One of the things that really gets my goat about living in such an affluent city as Hong Kong is the traffic situation around schools. Sure some parents do not want their offspring risking life and limb on a minibus ride from hell and the school bus may not be convenient for all, but with little to no visitor parking, is it really necessary for the little princes and princesses to be chauffeured to school like miniature dignitaries? Every morning and afternoon, a first-world virus of gridlocked seven-seater eco-destroyers spreads from each educational epicentre.
The children featured in The Most Dangerous Ways to School (TVB Pearl, tomorrow at 9.30pm), who must walk for miles across treacherous terrain and negotiate rivers just to make it to class, would likely kill for a cushy ride to school. With education their only shot at a better life, these brave youngsters face a hair-raising, often dangerous adventure each and every day just to gain an education. From the savannas of Tanzania, complete with wild animals, to the coldest city in the world, where temperatures of minus 75 degrees Celsius make every step a challenge of its own, The Most Dangerous Ways to School documents 10 school runs from around the world.
This week's premiere begins in the mountains of Nepal, with a farmer's young son who works in the fields every morning before setting off on a two-hour trek to school. With his classroom in a valley on the other side of a raging river, he has no other option than to cross the torrent in a ramshackle hand-pulled metal basket suspended from two rusty cables. This deathtrap is, frankly, terrifying and the locals worry how long the home-made contraption will last. If the boy and his fellow pupils make it across safely, it's just a simple hitchhike along the highway and hopefully they'll arrive in time for class. The dedication to learning and the quest for a better life is awe-inspiring.
Education of a rather different kind is laid bare in two-part BBC documentary The Most Famous School in the World (TVB Pearl, Friday at 9.30pm). Maybe it's the five-meals-a-day regimen that has helped exclusive boys' boarding school Eton produce 19 British prime ministers (including the current one, David Cameron) and countless other pillars of the fat-cat elite.
The Most Famous School in the World follows James, Theodore and Faramade (above) as they navigate a first term of ridiculous new lingo, with no doubt a few initiation ceremonies thrown in, at the renowned toff-shop. Having all won scholarships to attend the school, these boys are far from your typical Etonians.
"If I didn't take the scholarship, I'd be in financial crisis," says James, in an unusu-ally posh manner for a boy from Essex.
Everything the boys encounter is alien to their former lives, and raises the question: will their first step on the class ladder serve to distance them from their family and friends?
If, like me, you were too poor for posh school, you'll probably empathise more with the fearless Nepalese children than the privileged pupils of Eton College.