Ethnic minority children in Vietnam study beneath stilt house

Ice cold winter chills are just some of the many hardships these youngsters overcome to get an education

Ethnic minority students donning coats learn in a temporary ‘room’ under a stilt house in a village bordering Laos in Thanh Hoa Province, north-central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Forty students from the ethnic minority community in a north-central Vietnamese province have spent three months using the space under the stilt house of a local villager as their schoolhouse.

Kindergarten- and elementary-age students in the border community of Bat Mot, Thuong Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Province, which borders Laos, have taken classes in the makeshift school while awaiting financial support from the provincial government and local philanthropists.

Torrential rains and flooding in October last year damaged all four classrooms in the local school, forcing the students to learn in an environment surrounded by crudely formed walls made of plastic sheeting.

The original school, shared by preschoolers and elementary-schoolers alike, was constructed by the government so local students could avoid the six-mile trek to the center of Bat Mot, where other schools are located, according to Lang Van Thuy, vice-principal of the kindergarten in the commune.

The school and local People’s Committee have repeatedly submitted proposals for a new facility to the Thuong Xuan People’s Committee, but authorities have yet to approve, citing extreme budget constraints.

Thuy says freezing winter drafts cause the children to shiver throughout their lessons.

The students stay at home for safety when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.

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