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School slammed for circus debacle

Update: October, 17/2013 - 09:54


by Khanh Linh

This is a story about a circus, but it's not as delightful as it should be. It's also about a senior teacher who stepped in to convert an otherwise appalling situation.

A mother whose child is studying at Tay Mo A kindergarten in Ha Noi's Tu Liem District recently shared a real story on a social website. Several days ago, the State-run kinder hired a circus to perform in its grounds to mark the beginning of school year. Each child was asked to bring VND40,000 (US$1.90) to buy a ticket.

On the day, the circus, together with clowns, colourful animals and the usual joyous music, showed up. Every child downed whatever they were doing and rushed wide-eyed to the classroom windows.

But over the noise and squeals of joy came a loudspeaker voice from the management board's office instructing students whose parents didn't pay for a ticket to stay in the classrooms. The voice said this was to ensure a fair deal for those whose parents had paid.

Those with tickets were quickly shown to seats in the schoolyard to see the show. The poor kids left in the classroom began to cry as they saw most of their mates rushing off to the show. They cried even louder when they heard the welcome voices of clowns over the din of drum beats and music.

Fortunately, as Dat Viet newspaper reports, after the introductory fanfare, vice-head of the kindergarten, Tran Thi Mai Hoai, announced that following a decision by teachers, children with no tickets would be allowed out to see the show.

The story received thousands of comments within a few days of being posted. Most people were furious at the school's original action. They called teachers cold-blooded monsters who knew little about education.

However, some thought it was a case of "no ticket no show" because it was not a charitable event. They argued that the school hired the circus following the expectations of most parents who wanted something special for their kids on their big day.

They tried to make the point that parents who had paid might be upset at having to support those who didn't. They argued that the paying parents might not be so generous next time, because they could wait for someone else to pay. This of course would almost certainly mean no more circuses.

While the kindergarten in question may have assured fair play for parents who paid, it seems to have forgotten the main purpose of having a circus at a kindergarten is to bring joy and laughter to all the kids.

Dr Dinh Thi Ngoc Oanh from Ha Noi based-Children Psychology Research Centre, said children were much more sensitive than adults realised. What happens at an early age may affect their whole life.

Some would easily forget hurtful incidents, but others would see it as their world being divided into the "haves" and "have-nots". This is obviously not the message that schools, especially State-run schools, are supposed to pass on in Viet Nam.

During the recent lunar Mid-autumn Festival in my ward last month, a group of young people was mobilised by their parents to take gifts to poor children at their homes. Parents even paid for the presents! Later, all children in the ward, rich and poor, joined in a free party with games, fruit, and moon cakes.

It's time all teachers realised that to educate a child is not all about academics, but also about lessons in life. Teachers need to try and make sure children will not be discriminated against emotionally or otherwise - in any circumstances. This will help them learn not to hurt others and to deal with all situations in a fair and reasonable manner. — VNS

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