Two state-run schools in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region are opening the doors of creativity for young adults through a hands-on curriculum focused on opportunities for technical design, the arts, and agriculture.
Thoi Lai Town Middle School in Can Tho, a business hub in the Mekong Delta, has created a dedicated space for students to play musical instruments, draw, play chess, participate in academic clubs, and showcase their own creative inventions.
Pham Kim Ngan, a teacher at the middle school, said the children plan to design drones, machines to help with garbage collection and robots to sweep classroom floors.
“Although their designs weren’t feasible, we’re happy to help develop their interests in creating new things and developing their inquiring minds,” Ngan said.
“The program is also a good way keep them away from harmful things in society.”
She said students with artistic and creative abilities use the ‘creative park’ as a place to develop their talents.
“My parents scolded me for things like dismantling the electric fan and iron in our house and trying but failing to put them back together. Now I’m really happy to have a place to learn freely by myself,” said eighth-grader Nguyen Minh Hoang.
Trung An High School, also in Can Tho, is following a similar model, zoning off a section of the schoolyard for growing cabbage, radish, and cauliflower.
The school offers seeds, pots, and a watering system for the students, but they must find fertilizer and soil themselves.
As an incentive for the students, the school offers awards based on the success of the gardeners’ crops.
“Both teachers and students were excited. The students felt as if they were carrying out a great task. The teachers and students now have a relationship as well,” said Le Van Dung, the school’s principal.
Positive feedback on the program has spread beyond school grounds.
Many students said their parents were surprised to hear their children were able to grow vegetables.
Tran Ngoc Thien Chau, an eleventh grader at Trung An High School, said she now feels confident in her ability to grow vegetables.
A local education official said participation in the activities at the two schools requires little time from students but has great benefits in exposing them to everyday jobs and developing their creativity and interpersonal skills.
More schools in Can Tho are expected to develop similar programs, another official said.