Night school for Mong adults in Yen Bai Province
  • | LD, | September 18, 2014 08:55 AM

Special night classes for adults from the Mong ethnic minority group are being held in Yen Bai Province in order to increase the literacy rate there.

La Pan Tan, a commune in the mountainous district of Mu Cang Chai, was selected as the focal point for the initiative. Attendees of the classes so far have ranged widely in age, and include both men and women.

This is a poor commune where all population are Mong ethnic minority people. Nearly 80% out of total 685 households there are below or just scraping above the poverty line. Illiterate people aged 15 to 60 account for one fifth of the population in the commune.

Huyen, the teacher responsible for the classes, also teaches at La Tan Pan Primary School. Every night she cycles alone across rocky terrain and mountainous paths to teach the class, regardless of weather.

She starts the class at 8:30pm, but often has to wait for students who come late, so sometimes does not start until 9pm. The class usually runs until about midnight.


Students attend night class in Trong Tong Village

Ly A Seng, a 40-year-old student, said, “After just a few days attending the class I'm happy to be able to write my name."

Men in La Pan Tan are normally busy earning a living and getting married in their younger years, while the average marrying age for girls is 13 or 14, leaving them with responsibilities that preclude the option of going to school. Many of the adults in the class have never even held a pen.


Hands familiar with hard work

Hang A Cho, 43, said, “I decided to attend these classes because I feel ashamed in front of my children who can read and write well."

Giang Chu Ly, the communal Party Secretary, said, “We’ve given top priority to illiteracy eradication. We’re aware that this is a long-term process that will require great effort and patience.”

According to Ly, many Mong people quickly forget what they learn in school because Vietnamese is not their first language. When official documents need to be signed, many just press an inked finger on the signature line.


Oldest student at the class

In 2013, five of these classes were organised for a total of 159 people aged between 15 and 50. Those who finish are provided with a certificate.

This year two more classes were added in Trong Tong and Trong Pao Sang villages, attracting 60 students. In order to increase attendance, the maximum age was increased to 60.

“Usually around 20 students show up for each class. Sometimes there are only a few. It takes months to read and write. Those who can read and write would be taught about simple maths as well," said Huyen.

She added that she is very happy to see progress.

Leave your comment on this story