|Reading and writing: Children at a night class in Lang Village. — Photos tintuc.vn
by Mai Thanh Dung
Co Tu ethnic minority pupils in the central province of Quang Nam's Axan, Ch'Om and Lang villages are facing a severe shortage of books to read and write.
Nguyen Quang Tuan, deputy head of the Ly Tu Trong Ethnic Boarding School, who has been working in the school for almost 10 years, said all of his students had to borrow books from the school and return them by the end of the school year.
In the past the school did not have enough books to lend, so many students had to drop out of school, Tuan said, and added, that is when he began to think of collecting books from others.
By early 2012, he collected more than 300 different books which have been distributed to seven locations of these three villages of Tay Giang District.
The books collected are kept in the Co Tu's house on stilts which had carvings of chickens or buffaloes outside and is decorated with paintings of young men and girls dancing with gongs or hunting wild animals on the inside.
Students now come to the house to read books.
"Those students reading more such books will be awarded with some sweets that are being considered a reward to encourage them to read more," Tuan said.
In Lang Village, this summer the Association for Study Encouragement collected more than 800 books bringing the total number to 1,800 collected from last summer.
This school year, each pupil was supplied one note book, a text book and two pens free, Tuan said.
The village has also set up a board of 66 university and high school students who stay in touch with the pupils. During summers, these students were assigned to teach the pupils from 1st to 9th grades in the evening.
"We teach them to read and write. We are happy to see pupils who are so excited to attend evening class, which has no tables or stools. Pupils sit on a sedge mat on the floor," university student Huynh Van Them said.
Them added that when some students get 10 marks the class is full of joy and laughter.
These evening classes received free electricity from the village people's committee.
"When we have a meeting at the house on stilts in the evening, the classes are arranged for later or earlier. We try not to close it any time," Tuan said.
|In the stacks: Nguyen Ba Hien (first right) by books that he has just collected for local children.
Sixth grader Po Long Thi Nhi said, "We really like to attend class because the teachers are very enthusiastic. They always try their utmost to teach us. I will ask more friends to join the class."
Teacher Pa Lang Thi Hai Yen, head of the Pupils' Contacting Board said, "We teach the pupils to increase their knowledge and not for achievements as it exists in other schools, so we both feel comfortable teaching and learning."
Yen said the teacher often grades marks on the spot so it encourages pupils to learn.
Nguyen Ba Hien, deputy chairman of the Lang Village People's Committee, who is also head of the Study Encouragement Association, said such summer evening classes were very useful for pupils to improve their knowledge and made them more confident to enrol for the new school year.
Apart from learning, organisers also hold dancing and singing events as well as traditional games to help pupils to connect with each other.
Hien said thanks to those efforts, the number of pupils dropping out of class had reduced to 3 from 12 this year.
He said the most difficult thing to ensure in the class was how to have note books because almost all of the collected books were already written so they could be reused.
"We are running short of note books, strip cartoons and short stories for pupils," Hien said.
He said teachers at the boarding school volunteered to contribute their own money to buy books. These teachers also joined activities to raise books from charity organisations.
Teacher Tuan said that every time he returned home in the Red River Delta in the north, he would often go to schools in the area to ask for text books.
To deal with the shortage of books, teachers have also started exchanging books between villages.
"I think we should try to maintain such book shelves to help prevent pupils from dropping out of school. Books are very useful for them because at an isolated border district such as Tay Giang, they do not have any other form of entertainment," he said.
"I call on donors and charity organisations to continue giving books so as to help us continue implementing our programme," Tuan added.
Any individuals and organisations wishing to donate books please call Nguyen Ba Hien, deputy chairman of the Lang Village People's Committee at 01629994589; and Nguyen Quang Tuan, deputy head of the Ly Tu Trong Ethnic Minority Boarding School at 01673827579. — VNS