What’s the point of leaving school early?

VIE33-girl and boy working.JPGThe author Ngoc Hue is 16 years old and a member of the Young Journalist Club at the Children’s Culture House in Ben Tre province.

It is said that children are young plants that need to be taken care of, brought up and educated by parents, teachers and all community members. Our duty is just to study hard and obey our parents and teachers so that when we grow up, we can advance Vietnam’s position in the world. However, some pupils in my region have dropped out of school, a matter of serious concern to their parents and others.

Because they don’t realise the importance of education, they study less and less. Consequently, they have to leave school and go out into the ‘real world’. But what do they think that they can do? Contrary to what most of them think - that it is easy to earn a lot of money in the city - when they come to a strange place without knowing anybody, how can they find a job, how can they protect themselves from temptation, and what about other social issues that they may face?

“I will never do it again,” said T, a child in Ba Tri. “I had to work hard without any breaks, just work and work even when I got sick… Sometimes I burst into tears as I missed home and my school.” His mother was very surprised to see him back home, looking not very healthy, and did not know why he suddenly studied hard and always followed his family’s advice. This terrible trip made T recognise that to study and live loved by your parents, with your friends’ help and under the guidance of teachers, is far better than being hired to do hard labour in the city. Plus, because they leave school early, they don’t have the knowledge they’ll need for their adult life and will easily get into trouble and lack confidence. As a result, their lives will be unstable.

Another example is D, a self-motivated pupil in my class. Due to bad influences, D played truant and stole money from her family. She even disappeared for days, worrying her parents and teachers. Is it right for her to play truant? Certainly not. As children, our most important duty is to study hard for the sake of our future and that of our country.

The national campaign to follow the moral model of President Ho Chi Minh*, in which a pupil’s main duty is non-stop study, is now being launched. Leaving school early to work is completely wrong. Solid study today will be a good foundation for future success because having a good education will bring us stable, well-paid jobs.

* Annually, pupils, students, staff in government agencies, members of community Communist Party cells, the Women’s Union and the Youth Union are encouraged to join a campaign named ‘learning from President Ho Chi Minh’. Individuals make a personal action plan or commitment. By the end of the year, they prepare a review, either oral or written, saying what they have achieved.

KEY FACTS – DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL IN VIETNAM

  • Although there has been rapid economic growth and huge investment in education, many children in Vietnam have to balance study with work and household responsibilities, both in rural and urban environments.
  • Vietnamese law prohibits the employment of children under 15 years of age although about 16 per cent of children aged 5-14 are employed in some kind of work.

Sources: Save the Children web page (2010): ‘Vietnam-Key Issues-Child Abuse and Exploitation-Child Labour’; UNICEF web page (2010): ‘Vietnam Statistics’.

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