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Teachers in remote mountainous areas burdened with housing shortage

Update: February, 18/2018 - 09:00
Boarding house for teachers of Lương Thế Vinh High School in Ba Đồn Town, central Quảng Bình Province. — Photo baoquangbinh.vn
Viet Nam News

QUẢNG BÌNH — For Vàng Thị Máy, a teacher at Hà Xúng Primary School in the northern province of Hà Giang, a day usually begins at 4 o’clock in the morning.

After preparing breakfast for her family, she leaves home at 5 o’clock, driving about 30km to the school in Phố Cáo Commune, Đồng Văn District. The winding hilly roads in the remote mountainous area challenge her driving skills, particularly during foggy or rainy days.

Máy remembered many times, she fell off her motorbike while driving but found no one to ask for help. She just sat down and waited for the pain to be relieved and continued the journey.

“The way home seems longer and rougher as I finish work at school in late afternoon,” Máy said, adding that she was afraid of driving the last 10km home because of the terrible road.

“It’s sometimes so foggy that I cannot see my feet. In rainy days, the road is so muddy and slippery,” Máy told Xây dựng (Construction) newspaper.

It costs her at least VNĐ1.5 million (US$66) monthly to travel to the school by motorbike while her total monthly salary is about VNĐ6 million ($264).

Another teacher at Hà Xúng Primary School, Mừng Thị Bảy, stays near the school because her home is over 130km away. On weekends, she usually catches a coach to visit her family who are living in Hà Giang City.

Bảy said that she spent about VNĐ1.5 million a month on renting a small accommodation near the school. She added that it was not easy to find accommodation in such remote area.

The teacher, who has worked for 23 years, said that she never heard about the Government’s housing policy to support teachers and of course, she received no support.

To avoid travelling a long distance, other teachers choose to stay at a public house for school staff, rental houses or makeshift houses near their schools. However, the housing problems of teachers, especially those in remote areas, have not been solved properly.

Nhân dân (People) newspaper has reported on the shortage of housing for teachers in central province of Quảng Bình as an example of the problem.

According to the Trade Union of the Education sector in the central province of Quảng Bình, with nearly 1,400 public flats, the province arranged accommodations for 1,872 officers and teachers.

About 3,000 other teachers, including 2,000 women, want to live at public flats to reduce hardship at work.

Vice head of Education Department in Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province Võ Hải Quân said that all schools in remote mountainous areas in the district did not have public housing for teachers while many young teachers working there are from other localities and they wanted to live in boarding houses.

Most of the migrant teachers had to rent houses or stayed at local residents’ houses, he said.

Along the border between Việt Nam and Laos in Bố Trạch District, there are nine branches of Thượng Trạch Primary School. The branches were built to help students avoid travelling too far to reach their schools.

For teachers who work at the school’s branches, they built makeshift houses to meet minimum needs.

Principle of Thượng Hóa Primary and Secondary School, Trần Giang Nam, said that the school had a branch in Yên Hóa Commune, Minh Hóa District, where most students were from the Rục ethnic group.

“Rục people are very poor. Their houses are too small to offer accommodation for teachers,” Nam said.

“Teachers who work at the school’s branch have to stay in their classrooms,” Nam said, adding that they usually put tables close to each other to sleep on.

Meanwhile, 40 teachers of Phan Bội Châu High School in Tuyên Hóa District are living in degrading boarding houses which were built 26 years ago.

“Local authorities granted land to build houses for teachers but the school does not have funds to start construction,” Nam said.

Vice Principle of Lương Thế Vinh High School, Trần Thanh Hải, said that its boarding houses with ten rooms were built in 1976 and have now been downgraded seriously.

The school could only arrange boarding houses for 12 staff members and their families while dozens of other staff members had to rent houses.

Head of the province’s Education Trade Union Nguyễn Tất Thiện said that because of the modest budget, the province failed to fund housing projects for teachers.

In the last few years, the Trade Union raised a fund, calling for donations from individuals and organisations to build houses for teachers.

Thiên said that thanks to the fund, they built three to five buildings yearly which would be used as public housing for teachers working in remote mountainous areas. Each building costs at least VNĐ500 million ($22,000 ). — VNS

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