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Male teachers honoured with award

Update: October, 29/2017 - 09:00
We can: A class in Tri Lễ Commune.The difficulties in reaching the commune has meant that the local primary school only has male teachers. VNS Photo Nguyễn Hồng Hiệp
Viet Nam News

There are some amazing male teachers in Nghệ An province.

It is very difficult for women to work in the province’s most faraway places. The roads are muddy and there are few comforts.

Teachers need to be fit and strong.

This year they received a special award for their work in this remote place.

By Minh Đức

The Tri Lễ 4 Primary School is an educational institution like no other in the country.

Thirty-five years since its establishment in the central province of Nghệ An, it does not have a single female teacher. To say that this is highly unusual, especially for a primary school in a rural area, would be an understatement.

But the reason is very simple. The conditions are too difficult for women to manage.

Located in Tri Lễ Commune, the school has 44 male teachers aged 24 to 60, who take turns teaching classes in six villages. The village schools, are located near the residential areas of locals, mainly members of Mông ethnic group.

From the commune’s centre to the schools, the teachers have to ride around 40km on motorbikes, of which just10km are paved. The rest of the way is a muddy path that comes very slippery on rainy days. They always go in group to help each other on the way.

On rainy days, they have to carry the bikes to overcome the slippery parts. It is normal that many slip and fall, despite being careful.

What is heartening and amazing is that despite the hardships, the teachers encourage each other and continue teaching to their beloved students.

The Huổi Mới 2 School in the hamlet of the same name has perhaps the worst conditions in Tri Lễ Commune. It has 60 students from the first to the fifth grade. Mông kids from 10 different mountain villages, some located 10km away wake up at 4am and traverse mountain paths and wade through streams to get to school.

“The distance is not long, but it takes one to three hours to reach, depending on the weather,” says Lương Ngọc Xuyến, a member of the Thái ethnic minority, who has taught at the school for four years.

Due to the extremely difficult road conditions, only physically fit male teachers can work here, although some female teachers are keen on the job.

Xuyến says even male teachers find it difficult to travel by motorbike to this school. “Our strength quickly fades. Sometimes I feel I’m not strong enough to steer the motorbike.

“My motorbike has to be repaired once or twice a month. Many parts quickly wear out. Every two months, I have to change the tires, rims have to be replaced constantly.”

Actually, it has only been four years since the teachers are able to ride motorbikes to the Huổi Mới 2 School. Before, they had to trek on a narrow path.

Here, there are no roads, no electricity, no Internet, no clean water. To make a phone call, the teachers must walk 3km up a steep hill to catch the signal. When it rains all weekend, the young teachers must stay at school, taking turns picking vegetables, gathering bamboo shoots and forest banana stalks, and catching fish.

At night, they prepare for the next day’s lessons in the light of an oil lamp.

Lang Văn Nhàn, headmaster of the Tri Lễ 4 Primary School, says the teachers don’t just suffer poor living conditions, they are also emotionally deprived a lot of the time. They live far away from home. Some of them have actually chosen to remain single.

“The teachers can visit their families once or twice a month if the weather is fine,” says Nhàn. “In the rainy season, the commune is isolated by floods and the road is totally unusable. Then they can’t go home for several months.”

Nguyễn Hồng Hiệp, 36, has taught at the primary school for 15 years. He admits that there have been times he wanted to give up because he missed his family and two children.

“I’m a teacher but I can’t teach my children any lessons. My wife and grandparents take care of them. Sometimes I feel sad and homesick.”

However, the teachers also harbour love and compassion for the poor students in the remote area, and this is what helps them deal with all the obstacles. That, and their shared passion for teaching keeps them going.

The men provide motherly care for the students, teaching them personal hygiene along side reading and writing.

“I teach the children from the first grade because I know both Vietnamese and the local ethnic languages, because sometimes, the children can’t understand Vietnamese,” said Thò Bá Trù.

