In rural Vietnam, schools often have satellite schools – especially with the youngest grades – so young children can go to school close to their remote villages. For example, the satellite school in Thung village, where CWS supports educational development activities, is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the larger town of Lang Chanh. The road between the town and the village is in very poor condition; it is muddy and especially hard for the teachers assigned to the school to travel most of the school year.
Consequently, the three men who teach in the village decided to live at the school – even though there was no proper house for them. Their only option was a leaf-roofed hut. There was also no regular safe water supply, so the teachers carried buckets of water from a neighboring house. Compounding the situation, there wasn’t a latrine for the teachers, either.
When CWS agreed with the local government that working in Thung was a very good idea, our team was surprised to learn that three of the four teachers were men. In Vietnam, primary school teachers are mostly women, and there are almost no schools where a majority of teachers are men. But the situation in Thung was just too dangerous – and the hut too uninhabitable – for any women teachers to agree to live and work there. So, men were assigned to teach there, and they made the decision to live in the village despite the bad conditions. This decision really shocked the members of our team when we visited the village and school to learn how our funding from a private company partner, Tetra Pak, could be combined with CROP funding to help make their situation better. Of course, we knew there were immediate, basic actions we could partner with the village to take: installing a water tank and a sanitary latrine to start, and then electricity for classrooms and the teacher’s living area.
The greatest outcome of our partnership with Thung village, so far, is that students and teachers have a sanitary latrine and water so students can wash their hands after using the toilet and the teachers can bathe and cook with accessible safe water from the 1,000-liter tank that teacher Thong cheerfully showed the CWS audit team during our visit. He also showed us the toilet and said, “These changes are very precious to our students and teachers, especially since having a toilet means we can teach our students – who do not have latrines at their homes – to use a toilet properly.”
CWS is, of course, hopeful that development will continue in Thung village so that they will join the many villages that have reached Open Defecation Free status through government partnership with CWS.
MTQ Giao is the Administration and Finance Manager with CWS in Vietnam.