by Cong Binh and Ha Nguyen
Summer vacation brings joy to children but much worries to their parents, particularly those in urban areas because they do not have the time to take care and help their children to revise a lesson.
Many other parents are worried that their children do not have a good means for a healthy entertainment, such as an attractive film or an art programme, instead of playing games on computer, iPhone or iPad and watching imported violent or terror films, said educationist Nguyen Binh Quan.
Quan noted that parents are also pondering on how to have a useful summer vacation for their children at an affordable price, such as Army Term, which has helped their children to train with strict discipline as an armyman.
But what many children enjoy is to go abroad for the summer vacation at a price of several thousand US dollars with the aim of improving their English.
Responding to Quan's comment, Nguyen Thi Lua, who is the mother of a 12-year-old boy, said that last year she paid $2,400 for her son's 2-week study tour to Singapore to improve his English.
"I see that my son's English has not improved much, but what he has learnt well is to ask me to buy him KFC and to rent or buy CDs of violent games and films, or watch TV at home all day long," added Lua.
She said this year she had asked her son to join a painting or badminton club at an affordable price, but her son has told that he does not like these.
"We encourage him to read by bringing home many interesting books including strip cartoons, but it seems he is not attracted to these books," she noted, adding that she was at a loss to think whether her son will do anything useful this summer.
Asked about his plan, Lua's son Bui Anh Tuan answered that he wanted to go on a trip to the United Kingdom as his friends have.
"I have made an appointment with my friends that we will all meet there so that we may have a chance to meet our favourite Chelsea football team players, such as John Terry, and collect their belongings," added Tuan.
He stated that he has been a fan of Chelsea since he was 6. "My dream will not become true if my mother refuses the trip, saying she was facing money shortage."
Unlike Tuan and many other Vietnamese children, their peers in foreign countries such as Japan, Canada and the United States have volunteered to go to Viet Nam to experience local cultures and improve their knowledge.
For example, Lee Tae-young, 17, from South Korea, stated that she had volunteered to teach physics in a secondary school in the northern province of Bac Ninh by staying at a local household in order to gather experience before enrolling at a university.
"I am interested in exchanging views with my students to improve my Vietnamese while teaching physics. But the most interesting part is that I will help my house owner Tran Thi Hanh, 60, in raising pigs, growing vegetables and harvesting rice during the day and learning to sing quan ho until late at night," said Lee.
She said that her love for Viet Nam was because of the country's cultural value. "I now understand why quan ho folk songs has been recognised as UNESCO's intangible heritage of humankind and needs to be preserved and developed."
Lee's house owner Hanh said that she was happy to teach Lee traditional folk music, but she also felt sad because almost all her children, nephews and nieces did not like to learn it.
Quan noted that he was worried that many Vietnamese ignore their very culture.
For example, the country has invested hundreds of billions of dong to build museums and theatres, but many of these do not receive much visitors. Publishing houses have printed millions of books, but a Vietnamese person (including children) reads only 0.8 book a year, according to latest figures from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
"I was interested in the Army Term, which was started in 2000. The Army Term seems to be running good among many children during summer, particularly after they complete the Army Term: They learn to follow family and school rules such as folding bedding and clothes, helping parents with their chores and never coming late to school as they had done earlier."
"We should organise more terms such as art term and heritage term for our children to improve their knowledge and experiences," added Quan.
We hope that Quan's suggestions come true so that children including my 16-year-old son could join. — VNS