Teacher goes way out of his way to get a student back

March 19, 2017 - 09:00

The teacher found his absence “heart-wrenching.”  He knew that absence from the classroom now could lead to an absence of decent livelihood opportunities.

Worth it: Dậu (third, left) has been working as a high school teacher for almost 10 years now, and has lost none of his enthusiasm and dedication.
Viet Nam News

 The story of a 36-year-old teacher who always goes the extra mile for his students has inspired netizens to lend a helping hand. Hồng Vân reports

Ninh Văn Dậu was on a mission.

On March 7, accompanied by a student, the 36-year-old teacher, drove his bike across more than 20 kilometres of bumpy forest road in Gia Lai Province to find a ‘missing’ 12th grade student.

But Ksor Gôl had not been abducted. He had dropped out of school because of financial problems.

The teacher found his absence “heart-wrenching.”  He knew that absence from the classroom now could lead to an absence of decent livelihood opportunities.

A few days earlier, Dậu posted on his Facebook page a plea for the boy to return.

“The class and I are waiting for you [to come back]. If you do not, I will come to your maize field to get you back.”

When the student failed to show up after a few days, Dậu set out to the milpa where Gôl and his family worked on a farm.

Gôl’s poor family wanted him to work, and the distance between the school and the workplace was very long. He quit.

“I was tired, Tức [the student accompanying Dậu] was also tired. Yet all that vanished when I saw Gôl’s dark face stained with dirt. It reminded me of my tough childhood.

“As I talked to him, I forgot the rough road that we’d taken. He sat with me all day, but said nothing except, ‘I’ve quit’," Dậu wrote.

“But I could see in his smart eyes and talk that he did aspire to study further.”

Dậu’s sharing of the story on the Internet helped. Many people called the Đinh Tiên Hoàng High School and offered financial support for Gôl.

On the afternoon of March 8, school principal Trần Văn Thế and teacher Dậu successfully got Gôl back to school.

Thế said this was not the first case that Dậu had helped. He had visited students’ homes many times, talking, sharing and persuading parents to encourage their children to return to school.

Dậu also contacted some newspaper agencies directly to ask for scholarships for students wanting to pursue higher studies in university.

Adopting students

Since 2009, Dậu had also adopted four students, all of them in very difficult circumstances. One lost both his parents, another had his father too sick to work and fund the studies of the children.

With his limited income, Dậu cannot give much financial support, but he gives the students a lot of moral support, encouraging them to be brave and overcome all difficulties.

One of the students graduated from college and found work as a commune official, another has graduated from Đà Lạt University with a degree in mathematics, and yet another is second year student of Nha Trang University.

Teacher Dậu is a native of Yên Mô District in the northern province of Ninh Bình. He was born into a poor family with three other siblings. After graduating from the Quy Nhơn University in 2005, Dậu volunteered to teach in Gia Lai province. He has been working as a high school teacher for almost 10 years now, and has lost none of his enthusiasm and dedication.

“I love literature, because I have a romantic soul. I was a young passionate and enthusiastic youth when I was a fresh graduate; so I decided to move to this land, to experience what I have learned from literary works at school, disregarding my family’s disapproval,” said Dậu.

"Yet initially, I could not help feeling disappointed with the poor conditions here. Things were incredibly hard at first, but the longer I stayed, the closer relationship between me and my students and local residents became. 

"I just don’t want to live apart from this place as their life is so tough. If I leave, who will stay to help them? This question has pushed and motivated me to work and live here," said Dậu. 

Most of the people living in Krông Pa District where Dậu works, belong to the Jarai ethnic minority. They’ve had to survive on just cassava for a long time, according to Dậu. 

Guardian: Ninh Văn Dậu (right) and Trần Văn Thế (central), principal of Đinh Tiên Hoàng High School came to the milpa where Ksor (left) was working. —Photos courtesy of Ninh Văn Dậu

"Things are tough. I was born in a rural village so I understand their difficult life. The students that live in remote areas find it hard to travel to school, and it is difficult to stay motivated," he said. 

"The 10th graders in the school are mostly poor performers. Poor living conditions, high child marriage rates and the fact that many students are  main labourers earning money for the family are the major reasons for the high dropout rates here.

“Being a teacher who has worked in mountainous areas for years and especially working as a head teacher, it breaks my heart whenever I saw a student absent from the class."

Four years ago, another poor student named Lép also thought of quitting school, and finally got back with Dậu’s support. Lép graduated from college and is now working as a teacher in Krông Pa District.

“What I have done is not a big deal. It may be due to the fact that, on the social network, non-educational stories are spread so often that when they know about my stories, they are moved. Yet I am not the only teacher to do this, all the teachers do it when a student quits school," said Dậu.

Phùng Xuân Nhạ, minister of Education and Training, has sent a letter praising Dậu’s beautiful deed, where the teacher did not bother about the hardship involved in getting his student back.

"It is a deed worth of high respect and not one that many can do," Nhạ wrote.

“I highly value your beautiful and compassionate deed."

He wrote further that Dậu’s actions will definitely “spread in the education field and the community” and “be an inspiration, creating trust among students and teachers nationwide." —VNS