An English teaching project for students in the backward Meo Vac District of the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang will continue for another school year with the help of Hanoi-based teachers.
|English class for 3rd-grade students in Meo Vac District. Photo: The Hanoi Times|
The project, led by Marie Curie School Principal Nguyen Xuan Khang, will continue to help local students in the mountainous district learn English.
"The program has proven its effectiveness and will be extended for another academic year to include third and fourth graders," the principal said.
The number of classes will increase by one to 77," he added.
The project was launched just before the 2022-2023 school year. There were a total of 2,600 third graders divided into 76 classes and 25 English teachers in the district, but only one English teacher qualified to teach at the elementary level.
According to the 2018 General Education Program, English is a required subject for third grade and above. All third graders have four English lessons per week.
However, there is a shortage of elementary English teachers in many mountainous areas, including Meo Vac District.
Concerned about the quality of elementary English education, Bui Van Thu, director of the Meo Vac District Education and Training Office, asked Marie Curie School for help in the 2022-2023 school year.
"It was an interesting but challenging idea because, at that time, we were already preparing for the new school year," recalls Principal Khang. "It was only two weeks before the start of the year."
Khang worried that the program's quality would be compromised, as the team had to run an official educational program for an entire mountainous district, not just an after-school activity.
But the passion and love of an experienced teacher made Principal Khang agree to the proposal. It was decided that a group of teachers would teach English three times a week on behalf of Marie Curie School, and Meo Vac District would provide a secondary school English teacher to assist them.
The team consisted of 25 teachers. Three teachers took over the administrative work and 22 others were directly involved in classroom activities.
All preparations were rushed between September 9 and 12, when the program began in all 76 third grade classes in Meo Vac District.
The Ministry of Education and Training's Department of Primary Education appreciated the program when its officials visited Meo Vac District and inspected an online class, Principal Khang said.
"The department director, Thai Van Tai, texted me that the class was 'interesting and effective'. That motivated me to carry on the program during the academic year," he said at a recent meeting of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training.
By the end of the school year, all 2,600 third-graders in the district had completed the program, as expected. Four of them even participated in the district-level English competition.
Khang said the program had inspired all teachers and principals in local primary schools in Meo Vac District to join the classes.
The program was an inspiration to the teachers, who were willing to dedicate their time to the mountainous students.
|An online English class from the program. Photo: The Hanoi Times|
It was estimated that the program would cost about VND1.5 billion (US$63,000) to pay teachers and equip schools.
On behalf of Marie Curie School, Principal Khang called for the joint efforts of all Hanoi-based teachers, not just his staff.
"Many overseas Vietnamese were interested in the job and willing to volunteer," he said.
However, the program wanted the teachers to be based in Hanoi, and they would receive their payment so that they would be held accountable for the job, Khang said.
Hong Nhung, who teaches students at Khau Vai Primary School from Hanoi, said the students were excited because it was their first time learning English.
So she spent a lot of time giving specific instructions and slowing down the pace so the students could catch up with the lesson.
It was a difficult task, said teacher Huyen Mai as she took charge of a class at Lung Pu Primary School. She had prepared the lessons with books and supporting software a week before the program began.
"Pictures, photos and stories helped a lot," she said. "They were able to understand simple words and sentences better."
"There was no distance between our students and the teachers in Hanoi," said Cao Duy Chuong, a teacher in Meo Vac District.
Nguyen Thanh Son, principal of Thuong Phung Primary School, said the lessons were a lot of fun and an opportunity for local teachers to learn from their Hanoi counterparts.