Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Nearly 1,000 students of kindergarten, primary and secondary school have not yet begun attending classes in coastal central Hà Tĩnh Province, although schools officially reopened yesterday nation-wide.
Hà Tĩnh is one of the four localities severely affected by the sea-environment pollution caused by Taiwanese company Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Corporation.
The children have been staying at home instead of going to school because their parents do not have enough money to pay the annual fees at the start of a new school year, Dân trí online newspaper reported.
Nguyễn Thị Hường, a mother of four, living in Kỳ Hà Commune, said fishermen in the area only had two jobs to earn a living – one was catching fish, and the second was making sea salt.
Since early April, when the sea water was contaminated and mass fish deaths were reported, the fishermen were left without jobs, she said.
“How can we cover our children’s school fees?” she added.
Another resident in the commune said he hoped the children would be exempt from paying every school fee.
Trần Minh Đức, principal of Kỳ Hà Primary School, said only 132 of 694 students were going to the school, so far.
The school had sent teachers to the homes of the students to stimulate their families to send them to school but had failed, he said.
“We also have yet to collect any fee to encourage students to go to school,” he added.
Trần Minh Đạo, principal of Kỳ Hà Secondary School, said the government directed schools to exempt or reduce fees for students in the four localities affected by sea-environment pollution.
However, no specific legal document had, until now, been sent to the locality, in this regard. At present, the school had yet to collect any fee, he added.
For the short term, teachers had contributed a fund to support students to go to school. In the long term, other financial supporting activities would be undertaken, he said.
Lê Văn Luyện, chairman of the People’s Committee of Kỳ Hà Commune, said parents of nearly 1,000 students said they would allow their children to go to school when they received compensation for their loss due to sea pollution.
The committee had reported the situation to higher authorised agencies to find a solution, he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Trần Hồng Hà said on August 31, as committed, Formosa had sent compensation to the tune of US$500 million to the government. The compensation is to be distributed among fishermen in the four localities of Quảng Trị, Quảng Bình, Hà Tĩnh and Thừa Thiên Huế this month.
Previously, on June 30, Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng announced that Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Corporation was responsible for large-scale fish deaths in the four localities.— VNS