|Bùi Thị Hồng Hoài writes on the board. — Photo baohatinh.vn|
HÀ TĨNH — Twenty-six years ago, teacher Bùi Thị Hồng Hoài left her hometown in Đức Thọ District, in the central province of Hà Tĩnh, and moved to a remote border village in Phú Gia Commune, Hương Khê District.
The 54-year-old teacher became a resident of Phú Lâm Village to help local children access education.
Hoài told baohatinh.vn, a local online newspaper, that she still remembers her first days in the village.
"At that time, the class was held in a local resident's house. To get there I had to walk through five streams and rocky roads," Hoài said.
"I don't even remember how many times I fell during the journey. But I had to keep my books dry even if I get wet."
For teachers working in remote areas like Hoài, the hardest challenges they face is not the dangerous roads or shortage of facilities. The most difficult thing is to change the thinking of students and their parents about education.
“In Phú Lâm Village, people can be very difficult. They make a living from forests. Some families do not pay much attention to their children's learning, so we must fulfil that role. Maintaining the fixed number of students in a class is our greatest joy every day," Hoài said.
For more than two years, Hoài has taken Trần Trung Kiên, a fourth-grade student, to the school every day. They have to travel more than four kilometres along a narrow mountain road to get to class.
“My parents have to go to the forest and work in the fields to earn money to buy medicine to treat my kidney disease. Teacher Hoài has become my second mother to take care of my studies. Every day, she takes me to school, reminds me to take medicines on time and encourages me to keep learning," Kiên said.
|Hoàng Thị Nguyệt with students. — Photo baohatinh.vn|
Like Hoài, teacher Hoàng Thị Nguyệt has been teaching in Phú Lâm Village for 26 years.
Born and raised in Hương Vĩnh Commune, Hương Khê District, Nguyệt understands the hardships of the mountainous people. But the life of people in Phú Lâm Village is more difficult.
"Sometimes, I wanted to give up the teaching in this village. Then I think 'What will the education of children in remote areas be like if no one stays here to teach them'", said Nguyệt.
"Their smiles and innocent eyes motivate me to stay and do a good job,” Nguyệt said, adding that she slowly but surely adapted to her new circumstances.
The year 2019 marked an important milestone for the children of Phú Lâm Village, as VNĐ500 million (US$21,990) was invested to repair and upgrade Phú Gia Primary School.
Temporary classes have been removed. Students and teachers now have a real school with support from the Hà Tĩnh border guards, Phú Gia border station, VTC News online newspaper and Thiện Tâm Fund.
Nguyễn Thị Hạnh, principal of Phú Gia Primary School, said: "In previous years, there were three teachers teaching students from grade one to five. In this school year, the school has only 34 students from grades one to four, including 23 students from the Lào ethnic group."
"To ensure the children's learning, we have to combine students into two classes and only two teachers are in charge of teaching."
Students in grades one and three are learning in one class and grades two and four are in the other, Hạnh said.
The teaching is very hard as the teachers must prepare two lesson plans to cover both grades in the same class.
They have to arrange lessons flexibly to ensure the teaching quality.
Each class is equipped with two blackboards. When the first-graders study literature the third-graders study math, and vice versa.
"In the last two school years, we have implemented a new general education programme, but we have not been able to promote the effectiveness of e-learning textbooks due to unstable internet and the combination of students in one class," said Nguyệt, who is in charge of the first and third-grade class.
"We have to find more pictures related to the lessons to help students understand the lesson more easily."
"We are very happy when we see the changes of the school, classes and the attention of the teachers to the students," said Lê Thị Chung, mother of a fourth-grade student.
|Students in an English lesson. — Photo baohatinh.vn|
In recent years, the school has also begun teaching other subjects like English, music, painting and basic life skills.
"I'm very happy to go to school and learn a lot of good things. I also really enjoy learning English and hope to have more opportunities to learn more about this subject in the future,” Phan Lê Bảo Lộc, a fourth-grade student said.
On Teachers' Day, teachers received greeting cards and flowers picked from the sides of the road from students. For the teachers, these were precious gifts that show gratitude and respect from the students.
"The dedication and love of the teachers here have lighted up the learning for children in the remote border area," Trần Đình Hùng, head of Education and Training Department of Hương Khê District. — VNS