab manages to stay at the top of his class while also raising and feeding his two younger siblings. And in the blazing desert of Rajasthan, India, we encounter Neeraj, 15, only to learn that she has been unable to realize her dream of making it to 10th grade: since our last visit her night school has closed, and she now helps support her family by grazing the livestock full-time while her brothers continue their education.

These children's stories put a human face on the shocking fact that more than 75 million children are currently out of school; of these, two thirds are girls. One in four children in developing countries does not complete five years of basic education, and there are nearly one billion illiterate adults -- one-sixth of the world's people. WIDE ANGLE plans to continue revisiting all the children, and their peers and families, through 2015, the year they should graduate -- and, not coincidentally, the U.N.'s target date for achieving universal education, a Millennium Development goal endorsed by all 191 members of the United Nations.

While each child in Time for School 3 has a unique story, taken together their lives tell an epic tale, shedding light on one of the most urgent and under-reported stories of our time.

For more stories on Wide Angle, click here.