With the belief that education is the best way to change lives and broaden children’s futures, Apollo English came to Tram Tau, Yen Bai on a beautiful autumn day. Though Yen Bai sounds close to Hanoi, these remote areas are difficult to travel to and the journey was long. The winding road led Apollo teachers and staff to Mu Village where they were able to teach the students English and computer skills. Learning about the students’ peaceful yet tough life was a moving experience for all involved.
Education is a luxury!
In this foggy Vietnamese village, almost 100% of the population belong to the Hmong ethnic minority and up to 80% are from low-income households. Their way of life is centered around self-sufficiency, particularly by growing rice and maize using traditional methods.
“Each season, a family can only harvest around 5 bags of rice, which is barely enough to feed them, let alone to fund their education. Some families may have a buffalo and this can bring with it extra benefits. However, aside from farming, they do not have permanent employment or a steady income. As the area is remote and deliveries to the area are sparse, any consumable daily supplies are treasured and highly appreciated by families living here.” - Mr Chi Anh, Vice Principal of Ban Mu Primary School
Perhaps because of their hardships, the children here know how to care for and support their parents early in life. They are extremely independent, well behaved and supportive with chores around the house. It’s not easy to make ends meet so education is considered an unnecessary luxury by parents even when the government covers tuition costs. Few pupils here have completed the fifth and ninth grades. Only around 40% of male students completed their high school education, and fewer than 20% of female students accomplished the same.
We show love to students as if they were our own children so that they want to come to school…
Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Sen, principal of Ban Mu Primary School, still says that the teachers at the school are from other provinces and not originally from the area. She was raised in Thai Binh and her whole youth has been spent with Hmong families since she graduated. The teachers care so much for the students that they visit each home to persuade their parents of the value of literacy and knowledge. Many teachers are ready to walk from dawn to sunset to visit the families’ houses in the hopes that their students will not drop out. When students are sick or the families need help, the teachers are eager to share, guide, and even support financially, as if they were family members, in the hope that the children would not abandon their education.
As time goes on, the teachers’ devotion throughout the years has made the Hmong families realize that the only way to achieve a better future is through education. The parents appreciate the teachers who love their children as if they were their own daughters and sons. Currently, it is an impressive accomplishment that the percentage of dropout students has fallen zero. The children are even funded to stay at the boarding school for the whole week under the care and supervision of the teachers.
Education is the only way to change the future
After first hand experiences and seeing the students’ eagerness to learn, Apollo English are even firmer than ever that education is the only way to open avenues in children’s future.
Apollo had such a wonderful day when seeing how the donations could create a beneficial learning environment for the students. At Khau Ly school, teachers, students and representatives from Apollo English oversaw the grand opening of the new computer lab, co-sponsored by Apollo and BeCause for Hope.
Afterwards, Apollo English teachers led language lessons and taught students basic computer skills in the new lab. The students were shy at first, but gradually became more confident, opened up and were having a lot of fun by the end of the lessons. It was extremely motivating and moving for our teachers and staff to see the power of education first hand, and the impact of it even in a short space of time.
Touched by this, Mr. Lewis Readman - Senior Learning Experience Manager of Apollo English shared: “Our trip to Yen Bai was an incredible experience. It was amazing to see the children's passion for learning and seeing their smiles in the classroom was heartwarming. It was a very powerful moment for the teachers and I, as we were able to see the true value of education. We hope that our co-sponsored computer lab and new access to digital learning will help enrich their lives and open up more opportunities for them to have a better future.”