By Shauna Regan
Education. It is singularly one of the most important words in Vietnam and I feel quite special to have added to it a small bit. It holds a value in Vietnam that I have never seen in any other country. Like the director of CSDS once said to us; ‘Education is the key to change’. In my one month of living and working with Vietnamese people, there is nothing they hold higher than education. Not money. Not fame. Just plain and simple, educate yourself for a better life. They believe it is their solution to get out of poverty, their answer to inequalities and their general hope for the future.
For two weeks, we taught English classes to girls and boys around the ages of 11. It is an incredibly refreshing feeling to teach students who want to learn, to have teachers that enthusiastically support you and to have schools that actually want to make a difference. A difference to children’s lives that will open them up to opportunities. Opportunities to go to third level education. Opportunities to get a good job. An opportunity to succeed.
Success for their children is all that Vietnamese parents want. Vietnamese parents push their children to do well in school so they can have better lives than the ones they did. They don’t want their children to live through hardship like they did. Vietnamese kids want to better themselves. They want to absorb knowledge and are so open to new ways of learning. The kids I taught respect their parents’ wishes for their education and they also have a huge respect for whoever it is educating them. Vietnamese educators just want to do better for their students. They want to improve themselves so that they can improve their classes.
All in all it’s just this big cycle that continues on and on and in the end the result is clear; Education does lead to success. Whether it’s just success in graduating from High School or in gaining a degree, it is success and the Vietnamese take great pride in it. Like the American Philosopher Allan Bloom once said ‘Education is the movement from darkness to light’. This is something I truly believe and I think most if not all of Vietnam do too.