Children from Kon Teo Village, Dac Pxi Commune, Dac Ha District, in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum can now attend school regularly thanks to the Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children (PEDC) programme.
The small schools in Kon Teo used to be falling-down cottages, but now there are four brick rooms equipped with modern facilities and study aids.
"The program started in Dac Ha in 2006 and has made a remarkable difference in the district’s educational system," Ho Quang Liem, principal of the Dac Pxi primary school said.
Before, children often didn’t go to school if it rained. Now, they are eager to come to class at the new school.
"The classroom is cooled with fans. I can also learn to sing with the piano and draw with coloured pens," A Danh, a pupil in third grade said.
PEDC has not only developed the school’s infrastructure, but has also helped improve the quality of the education through training courses for teachers.
"I have much more knowledge about teaching now," Minh, one of the teachers said.
After training, Minh applied her new skills in her classes. For example, she encourages pupils to express their views confidently in front of class. This method encourages students to participate and become more active learners.
"Teaching with the new methods is more difficult for the teachers but pupils learn better," Minh added.
The PEDC’s managing board has also offered classes for teachers on community integration and educating disabled children.
Before, the children in Kon Teo Village had to learn in two cottages built by teachers, pupils and their parents in the region.
"In the rainy season, teachers and pupils had to move to villagers’ homes. Sometime pupils had to travel 20km to class then had to go home due to rain," Nguyen Thi Thanh Lan, a teacher in the village said.
The neighbouring village’s children came to Kon Teo to learn but the infrastructure was so bad that most of children discontinued their studies.
"Dac Pxi is one of the most remote communes in Dac Ha District so there are lots of small schools. And the main school still lacks equipment," Principal Liem said.
The PEDC program is co-financed by the Government of Viet Nam and five donors. The programme was started in 2004 in eight communes in Kon Tum where 94 primary schools were set up with 327 different small schools. Forty per cent of them have benefited from PEDC capital.
PEDC aims to improve the infrastructure including school buildings and study equipment.
PEDC has so far invested VND31 billion in building 89 small schools with adequate equipment, access for disabled children, a teachers’ room, fresh water supply system, and toilets.
In 2005, about 24 classrooms, eight offices for teachers, and eight water supply systems were set up with a total capital of VND3.4 billion in Dac Tu and Tu Mo Rong districts.
"The project has contributed to helping Kon Tum to eliminate the gap among areas in the region and has dramatically improved the quality of the education," Nguyen Sy Thu, director of Education and Training Department of the region said.
Vietnamnews - (16/06/2006)