Viet Nam News
HÀ NÔI – The lack of adequately equipped playgrounds and healthy entertainment activities has become a concern in rural areas, especially during the long summer vacation.
With parents and other adults busy in the fields, unsupervised children are prone to engage in “dangerous, accident prone” games like bathing in rivers with strong currents, climbing trees and playing games on the streets.
Besides, in many rural families, children are told to perform various tasks in the fields, gardens or forests, which means that they have no time to relax and have fun during the vacation.
Nguyễn Thị Thoa, a resident of Nghệ An Province’s Thanh Chương District, said most children in rural areas have no summer vocation.
“My family lives by farming so every child in my family has a job. The oldest child can help me with caring for the buffalos and ducks, cutting grass or catching crabs and snails, while the younger ones can do housework,” she said.
"The children can stop studying at schools, but never stop doing housework and working in the fields," she added.
Nguyễn Văn Minh, a second grader from the province’s Yên Thành District, said looking after the family’s buffalo is his main duty during the summer vocation.
“When I do that, I often catch crabs and snails to earn more money to buy school textbooks in the new school year,” he told the Nông thôn ngày nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.
Nguyễn Thị Lợi, a resident of Kỳ Bắc Commune in the central province’s Kỳ Anh District, said most parents wanted their children to have fun and engage in activities that improve their physical health before new school year, but there were few opportunities and no facilities to do this.
She also said it was necessary to assign housework for children and remind them to review previous year’s lessons so that they do not get addicted to “dangerous” online games.
Nguyễn Thị Thúy, a teacher from Hà Nội’s Chương Mỹ District, said although there was a lot of vacant land available to build playgrounds for children in rural areas, they had no resources even to design the space, far less build things like courts, goal posts, swings and other playing equipment.
Many families are very busy with farming work, so they do not have much time to care for their children. This results in the kids having to play and entertain themselves on summer days, according to the teacher.
Besides the unsafe games mentioned earlier, online games are a threat.
There are many students who study hard during the school year, but when vacation time comes, they enter the world of online games, and become addicted.
Then, after the summer vacation ends, the kids spend less time on studying and more time on playing games. This affects their results at school, and pushes many to drop out.
Nguyễn Duy Thanh, a teacher of Quế Phong Boarding Secondary School in Nghệ An Province, said children living in remote areas were heavily disadvantaged, when compared with children in big cities.
“The majority of ethnic minority students are from families with serious financial difficulties, so they often follow their parents to harvest maize or gather firewood,” said Thanh, who has spent 10 years teaching in remote areas.
“Recreation centres and other places where they can learn life skills are out of reach for children in these areas,” he said.
Trần Xuân Tĩnh, head of the Education Department of Yên Thành District in Nghệ An, also agreed with Thanh. “Children in many rural localities do not have the entertainment options available for children in the city.”
He said this was worrying because the lack of oversight by adults could lead to tragedies like drowning or serious traffic accidents.
In this difficult situation, several parents and officials are showing admirable initiatives to ensure that children in rural areas have a good summer vacation, where they have fun and learn new things at the same time.
Nguyễn Thị Trình, a mother of two daughters in Hà Giang Province’s Hoàng Su Phì District, some 300km from Hà Nội, said that every summer vacation, the local youth union organises a lot of cultural and sports activities for its members.
They can go to the commune’s library to read books or play traditional games or take classes on subjects like drawing or embroidery held by the youth union twice a week.
Trình said more attention should be paid to children, especially those in rural, remote areas so they could improve their physical health, broaden their minds and learn necessary skills that are not taught at schools.
Tĩnh of Yên Thành District said his office co-ordinated with local authorities to organise swimming classes for children.
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Toàn, a teacher from Hương Liên Primary School in Hương Khê District, Hà Tĩnh Province, said she was planning to teach Chứt ethnic minority children some soft skills.
"I have requested the district’s Youth Union to assign five volunteer students to organize summer classes so that children can review their lessons,” she said.
She also plans to organise extra classes to disseminate knowledge on food hygiene and safety, forest fire prevention and offer swimming lessons for children. — VNS