Rising above all obstacles

Going to school is an adventure for most students. But, for these children from Atuler, a village located on an 800m-high plateau in Sichuan, China, it was almost a death-defying feat, till this month.

Previously, the only way they could reach their boarding school at the foot of the plateau was to climb down 17 vine ladders. The 15 children, some as young as six, used to make this two-hour trip twice a month, before and after school holidays.

After images of this treacherous school run went viral in May, a new steel ladder was built to replace the old vine structures.

Even though it is still a difficult trek, villagers told the BBC that the upgrade has made a real difference.

Not only is the metal construction more stable, but new features like handrails are making the journey safer. The villagers' weekly trip to the nearest market to sell peppers and walnuts, and buy necessities has also been shortened by an hour.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Rising above all obstacles'. Print Edition | Subscribe