CA MAU (VNS)– The southern province will implement a programme that enables poor children to travel to school via boat, said the director for the provincial department of education and training.
About 6,000 students will receive VND30,000-100,000 (US$1.5-5) each per month while the local government will mobilise organisations such as farmer associations and youth, veteran and women's groups to carry the students for free, said director Thai Van Long.
According to Long's department, Ca Mau has 250km of coastline and 800km of rivers and canals that are almost below sea level, which means there are no means of transportation available in the province other than by boat.
Over 30,000 students must go to school by boat, with many having to wake up as early as 4am or 5am to travel 10km from their home to school. Long criticised the current method of transport as dangerous and bemoaned the fact that children must pay the boat fee, leaving them with less time to relax after school.
Regarding the issue of safety, the province requires boat owners to provide life jackets for students, and has placed restrictions on the amount of people carried per trip.
Though Director Long says it is normal to travel by boat in the area, the local Government hopes to reduce the number of children travelling this way by up to 25,000 by investing in a rural transportation system that includes bridges and roads by 2015. – VNS