“Teaching them to speak, sing, read, and write is quite difficult. They come in knowing nothing wearing ragged dirty clothes, and come to school with dirty hands and feet. We teach them how to dress neatly and wash their hands and feet. When they first came to school, they played as if they were at home. They had no idea about learning.”

The teachers’ reward is increasing recognition among the parents of the importance of learning and giving the children an education. Before 2000, the number of students was very small, mostly boys. The parents didn’t think that girls also need to go to school.

Now, there are 145 students at the Huổi Mới 1 School, evenly divided between boys and girls.

The fruits of their labour become even sweeter for the teachers when students grow up, study further and return to the village to teach younger generations.

The teachers’ devotion was formally recognized and awarded this year at the VTV Awards 2017, an annual event organized by Việt Nam Television. — VNS


GLOSSARY

The Tri Lễ 4 Primary School is an educational institution like no other in the country.

An institution is an organisation.

Thirty-five years since its establishment in the central province of Nghệ An, it does not have a single female teacher.

“Since its establishment”, in this case means “since it was started”.

To say that this is highly unusual, especially for a primary school in a rural area, would be an understatement.

A rural area is a place in the country.

When someone makes an understatement they talk about something as being far smaller, or far less serious, than it really is.

The conditions are too difficult for women to manage.

To manage means to work at keeping something going.

The village schools, are located near the residential areas of locals, mainly members of Mông ethnic group.

Residential areas are areas where people have their homes.

An ethnic group is a community with the same race, religion, language and culture that may be different to other communities.

From the commune’s centre to the schools, the teachers have to ride around 40km on motorbikes, of which just 10km are paved.

Paved roads have a hard surface, such as tar, on them.

On rainy days, they have to carry the bikes to overcome the slippery parts.

To overcome the slippery parts means to ride over them without letting them cause you troubles.

What is heartening and amazing is that despite the hardships, the teachers encourage each other and continue teaching to their beloved students.

If something is heartening it makes you feel people are better than you may have thought they were and there is therefore more reason to feel happy about life.

The Huổi Mới 2 School in the hamlet of the same name has perhaps the worst conditions in Tri Lễ Commune.

A hamlet is an extremely small village.

Mông kids from 10 different mountain villages, some located 10km away wake up at 4am and traverse mountain paths and wade through streams to get to school.

Traverse means to travel across something.

Due to the extremely difficult road conditions, only physically fit male teachers can work here, although some female teachers are keen on the job.

If you are physically fit, your body is fit.

“Our strength quickly fades.”

Fades means disappears.

Every two months, I have to change the tires, rims have to be replaced constantly.”

A rim is part of a wheel.

Before, they had to trek on a narrow path.

To trek means to hike.

Lang Văn Nhàn, headmaster of the Tri Lễ 4 Primary School, says the teachers don’t just suffer poor living conditions, they are also emotionally deprived a lot of the time.

To be emotionally deprived means to not have the love and comfort you have needed.

“In the rainy season, the commune is isolated by floods and the road is totally unusable. Then they can’t go home for several months.”

Being isolated means being cut off and far away from anywhere else.

A road that is unusable cannot be used.

“Sometimes I feel sad and homesick.”

To be homesick means to long for home.

However, the teachers also harbour love and compassion for the poor students in the remote area, and this is what helps them deal with all the obstacles.

Compassion means pity.

Obstacles are things that get in your way.

That, and their shared passion for teaching keeps them going.

If you have a passion for something you love it so much that you do not mind how much time and money you spend on it.

The teachers’ devotion was formally recognized and awarded this year at the VTV Awards 2017, an annual event organized by Việt Nam Television.

Devotion means to do with being very committed.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true or false:

  1. Lang Văn Nhàn is the headmaster of the Tri Lễ 4 Primary School.
  2. Nobody ever slips on rainy days.
  3. The male teachers teach the children how to dress neatly and wash their hands and feet.
  4. Huổi Mới 2 School is in a city.
  5. At night, the teachers prepare for the next day’s lessons in the light of an electric lamp.

 

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False; 5. False.

 

 

 

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