A familiar proverb says that it is never too late to learn. A couple in southern Vietnam has modified it and attested to the new version: It is never too old to teach.
In their seventies, Huynh Thi Lanh and her husband Huynh Van Phe, based in the southern province of Binh Duong, have been teaching poor kids for free for almost twenty years.
The couple, also known as Mr and Mrs Tu (Four), industriously prepares lesson plans every day to teach elementary school students despite their old age.
Mrs Tu said that she was a teacher between 1957 and 1977 when she had to quit teaching because of financial problems.
They managed to settle down after a while and have taught again since 1994, as they saw that too many impoverished children could not go to school then.
They used improvised facilities in the early days due to a lack of fund before the local government gave them a helping hand to put into use two properly built classrooms.
Enrollments have risen to 128 from the previous 30 but none of them, who are from poor families and thus cannot afford formal education, have to pay tuition, except for the VND15,000 (71 US cents) each chips in monthly to foot the electricity and water bills and buy more learning materials for collective use.
Mr Tu is in charge of grades 1 and 2 while his wife teaches grade 3 and 4 students. Furthermore, they will help find seats in official classes at public schools for those who want to continue studying.
Most of their students have been very successful in mainstream classes.
“Many of them have gone to college,” Mrs Tu said. “Others graduated and go to work, and they all often visit us.”
The two are determined to go on with their teaching for many more years given such good results.