Nation’s rural south studies the road ahead

VietNamNet Bridge
11 April 2015

The Mekong Delta has seen a slow but steady rise in school attendance over the last 40 years, thanks to new roads, schools and modern teaching methods. But it needs to do more to prepare for a future in which fishing and farming jobs become less prominent.

As a primary school student in 1975, Ly Hung had to walk five kilometres – often on muddy paths and over slender bamboo “monkey” bridges – to reach his school in An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta.
“It was slippery and dangerous,” he said.

Although the war had ended and the country had been reunified, many children in the Delta region could not attend school. Family hardships, poor roads and a shortage of schools had left a crumbling infrastructure.

But Hung, who is now deputy head of the educational division of An Giang’s Tri Ton District, was luckier than most. He eventually received a university degree and returned home to work.

Hung’s colleague, Kim Sen, a specialist in the division’s primary education department, was also a student during the time.

“Each district had only one primary school. Fortunately, I could walk to school. But other kids couldn’t because they lived in communes far away,” he said. “Their parents were busy earning a living, so they had no time to take them to school.”

In an area dense with rivers and canals, it was often risky to travel to school as there were few good roads. Many parents were reluctant to let their children ride in boats, so the kids often skipped school or dropped out.

Even in recent years, in the southernmost province of Ca Mau, residents in Ngoc Hien Island District have had to use boats as the island had no roads before 2013.

“It was dangerous for students to use boats in the rainy season. We were worried when they went to school,” Tran Van Ut, deputy head of the island district’s educational division, said.

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