Dozens of dirt-poor children in a Philippine mangrove village no longer have to swim to school, straining to hold their books above the water.

A blogger who learned how children from Layag-layag village struggled to reach school raised money through Facebook to provide boats to the community in the southern Philippines. A bright-yellow, donated motorboat carried the children to their elementary school off the bustling Zamboanga city on June 6 when the country's more than 25 million students returned to school after a two-month break. The new school year refocuses attention on the ills of Philippines's educational system — congested classrooms, dilapidated buildings and a huge number of dropouts. For years, the youngsters had to swim and wade through about a mile of mostly chest-deep water and cross sandbars to reach school. A teacher said the children arrived in her class with their clothes dripping wet in the past when they could not hitch a ride on fishing boats. Many often came late but a few excelled in school.

“The children were jumping with joy holding their new bags and slippers,” said a charity worker. “They did not appear as excited with the new boat. They've been so used to being in the water.”

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