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68 children in central Vietnam ditch textbooks for soft skills

68 children in central Vietnam ditch textbooks for soft skills

Thursday, December 21, 2023, 17:29 GMT+7
68 children in central Vietnam ditch textbooks for soft skills
Students have fun at the Thuan An Nhien Center in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam instead of going to school. Photo: B.D. / Tuoi Tre

Each day, 68 children visit a private center in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam to learn soft skills, many of whom do so in lieu of a formal education.

In Vietnam, children are legally required to begin going to school at the age of five, but 40 of the 68 children who attend soft skills classes at the center each day are not enrolled in a traditional school. 

Rather, their education comes entirely from classes at the Thuan An Nhien Center, which they affectionately call 'home' instead of 'school' in order to alleviate some of the pressure associated with conventional education.

According to Le Minh Hung, a representative of the center, the parents of the 68 children all hail from different provinces. 

Many of these parents, he said, relocated from large cities to Quang Nam’s Triem Tay Village in 2018 to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Their parents are all well-educated. They are architects, artists, and entrepreneurs, Hung explained.

The entrance of the Thuan An Nhien Center. Photo: B.D. / Tuoi Tre

The entrance of the Thuan An Nhien Center in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam. Photo: B.D. / Tuoi Tre

In Triem Tay, they built a playground where their children could learn and play together. The group later sought an establishment license and named itself Thuan An Nhien. 

It is still in the application process for an operation license, according to Hung.

Nowadays, the children at Thuan An Nhien spend their time practicing soft skills with teachers who are qualified to teach music, fine arts, and handicrafts.

At night, they study traditional academic subjects with their parents, with tutors, or in online classes.

According to Hung, the children at Thuan An Nhien fit into three general categories.

The first category includes children whose parents plan to eventually send them abroad to study at schools that do night require academic reports from a formal education institution in Vietnam.

The second consists of children whose parents expect them to inherit their families’ business and thus see no need for them to engage in a traditional education.

The final includes kids whose parents have no specific plan for their children and merely wish for them to learn basic skills and have fun.

What all of these parents have in common is that they are aware that homeschoolling is not allowed in Vietnam, but they prefer their children to experience a pressure-free childhood.

Students and employees during a break at the Thuan An Nhien Center. Photo: B.D. / Tuoi Tre

Students and employees during a break at the Thuan An Nhien Center in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam. Photo: B.D. / Tuoi Tre

Thuan An Nhien charges each child VND2.5 million (US$103) per month.

The entirety of the fee goes toward operating costs, Hung said, adding that the center is owned by all of the parents.

Regarding a plan by the Quang Nam administration to put all out-of-school children in school, Hung said the parents have knowledge and want to coordinate with the government in order to ensure that their kids can study in happiness.

“No on loves the children more than their parents," Hung said.

“We hope there will be amendments in the future to open up a new way for children to study happily, in the true sense of the word.”

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Thanh Ha - Thai Ba Dung / Tuoi Tre News

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