Viral: Elementary school students in S. Sulawesi risk lives crossing raging river just to get to school

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I just can’t go to school / work today, it’s too hard” prepare to feel terrible about yourself because we’re sure whatever you were facing wasn’t nearly as bad as the obstacle these elementary school students in the Sinjai district of South Sulawesi had to brave to get to school the morning this video was shot.


The students come from Suka Maju Village, in the Tellulimpoe Sub-district of Sinjai. They were crossing the flooded river in order to get to State Elementary School (SDN) 193 Jennae, which is located in the next village. Even accompanied by adults, you can see how the river’s powerful current nearly drags them away before they can make it to the other side.

The video was originally posted to Facebook by a user named Ipthul Murthi, who wrote in the caption that it was shot on Saturday, May 26, but said that such dangerous river crossings were a constant issue during the rainy season due to the lack of a pedestrian bridge over the river. He also mentioned that while there was road access to get to the school, it was very far away.

Ipthul’s post has since gone viral and been shared more than 6,000 times

The head of South Sulawesi’s Public Relations and Protocol Bureau, Devo Khaddafi, told Kompas the government had never received an official report regarding the need for a bridge over the river from the local administration but said that the budget for one could be allocated when they received one.

This is actually the second viral video about students crossing a dangerous river in South Sulawesi to get to class this year. A previous video showing children risking their lives to get to their school in the village of Bonto Matinngi in the regency of Maros

The government had plans and allocated a budget to build a bridge for the students in Maros since 2015, but construction failed to get off the ground for some reason. But the viral video showing the student’s plight led to a generous outpouring of donations to crowdfunding site, which raised IDR198 million (US$14,275) for the bridge’s construction, work on which is supposedly underway now.

Will the power of virality also lead to a bridge for the students in Sinjai? Although we’re not aware of any crowdfunding efforts yet, Sinjai District Secretary Akbar Mukmin visited the river in the video on Tuesday in order to assess whether a permanent or temporary bridge should be built but promised to solve the student’s crossing dilemma soon.


In many parts of rural Indonesia with poor infrastructure, students must brave dangers like raging rivers or broken bridges just to get to school each day. Volunteers have helped bring bridges to dozens of these villages but are often held back by government bureaucracy.

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