Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NGÃI – It’s 6am on a summer morning, and a group of children are doing warm-up exercises to prepare their muscles for a special kind of swimming class.
This class is unique, as it takes place in a partitioned-off river section running through Trà Thủy Commune in central Quảng Ngãi Province’s Trà Bồng District, and its goal is survival.
The free-of-charge swimming class was launched by Trà Xuân Secondary School teachers to provide as many as 60 students aged between 12-15 with basic techniques to survive in the water, the Tuổi trẻ (Youth) reported.
Witnessing that most cases of drowning were students, the school teachers in the mountainous Trà Bông District decided to spend their summer teaching survival skills for the students in the region, which is home to many rivers, lakes, springs and dams.
Field studies were conducted to find a section of the Trà Bồng River in Trà Thủy Commune that is suitable for swimming practice. Here, the river bed is hollow and flat, while the surface area is wide and the water is transparent.
Teacher Nguyễn Anh Vũ, a swimming instructor, always comes to “the class” an hour early to wait for the children.
"It starts at 6am, but I come first to prevent children from spontaneously jumping into the water, it’s dangerous. These children are at a hyperactive age," Vũ said.
"That even one more child is able to swim makes us happy. I do hope that our modest job helps reduce the number of drowning deaths."
Little deed, big joy
A recent survey of Quảng Ngãi Province’s Youth Union reported 17,000 among a total of 173,000 primary and secondary-school pupils can swim, equal to 10 per cent.
Trần Minh Điệp, Head of Trà Bồng District’s Education Department, said "Hopefully this model will be maintained and expanded in the whole province. Local children can enjoy a safe summer vacation.”
Drowning is still one of the leading causes of mortality among children in Việt Nam, particularly during the summer time, despite efforts to deal with the problem.
Facing such situation, Deputy Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) Đào Hồng Lan once said that schools should teach swimming skills for students. He suggested that swimming training could even be conducted in rivers.
For the safety of the Trà Bồng school teachers and students joining the ‘field swimming pool’, safety work was also cared for with lifebuoys being tied around the river section.
To facilitate safe teaching and learning, 60 students of Trà Xuân Town’s secondary school are divided into two classes and required to wear life-jacket during the lesson.
Prior to underwater practice, they learn swimming theory and techniques. Sometimes, the school’s health workers are also present to support the class.
The swimming class on the Trà Bồng River is not just educational; it is also filled with smiles of both instructor and trainees. Many parents also come to see the children practise.
Hồ Thị Hà, mother of a 12-year old boy, said "I am afraid to send children to the river. Now seeing teachers are guiding from the basic swimming techniques, to emergency first-aid skills, I really think it’s a precious lesson”.
Not only providing basic skills for children, the swimming lessons are also the ideal summer playground. "My family is close to the river, but had taught me how to swim,” said Phạm Thành Tài, a student of Trà Xuân Town Secondary School.
“Attending the class, I’m taught basic skills, and I learn how to deal with dangerous situations on the water by instructors. It’s very useful. It’s really a fun time, and we are no longer afraid of water," said Tài. — VNS