We were invited to visit an elementary school where there are three classrooms. Several grades share on room. The teachers are patient and very nice. They told me they respect the tribal people's unhurried way and it worked better that way.
We were invited to visit the teachers' windowless "lounge" that has two beds for the teachers to rest. They are so sweet and happy to see visitors and insisted that i must eat some yam cake, their homemade lunch. It was very good!
I wonder why Hung, from PLAN, didn't eat any. It turned out PLAN's staff was advised not to eat the villagers' food as they have so little food, not even enough for their own family. So if you take some food, someone in the family will not have any.. I didn't know, so I ate some... My bad!!!
The teachers insisted that I must come back: "Bring Uncle Philip. We will will make for yam cakes and cook more food for you!" They kept telling me as the held my hands.
All these teachers are Kinh people and have worked here more than 15 years (they look much younger than their age). They teach the children in Kinh language (Vietnamese). Almost everyone in these villages can't read or write their own languages. The teachers confirmed with my Hmong escort that there are no books or any kind of written records of anything. The tribes' history and stories are all passed down orally.
They told me the villagers wanted their children to have an education, but lots of the time, they also need the children to help out at home. There were some extra bright students who really wanted to go to school that PLAN staff and the school teachers sometimes helped pay for the food to keep these kids in school. There are very few went on to High School. But those who did, especially those who went on to college became very smart leaders in their community. Thuy was one of them!
Do you notice a fat student among the skinny ones in the group photo, second row from the top, on the right?