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Children cross borders, rivers to get an education

Written By vibykhmer on Friday, September 18, 2009 | 1:26 AM

Vietnamese children living in Cambodia cross a river to return home from school.

Nguyen Thi Diem has to row a boat across Cambodia border twice a day to get her children to school and and back.

Many Vietnamese families moved to Koh Thum District in Kandal Province of the neighboring country many years ago as they found it easier to subsist on fishing and farming there.

However, the children do not know the local language, so more than 500 of them travel back to Vietnam every day, crossing many rivers to attend classes in An Giang Province.

Diem said she feels weary and sad and every time she sees such scenes.

Diep Hoang Nang, an eighth-grader at the Khanh An Junior High in An Giang, said there’s a school near his house in Cambodia but it only teaches subjects in the Khmer language.

Nguyen Van Tien, whose children also cross the border to school every day, said “The children only need to learn to read and write. That would be an achievement already.”

Many children do quit school right after learning to read and write to help their parents make a living, said Hinh Quoc Khinh, president of the B Primary School in An Giang.

But some children have left entered college and done well, Nang said, adding they are the examples for others to follow. From them, “we learn to escape poverty.”

By sending her daughter to school back home, Huynh Thi My Huong only hoped to get her literate, but Le My Duyen has performed so well that her parents have agreed to keep her on.

The ninth-grader at Khanh Ha Junior High said she would try to win admission to college.

Le Van Tam, vice president of the school, said half of the students getting good grades are the Vietnamese children living in Cambodia.

Tam said poverty and the traveling problems have made many children quit school, but “once they’ve managed to overcome the problems, they study very hard.”

Local authorities in Khanh An Province have arranged with pier operators on both sides to carry the children for free.

Yet Tam expressed concern that the journeys on boat are not very safe for the children.

Reported by Tien Trinh


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