The children walking along the dusty road, each with a thick stack of textbooks under their arm, are probably an hour away from school. For miles around, there is no sign of anything much: a scattering of stilted houses in the yellowing paddy fields, some buffalo trudging through a road-side ditch, a bridge over the trickle of a river.
In western Nepal, as in much of the country, indeed as in many rural areas in the developing world, schools are a luxury, not a right. In these parts, a 90-minute walk to school is an unremarkable fact of life. Among the children making this daily pilgrimage are girls sponsored by Room to Read, an educational charity that the Financial Times is supporting in this year’s seasonal appeal.