|PRIDE IN LEARNING: The Đỗ Clan in Phú Thanh Tây ward has been spreading learning in their neighbourhood. Photo courtesy of uongbi.gov.vn
by Nguyễn Phái
Quảng Ninh is a land of many clans and families. Many have joint family funds where heads of the line award family prizes and gifts to younger people with outstanding academic achievements or studying or teaching accomplishments.
These clans, which work as a form of large extended families, put education very high on their list of priorities, with scholarships, award ceremonies, and community service all aimed at spreading the pursuit of knowledge and lifelong learning.
In Uông Bí city, there are currently 76 clans with the title "The Learning Clan", making up more than 60 per cent of all families. The Đỗ Clan of Phú Thanh Tây ward has been awarded as "The Progressive Learning Clan" of the city, and it was awarded a certificate by the Quảng Ninh People's Committee for its combined efforts over the past year.
"The Đỗ Clan has actively participated in the studying drive and talent search in a larger movement to build a strong society where education plays a vital role in Quảng Ninh Province," said Vũ Thang, chairman of the Uông Bí City Association for Promoting Education.
The Đỗ elderly cited an ancient saying: "Cho bạc cho tiền không bằng cho nghiên cho bút" (Giving your children silver or money can never be as precious as giving them an ink boat and pen).
The real success of the family came from the grassroots level up. Naming clans as "The Learning Clan" or "The Learning Family", all members of the Đỗ clan in Phú Thanh Tây -- 382 people in 81 households -- are literate and graduated from secondary school.
The clan now has four graduate students, 25 college students, three with a doctorate, eight with a master's degree and many college graduates. All the clan's families have been awarded as "Outstanding" or "Meritorious Learning Families".
Many people of the Đỗ family became professors at the country's prestigious institutions, and in turn, they give prize awards to encourage the younger generation to keep on learning. The elders help the more youthful and, as a result, share knowledge and keep the desire to broaden their understanding.
The Đỗ clan's elderly also help at community centres or learn from readings, book clubs or online. They also participate in agricultural workshops or cultural activities in their community. All families registered to win the "Cultured Family" title share their responsibility in local music and dance activities, keeping the environment clean, and charity campaigns.
|LIFELONG LEARNING: Students making improvements at school are awarded by the Đỗ Clan in a heart-warming ceremony every spring. Photo courtesy of uongbi.gov.vn
In 1963, answering the call of the then provincial leadership, the first members of the Đỗ Clan from Nam Hòa Commune of Yên Hưng District volunteered to reclaim virgin land at the new economic zone in the marshland south of Uông Bí town.
The elderly recalled their hardships during family reunions: lack of electricity, clean water, and even schools. But they worked hard, and 35 years later, bonded together to make what is today's Đỗ Clan of Phú Thanh Tây. A large and robust clan, the Đỗ built their own clan's communal house in 1998. Today's clan chief is Đỗ Văn Khiêm, 73.
They focus on training and educating the young generation and the Đỗ elderly, and lead by example. They lived by the rule of law, actively participated in community activities and bonded together in raising their youth. Young students with academic achievements or talent in any field would be encouraged, awarded or contemplated to share their knowledge.
They built a common fund where members donate, and children with difficulties receive assistance. A modest sum of VNĐ50,000 (US$2.5) per person is a standard donation for a year, but the encouragement it brings to the young can be incomparable.
The fund grew over the years and currently has more than VNĐ50 million ($2,200), which can help more children pursue knowledge.
|fAWARDED: The Yên Thanh Commune congress acknowledges support from the city and district education officials. Photo courtesy of uongbi. gov.vn
A solemn yet joyful ceremony is held at the clan's communal house every year, where even the most minor achievement can be lauded and awarded. Categories encourage young students, poor students who work hard, families with outstanding achievements, and first-year college students, etc.
The elderly tell tales of continuous learning, emphasising their humble beginning and where they are today. Without needing to preach much, they show what they have done and embrace the young's efforts.
Đỗ văn Hạt, 70, chief of the Clan's Education Board, said: "Our clan's education committee over the years has spread the need for education and talent among our clan. We aim at building a learning society, where accomplishments are lauded promptly, and struggles for assistance are met on time."
Every spring, a large reunion is convened, where the clan kickstarts the signature movement: learning for life and doing good deeds. VNS