Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Summer is here, but it’s not all sunshine and good times for parents, who struggle to entertain their children during the school break.
A lack of playgrounds is harming children’s physical and spiritual growth and though some facilities exist they are far short of demand, particularly from city families.
When summer comes, children are happy to take a rest after a school year, but their parents feel differently as they struggle to find safe places for their children to play sports.
Like other big cities, the capital Hà Nội doesn’t have enough outdoor entertainment spaces for children. Not all inner-city wards and districts have community places and entertainment programmes.
Meanwhile, places like Tây Hồ water park, Bảo Sơn Paradise Park or places in buildings are always overcrowded on weekends. In these places, there are many activities and games but not all parents can afford to send their kids there.
Like many parents, Nguyễn Thu Ngà, residing in Hoàng Mai District, is anxious because her two children of 12 and six will stay at home for the two month summer vacation.
“Around our area, there are few community spaces for children”, Ngà told Việt Nam News.
“I know there were several camping programmes in recent years, but I could not afford the activities”, said Ngà, who is a public servant married to a policeman.
“My children had to stay at home. They would play games on computers during my working times in the office”, she said sadly.
“I was afraid they would be addicted to the games. But there was no other way”, she said.
Many activities such as camping or English classes have been introduced in recent years, but not all parents can afford them.
On the other hand, many parents who have higher incomes send their children to classes to kill time.
Nguyễn Thế Long, a resident in Hoàn Kiếm District, found many classes to send his kid to during the summer holiday.
“In the morning, my son attends a two hour chess class. After that, he takes a motorbike taxi to a painting class. In the afternoon, he plays with a football club. And on the weekend, he has an English class”, Long told Việt Nam News.
“My son really likes all the classes but I had no choice. I want the summer to end quickly to come back to the normal routine”, he said.
Parents were worried and children felt bored.
“My friends and I wanted to play football but my area did not have any playground”, said a 15-year-old boy named Phạm Anh Khoa.
“In the summer holiday, I hate to be sent to many classes. I learned for nine months. It is time to relax in my way but I can’t”, said Khoa.
“I expect a real summer holiday”, he said.
Đặng Hoa Nam, head of Children Care and Protection Department (under the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs) told Nhân Dân (The People) Newspaper that “the shortage of open-air playgrounds and community activities in wards and districts would lead the children to a passive life”.
“They would sit in front of TV or play games on smartphones during the day, many children became game addicts”, Nam said.
Children’s Palace has long been a venue for parents to send their children during summer vacation.
The palace has more than 20 clubs with 70 kinds of activities but it can’t meet demand.
Dương Việt Hà, the palace’s director said the number of children registering for activities has dramatically increased in summer time, causing overloading.
“There were more than 10,000 children registering for clubs and activities. Each activity had five shifts a day from 7.30am to 9pm. But the palace is always overcrowded”, Hà told Nhân Dân.
Not only big cities suffer a lack of playgrounds, rural areas are the same.
The shortage of playgrounds has not only cost children their leisure time but also caused accidents.
Due to a lack of playgrounds, rural children play in rice fields and uninhabited grounds alongside rivers and lakes, or swim in rivers without adult supervision.
As a result, summer holidays are often a time when injuries to children are high because of drowning, electrocution, falling from trees, burns and other accidents; deaths are not uncommon.
The shortage of playgrounds for children had been a pressing issue for years but the problem has not been solved.
“Playgrounds for children are very important. School yards could be used to organise outdoor activities that would be cheap but interesting”, said Nam.
Social organisations such as the Youth Union and Women’s Union should take a greater role in creating summer programmes for children, said Nam. — VNS