|Students at Điệp Sơn school receive certificates of merit after the end of the school year. Photo tienphong.vn|
Students living in Điệp Sơn island village in Vạn Ninh District, Khánh Hòa Province, located 50km from the mainland, are struggling to access education.
Many teachers had strived to bring education to children on the island, the province's remote coastal village. But then they left due to difficulties, causing concerns for the local education sector.
Điệp Sơn Village in Vạn Thạnh Commune is home to about 108 households. People here mostly earn their living at sea.
Nguyễn Ngọc Mẫn, head of Điệp Sơn Village, said a dozen years ago, islanders lived separately from the mainland, so most of them were illiterate.
After 1975, people in the mainland started travelling to the island.
“The local government had sent teachers to teach students on the island in temporary classes which were held in local houses. Then classrooms were built. The walls were made of a mixture of clay and mud with bamboo frames and the roof was covered with leaves," Mẫn told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
"These temporary classrooms made people depressed and they dropped out."
In 2003, a school was also built, called Điệp Sơn school, under the Vạn Thạnh Primary and Secondary School on the mainland.
Local children were very happy because they finally had a real school to attend.
Many teachers came here to bring education to the island.
However, due to the lack of teaching facilities and difficult living conditions, many teachers left the island, Mẫn said.
Graduating from Nha Trang Pedagogy College, Ngô Thị Nhanh, a 25-year-old teacher, was assigned to teach at the school in 2016.
In 2017, Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Nhung, 26, a teacher from Vạn Thạnh Primary and Secondary School, volunteered to go to the island to help students.
“In the first days of working on Điệp Sơn island, I was very surprised because the island still lacked fresh water and electricity and the phone signal is unstable," Nhung said.
"The most difficult thing is still traveling. There is only one boat going to the mainland every two days. I have to wake up at 4am to go home at the weekend."
In the rainy season, Nhung and Nhanh have to stay on the island for a month.
Nhung said sometimes she wanted to return to the mainland to work and take care of her parents. But her love for local residents and students kept her here.
Education is not usually a priority because parents are so busy with work all day.
Teachers have become second mothers to take care of their health and studies, Nhung said, adding that they also opened extra classes for free to help students improve their education.
"I am very sad when I have to leave my students to return to the mainland to take care of my elderly parents. This land and the students left me with so many memories," said Nhung.
"I hope there will be more young teachers who are passionate about their profession to help the students here keep learning."
|A teacher with her students during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Photo tienphong.vn|
There are only 35 students from grade 1 to 5 studying at the school so students are combined into two classes.
Due to a lack of power, students and teachers take advantage of sunlight to study. On rainy days, the classrooms are dark, so students participate in extracurricular activities and their lessons will be taught over the following days.
After graduating from grade 5, the students leave school to follow their parents to the sea to make a living.
Some of the children were sent to the mainland to continue their studies, but then they also dropped out and returned to the island. Phạm Văn Đô, a 17-year-old student, is one of the rare children in the village who studied until grade 9. But after that, Đô did not continue his studies and returned home to help his parents.
“At first, I was very happy to come to the mainland, but I don't like the noisy and busy life there. After finishing 9th grade, I returned home to help my parents," Đô said .
"I don't want my studies to be a burden on my parents."
Last year, four students who finished grade 5 were sent to the mainland to continue their studies. But after a few months, they also dropped out of school and returned to the village.
Nguyễn Công Hoan, principal of Vạn Thạnh Primary and Secondary School, said: “The school in Điệp Sơn island often faces a shortage of teachers. Luckily, teachers Nhung and Nhanh helped students on the island access education in the 2016-2021 academic years."
"In this new school year, we have to send some teachers from the mainland to teach students on the island every week due to a shortage of teachers." — VNS