|WORKING OUT: Physical education at Hoa Phong Lan Kindergarten in Sốp Cộp District. VNA/VNS Photos Hữu Quyết|
Teaching in the mountainous border area of the northern province of Sơn La is fraught with difficulties and shortages, but that doesn't dampen the enthusiasm of the teachers who are spreading the knowledge to local children. Their greatest happiness on the Vietnamese Teacher's Day, which falls on November 20, is that all of their students are able to attend class, which motivates them to stick to their tough profession.
Sốp Cộp District, located along the Việt Nam-Laos border, covers a large mountainous area and is home to many ethnic communities such as the Thái, Mông and Khơ Mú people. To travel to school, students and teachers have to overcome long, bumpy and winding roads. Many teachers stay at school and only leave at the weekends. Their week begins at 4am every Monday.
|STRIKE A POSE: Teachers in Sốp Cộp Village have to overcome long, slippery and winding roads to reach their schools.|
“It is the most difficult when it rains and the road becomes slippery. The mud sticks to the wheels of the motorbikes, making it impossible to move. It sometimes takes half a day to arrive at the school,” said Lò Thị Nga, a teacher of Mường Lạn Primary School.
|REACHING OUT: Hà Thì Thâm, a teacher of Hoa Phong Lan Kindergarten, visits a remote village to encourage a family to send their children to school.|
An indispensable part of their journey is bread and water, as there are no grocery stores along the way. When it rains for a whole month, the teachers do not go home. Their regular food then is eggs, dried fish or noodles.
After teaching and preparing for the lessons, they also take their leisure time to grow vegetables to enrich their and their students' meals. Another part of their job is frequently visiting remote villages to encourage parents to send their children to school.
Quàng Văn Hồng, the principal of Mường Lạn Primary School, said: “Compared to male teachers, female teachers have more hardship. Not only teaching, they also have to take care of their families and children. It's tough, but they're very passionate about the job. They treat students like their children or brothers and sisters in the family.”
As home to many ethnic groups who live scattered among the mountains, Sơn La Province has an illiteracy problem that has greatly affected socio-economic development. Sơn La Border Guards have coordinated with the local education sector and authorities to organise night literacy classes in the border area, including Sốp Cộp District. So far, 24 classes with 422 students have opened in the locality.
|HELPING HAND: Lieutenant Vi Văn Liêm is one of the 'soldier' teachers based in Sốp Cộp District. VNA/VNS Hữu Quyết|
“Thanks to those ‘soldier’ teachers and the efforts of others in the Sơn La education sector, the literacy rate among ethnic communities in Sốp Cộp District has increased significantly,” said Nguyễn Văn Chiến, Deputy Director of the Department of Education and Training of Sơn La Province. VNS
|BIG ACHIEVEMNT: Thanks to ‘soldier’ teachers and the efforts of others in the Sơn La education sector, the literacy rate among ethnic communities in Sốp Cộp District has increased significantly.|