For children in Huoi, Ha, a remote village in the Dien Bien province, Vietnam, they understand that education is absolutely necessary if they are to get out of poverty.
That being said, they will go to extremes when it comes to attending class.
Even if it means climbing into a plastic bag to be dragged across a raging river.
Most of the year, flimsy bamboo bridges and rafts are used in the village but during the rainy season when the river floods — it is not safe.
“Healthy men, fluent in rivers,” are given the task of pulling more than 50 schoolkids across the deadly torrents.
The kids, while they are afraid, are determined. The crossing is very dangerous as only a small mistake can be swept away by very strong floodwaters.
The head of Huoi Ha village, Mr. Vo A Giong, stated:
“Now this stream is very dangerous, my relatives usually take the children by raft but now cannot use it. I hope that the state will invest in suspension bridges soon for people to travel more conveniently. ”
Principal of Na Sang secondary school boarding school, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy, also believed that something needed to be done about the situation.
“The flood rains have divided Huoi Ha village,” she said. “From our school, there are more than 50 students in Huoi Ha village and so far, the teachers and parents have mobilized the children to attend classes the best they can.”
“However, traveling is also difficult. We also hope that in the coming school years, there will be more investment from the state with more modern bridges to bring children to school in these rainy seasons.”
As getting across the river is just the beginning for these loyal kids, a hike of five hours in slippery forest roads awaits them before they even step foot at school.
Thanks to Vov.Vn and their investigative journalism, it seems that a solution to this issue could be coming soon – as after the release of the original article – the Minister of Transport Nguyen Van stated the following:
“After receiving the press agencies’ feedback on the situation of students still in the village Huoi Ha having to carry plastic bags to cross Nam Chim flood stream to school due to lack of investment in transport infrastructure, the Ministry of Transport has instructed Vietnam Road Administration to coordinate with local authorities at all levels to check and consider this issue.”
Vietnam is working towards bettering their teaching practices — wanting schools to learn more about their teaching methodologies and materials used by foreign-language training centers in Vietnam.
But many English teachers in Vietnamese schools are poorly qualified.
The Ministry’s Department of Secondary Education, Dang Hiep Giang, explained how teachers’ qualifications varied from region to region.
With most teachers in disadvantaged areas having lower qualifications, while the better teachers in said areas left for bigger cities.
Vietnam has two English-training programes, including one for third to 12th graders in provinces and cities with developed socio-economic conditions and the other for sixth to 12th graders in less developed areas.
Giang said the former program should be used in the entire country.