Tâm (centre, third row) with her students at Trần Quốc Toản Primary School in Cư Rút District, Đắk Nông Province. — Photo giaoduc.net.vn
ĐẮK NÔNG — A dirty motorbike and clothes covered in mud and dust and soil have become the norm for teacher Đinh Thị Giang Tâm, who has to travel 100km to Trần Quốc Toản Primary School in Cư Rút District, Central Highlands Đắk Nông Province, every day.
The sacrifice is worth it, though, because the students and other teachers love her due for the enthusiasm and dedication she brings to her job. The school has become a second home for many of her students.
She wakes up at 4am every day to prepare food for her family and then goes to school, leaving her own children to fend for themselves.
Teachers in the region have to overcome many difficulties to teach students at substandard facilities.
After lunch, Tâm takes a rest at the school before taking on the 100km journey home.
Due to her long commute, her five-year old motorbike is practically falling apart.
Tâm said she borrowed money from a bank to buy the motorbike on a five-year deal. Now she will have to take out a new loan to buy another one.
But these problems do not diminish Tâm’s enthusiasm and passion for teaching.
This is an ethnic minority area, so teachers teach both language and life skills.
“It is not about winning awards, it's about connecting with the students. That is my happiness,” Tâm told Giáo dục Việt Nam (Việt Nam Education) online newspaper.
According to Tâm, for ethnic minority children the most important thing is to help them understand why they have to go to school. Why do they have to try to study hard? When do they need to say thank you or apologise? Why must we unite and love people?
With students who struggle, she tries to find the cause of the problem and solve it.
Tâm said she had one student who hated studying maths and literature but loved drawing.
Tâm spoke to her in depth and the girl said she wanted to be an artist.
"I tried to explain to her that becoming a painter was great, but first she had to learn about literature and maths. She would not be able to enter contests without knowing how to read."
Since then the girl has tried harder, but Tâm still spends time developing her drawing skills.
She said she does not want to impose on her students.
During lessons, she always creates conditions for students to express their skills by guiding them to talk and communicate amongst themselves.
This is extremely difficult for ethnic children because their Vietnamese language skills are limited.
That's why she has worked on this during lessons, and only taught what the students needed to move on in life.
She often asks students' parents to pick them up 20-30 minutes after school so she can give them some additional lessons.
After school, many students don't want to go home, and some say they want to stay with Tâm.
After years of working with ethnic minority children in disadvantaged areas, she understands and sympathises with their unfortunate lives.
She has established a club to call for support from organisations and individuals for the poor students in the province.
“Teaching the ethnic students is not easy. But I have a love with the students and their parents. I will try my best to help them have a brighter future,” Tâm said. VNS