Last update 8/6/2011 8:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

What educational policy for the Mekong Delta

VietNamNet Bridge – Some said that the Mekong Delta is the “depression” of Vietnam’s education and the local people are not eager for studies. However, a senior journalist in this region did not agree and claimed that the region only lacks the state’s attention.

The Mekong Delta cries for help

The Mekong Delta’s deadly foibles 

Lying on a field of gold, the Mekong Delta still poor
When farmers desert their villages

Mekong Delta and land problem

Selling house to support studies

The senior journalist told VietNamNet a story. At a government meeting in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, which focused on transport and education, after some attendants complained that it was very difficult to improve the delta’s education because its common academic standard was low, Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet told a story:

Once he made a field-trip by small boat in a canal in the Mekong Delta. The boat ran very slow, so it took his time. The boat driver, a young man, knew that Mr. Kiet was not pleased. He said that he would research to improve the speed of the boat. The PM thought that the boy told lie because he did not know about machinery. But the next field-trip, the PM still used that boat but this time its speed doubled. Being surprised, the PM asked the boat driver whether he changed to a new engine. The boy said no; he only fixed the screw. Through this story, PM Kiet wanted to prove that the Mekong Delta’s people are very intelligent.

Having been working in the Mekong Delta for years, this journalist witnessed a lot of touched stories.

A farmer family has 13 children and 12 hectares of field. Whenever a child entered university, he sold a piece of land. When the 13th child became a student, they did not have an inch of land. They moved to a boat and traveled everywhere to trade fruits.

Another family has seven children and three hectares of field. They were so poor that sometimes they thought of telling their children to quit school because they could not afford school fees. But seeing their children’s eagerness for studies, the couple decided to mortgage their field and work hard to support the kids’ studies.

Poverty hinders education

Most of farmers wish that their children can study as much as they can but they could not. Poverty has forced the Mekong Delta to live with illiteracy.

In a field trip to Hung Thach in Long An province, Nguyen Van Son from the Centre for Mekong Delta Research and Development saw kids of 10-12 years old working to earn around VND10,000 ($0.48) a day. Son asked them whether they wanted to go to school. They all answered yes, but their parents could pay school fees for their younger brother or sister only.

This is very popular for many families in 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta.

According to Son, school fees are very small to urban dwellers but for farmers who earn less than $1 a day, it is big. People in the Mekong Delta spend around VND130,000-150,000 ($6-7)/person/year on average. Many kids enter primary school at the age of 8 or nine. If the crops loss, many children will have to quit school.

A survey shows that 45.1 percent of rural people at the age of 15 upwards do not finish any school; 32.87 percent graduate from primary schools; 13.51 percent have junior secondary school diploma; and 5.43 percent graduate from high schools.

This is a big hindrance for the Mekong Delta to escape from poverty, because local people are restricted in having access to progress in the society and opportunity to get rich.

Political determination needed

Nguyen Van Son, from the Center for Mekong Delta Research and Development, said that the decline of education in the Mekong Delta is not only because parents do not have money to pay school fees for their children, but also the lack of attention from the state.

A local official complained at a national workshop that the state-funded projects only focused on building classrooms, not schools. This way of investment cannot help improve education but it is the waste of state capital.

To raise education in the Mekong Delta, it is not only important that how many new classrooms are built or how many computers are equipped for schools annually, but how will students use them if they cannot go to school.

It is an urgent task to promote education in this region but the Mekong Delta alone cannot do that job.

Thu Ha