Sung Thị Tông teaches ethnic children how to wash their hands with soap. — VNA/VNS Photos
THANH HÓA — Spring Village, located on a remote mountainous area bordering with Laos, is one of the poorest parts of Thanh Hóa Province. Storms hit the village every year and often leave classrooms damaged, sweep away school supplies and disrupt the studies of local children.
Sung Thị Tông, a young teacher from the Mông ethnic group, experienced the same losses when she was small and wants to help local children study in better conditions.
The Mông people do not have electricity, and due to a lack of connection with other areas, they make a sustenance living growing corn and rice in the fields.
Tông was one of the lucky children in the village who was able to attend class helped by local teachers, and that made her want to become a teacher herself.
She dreamed of passing on knowledge to children in her hometown who lived in disadvantaged conditions.
In 2016, her dream came true when she officially became a kindergarten teacher and volunteered to set up a school in Spring Village.
The village is 22km from the main commune school, so Tông’s daily journey to the kindergarten is tough.
“To get to the kindergarten, I have to travel on a muddy, steep rocky road with some sections only half a metre wide. One side of the road is mountain, while the other is a sheer drop that you could fall down at any time.
“It takes me five hours to get to school by motorbike in the dry season and the whole day if I walk,” Tông said.
“Those difficulties do not slow me down, but motivate me to get to school faster.”
She recalled that as a child in her tiny classroom, there were three boards set up in three corners of the room so that one teacher could take turns teaching three groups of students at the same time.
“I was lucky to be one of seven children in the village to go to school back then. Our books and pens were all given to us by the teacher. Some students even took their younger brothers and sisters to school to take care of them. While children were practising to read in class, their brothers and sisters slept.”
Tông’s love for teaching was motivated from this experience and the affection she was shown by the teachers when she was small.
Tông is now the only teacher of a kindergarten class for three age groups in Spring Village.
She has visited every family to persuade the parents to send children to school. Thanks to her efforts, all children aged three and over in the village now attend school.
Tông uses the Mông ethnic language and Vietnamese to teach the children.
She also makes use of natural materials such as tree bark, nuts, forest leaves and gravel to create toys and decorate the classroom and school garden in order to create an exciting learning environment for the children to school.
Her greatest joy is seeing the students eager to go to school every morning.
Teacher Sung Thị Tông welcomes children to the class.
“On the first days at school, I cried a lot feeling sad and lonely because I had to stay by myself in the classroom overnight due to the distance,” she said.
Now that she is a kindergarten teacher, she is constantly thinking about how to provide enough school supplies for the children, as well as toys to play with.
She has contacted the commune school and voluntary groups to ask for donations of toys, desks, chairs and other supplies.
In response, a voluntary group named Búp Măng Non (Young Shoots) recently visited the kindergarten and held a Mid-Autumn Festival party for the children, while local authorities in Thanh Hóa Province cover food expenses for children who board at the kindergarten.
Tông was awarded a certificate for being an excellent role model in the education sector at a national ceremony this month.
“Although there are still many difficulties ahead, I will, together with the teachers and staff at the school, continue to bring enthusiasm to the children.
“I hope that the kindergarten will receive assistance from local authorities and donors to shorten development gaps between this area and provide children with the best playing and studying conditions,” she said. — VNS