|Hồ Thủy Và (centre, second row) with children at Hồng Thủy Preschool in A Lưới District in central Thừa Thiên Huế Province. — Photo giaoducthoidai.vn|
THỪA THIÊN HUẾ — Hồng Thủy Preschool used to be a severely downgraded building with no electricity, no clean water, and no toilets in a particularly disadvantaged area in central Thừa Thiên-Huế Province.
Children, aged between three and five years old, had no tables and chairs to play or study. They had to sit or lie on the floor for activities.
After 13 years, the school is now a stable facility with three fully-equipped classrooms, a kitchen, a headteacher's office and an accounting room. The school has also opened five facilities in four other villages, welcoming hundreds of local ethnic children in the area.
The transformation of the school is thanks to the tireless efforts of Hồ Thủy Và, who put a lot of hard work into repairing and upgrading the school and refused to give up during those challenging years.
Và started her job as a pre-school teacher at Hồng Thủy Preschool in 2008. The preschool was a group of five temporary classrooms in four different villages in Hồng Thủy Commune in A Lưới District. Each classroom was between four and eight kilometres from each other.
The first preschool
On her first day, Và was shocked by the school’s facilities. The classrooms had no toilets, no clean water, and no teaching tools. All she had was ten sets of tables and chairs, which was not enough for all the children. Some were forced to lie on the floor to paint.
Và decided to do something to improve the situation. She asked the principal to hold a meeting with parents to build a water pipeline and a toilet for the classroom in Village 4. The school would pay for the materials and parents would help build it.
|A downgraded temporary classroom at Trù Pỉ Village before it was renovated.|
After three days searching for the nearest water source, which was more than 3km from the class, Và consulted with the communal People's Committee and the Education and Training Office, and gained the financial support for this job.
Four months later, she asked the local authority to allocate funds to cook meals for children and found four people to learn cooking skills.
“I proposed that preschool projects should be given priority. This means other work, such as the construction of local roads had to be temporarily suspended. Fortunately, my suggestion was approved,” she told the online newspaper giaoducthoidai.vn.
In February 2009, the commune invested in building the headquarters of the preschool. In July, Hồng Thủy Preschool, located in Village 4 in Hồng Thủy Commune, was put into operation.
Và was assigned as deputy head of the school and then later headteacher.
|The classroom at Trù Pỉ Village after being upgraded. The site is among six sites of Hồng Thủy Preschool.|
More challenges ahead
There were more challenges ahead for Và and her colleagues.
The school had good facilities, but without teaching equipment, it can’t be a school for kids. The parents were too poor to pay for meals for their children.
Và was struggling to manage the situation when Typhoon Ketsana hit the area and submerged classrooms for days.
Traffic was blocked but Và didn’t give up. She walked to school to check the damage, clean the classrooms, and one more time asked the local authority and parents to help repair the school.
Two weeks later, the school re-opened.
Two years later, the school started repairing its second site in Pa-ay resettlement area.
The resettlement area had no roads and most households lived in poverty.
Và made a bold decision. She turned the temporary classroom into a boarding school and supplied meals for children.
“The school has mobilised teachers and employees to contribute VNĐ15,000 per month for the school’s poor children, so we can help those in extremely difficult circumstances. All of the children here have partly received support from the State budget, and the fund will pay the rest,” she said.
The policy has attracted more students to go to the school. The number of students across all sites increased from 195 to 265 children. Two out of six sites have supplied meals for kids.
In 2014, Và managed to work with Dutch Lady Milk Company and Live and Give Fund to build two classrooms, a staff room and a kitchen at a cost of VNĐ1.4 billion ($61,054).
In 2018, Và got financial support to repair six temporary classrooms on the other three sites, but the money was not enough to build a kitchen in Trù Pỉ Village.
She and her colleagues took turns carrying food from the headquarters in Village 4 to the classrooms in Trù Pỉ Village until the district’s authority allocated funds for a kitchen in 2020.
Và has completed the goal of building boarding school sites of Hồng Thủy Preschool, bringing better education to children in the district after 13 years of working tirelessly and persistently.
Và was honoured as an excellent educator of Thừa Thiên Huế this year. — VNS