a new primary school
With the help of Global Community Service Foundation, Global Playground’s new partner in Vietnam, a new school has been built in the Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri province of Central Vietnam.
Global Community Service Foundation is an NGO incorporated in both the United States and Vietnam that “works to eradicate poverty in Southeast Asia by implementing sustainable, community-based programs that focus on improving access to health care, education, and income-generation activities.”
The Pa Nho school is located just outside of the Khe Sang town, about two hours away from the former imperial central Vietnamese city of Hue and nestled in the mountains between neighboring Laos and the Gulf of Tonkin.
An estimated $46,368 was required to to build the school. The local community contributed land and materials to the project. Construction of the Pa Nho school was completed in September 2012. Its three classrooms, teacher's room, toilet, and 72 desks and chairs serve between 150-200 first through eighth graders and eight teachers.
The ethnic minority Pako and Van Kieu children in Khe Sanh who will benefit from the new school currently study in two separate shifts each day in a flood-prone school on the edge of an erosive riverbank with cracked walls and broken chairs and tables. Every year at least one major flash flood damages homes in the area and prevents students from attending classes because the school is inaccessible. Additionally, flooding poses major health risks through the contamination of water supplies and the spread of water-borne diseases. The new school is built on higher ground and provides a safe and suitable learning environment for the children of Khe Sanh.
the state of education
Although Vietnam boasts primary enrollment and literacy rates above 90% for both boys and girls, the ethnic minorities that predominantly live in more isolated mountainous areas do not share these same educational successes. Lack of access to schools and quality education, coupled with poverty that can tempt parents to keep children home to help generate income instead of allowing them to attend school, has resulted in achievement gaps between the Vietnamese and ethnic minorities.
The Pako and Van Kieu ethnic groups in the area deal with four distinct challenges: (1) the annual floods that destroy houses and force closure of the school; (2) poverty, as many families live on $15 a month; (3) unexploded landmines from the Vietnam War that continue to maimand kill villagers plowing fields or children at play; and (4) the remnants of Agent Orange which have resulted in a whole host of health problems.
The new primary school in Khe Sanh – a famous area known for its battleground during the Vietnam War – will help reduce these challenges. Building on higher ground will help prevent flooding and reduce the associated health risks. The new school will provide education to help reverse the local cycle of poverty, provide safe places to learn and play, and add to Global Playground’s worldwide network of schools where onsite Teaching Fellows will continue to facilitate global cross-cultural dialogue.
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