As many schools across Vietnam have moved classes online owing to the novel coronavirus disease (COVD-19) pandemic, two high school students in the north-central province of Quang Tri have been attending remote lessons from a makeshift tent erected by their parents on top of a hill, taking advantage of the high altitude to catch cellular signals otherwise unavailable at their homes.
Students in Vietnam have enjoyed a months-long break since early February as schools in the nation are closed as a COVID-19 precaution.
Twelve graders Ho Thi Tam and Ho Thi Suong, members of the Van Kieu ethnic group in Quang Tri, are among students at local Dakrong High School who have resumed school through online classes for nearly a week.
However, unlike other students who can seamlessly adapt to the new learning environment thanks to an Internet connection at home, Tam and Suong from Khe Ngai Village found themselves at a disadvantage with no cellular signal accessible from their houses.
Le Chi Thong, the school’s principal, said some teachers have noticed the two students having an unusual background while monitoring their screen during remote lessons.
Rather than being inside of a house, they were found sitting under the shade of a makeshift tent erected on top of a hill by their parents.
The tent is made simply out of bamboo trees and a plastic canvas on top.
|Ho Thi Suong (left) and Ho Thi Tam are seen sitting in a makeshift tent on top of a hill in Khe Ngai Village in the north-central province of Quang Tri, Vietnam for their online classes. Photo: H.S. /Tuoi Tre|
Talking about their special “classroom,” Suong said she and her friend had tried “running around” their houses trying to get access to the Internet with 4G SIM cards, but their smartphones failed to connect as their village nestled in the middle of a ravine where cellular coverage was unavailable.
However, necessity is the mother of invention. The high school friends eventually came up with the idea of climbing up a hill where they could have cellular signals for data.
The young girls’ passion for studying moved their parents so much that they later decided to build the hilltop tent to provide the girls with cover from the scorching sun.
Their “desks” were two metal storage trunks fetched from their houses.
|Ho Thi Suong (right) and Ho Thi Tam are seen sitting in a makeshift tent on top of a hill in Khe Ngai Village in the north-central province of Quang Tri, Vietnam for their online classes. Photo: H.S. /Tuoi Tre|
However, it was not the end of their challenges, as the data-demanding video calls needed for their remote lessons quickly drained their mobile balances.
The girls refused to give up. They decided to skip school for one day and went to work as for-hire farmers to earn enough money to top up their SIM cards.
As people from the Van Kieu community in their locality don’t pay much attention to school, partly because of their poverty, local students with such resolve to pursue studies like Tam and Suong are not common to see.
“We were deeply touched seeing our students sitting in a tent and studying so hard,” principal Thong expressed.