Mother and son work to eliminate illiteracy for poor children

December 20, 2022 - 11:00
Located in a small alley on Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street, a class has fulfilled the dreams of many poor students for 40 years.
Hải and his students in class. — Photo

HCM CITY — Located in a small alley on Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street, a class has fulfilled the dreams of many poor students for 40 years.

The class was established by the Phú Mỹ Ward People's Committee in 1982 in District 7, HCM City and was managed by teacher Ngô Thị Mạnh Hòa.

She handed over the class to her son Phan Trung Hải, 24, six years ago.

Hải, a student of the HCM City University of Education, replaced his mother in teaching disadvantaged students.

With Hải's love and enthusiasm, the special class is always full of joy and studious spirit.

Hòa said that when the class was established, it faced many difficulties, especially at the beginning of the new school year.

It was because the class’s facilities are limited, partly because it is very difficult to encourage the children to go to class.

Many parents did not want to let their children attend the class as they were afraid the children would not have time to help with housework.

“After the children attended the class, their parents realised the benefits and meaning. Their children were more obedient and diligent. Therefore, many families have agreed to let their children study,” said Hòa.

From a few students at first, the number of students increased gradually over the years.

“Many of the children at first were very stubborn, but after a while, they were obedient and made remarkable progress," Hòa said.

Hòa added that when her son Hải was in high school, he did not focus on his studies. So she often took Hải to the class to see how many poor students still love learning.

Seeing his mother's meaningful work, about six years ago when Hải was a first-year student at a transport college, Hải asked to help his mother teach the class every night.

Referring to the time when he was a high school student, Hải said: “At that time I only enjoyed playing and made my mum sad a lot. I saw my mother is old but still teaches poor children for free, I felt tormented and determined to focus on studying and supporting my mother in teaching the class.”

Hòa said that at first, Hải was quite troubled as he lacked qualifications in education. But after only a month, with determination and perseverance, Hải gradually gained trust not only from his mother but also from his students.

“My joy now is no longer gathering with friends or travelling, but simply seeing children who cannot afford to go to school develop a love for studying. And I’m happier in helping them have a more stable life and future,” said Hải.

While teaching the class, Hải realised that his favourite major was education. Therefore, in 2019, after graduating from the College of Waterway Transport No 2 and starting a career with a salary of VNĐ10 million (US$420), Hải quit his job.

Hải said: “As I was a sailor, working on high-speed ships and cruise ships, I had to go far from home for a whole week, so who would take care of the class? How will the children be? That's why I quit. I feel happier when accompanying poor children."

To gain skills to teach the children, in August 2020, Hải took the entrance exam for the HCM City University of Education, and he passed.

Over the years, besides studying, Hải is in charge of all class activities, including extracurricular activities.

Now the class has about 40 children, from six to 17 years old.

Hải teaches eight subjects including maths, Vietnamese, history, ethics, English, fine arts, informatics and music.

At exactly 4.30pm, from Monday to Saturday, the students gather at the class to study.

Each child has a unique situation, but most of them face difficulties and hardship at home and cannot afford to go to school.

Many children collect scrap iron for sale in the morning and go to class in the afternoon, and then go to work in the evening.

Some children have illnesses and learning difficulties, meaning Hải must give private lectures and teach overtime. But all of them are studious, polite and respect each other.

“What I have always wondered about is that the number of students in the class fluctuates constantly. Some families have to change their accommodation because of their work. The children have to follow their parents to new places and are forced to drop out of class," Hải said.

Dương Hải Lộc, 11, from Đồng Tháp Province, has studied in the class since 2018.

He said: “I really want to go to school like my peers, but my family doesn't have enough money. Since studying in teacher Hải's class, I feel very happy. Hải has helped me a lot. I will try my best to study well so as not to disappoint him." — VNS