The school was built in 1997 with the assistance of the Vietnamese Consulate General in Siem Reap and the enthusiastic support of organizations and benefactors. The greatest contribution in establishing the school belongs to Sau Day (or Vo Van Day), who is former President of the Vietnamese overseas association of hamlet 7.
In this school there are only two teachers, from Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province, working for charity. Headmaster Tran Van Tu is 70 years old now, he teaches 1st and 3rd grade, while Nguyen Minh Luan teaches 2nd and 4th grade.
Teaching is quite difficult there as teachers have no subsidy or income. They share with the children rice, clothes, textbooks, notebooks and pens.
A bulletin-board announces, “All Vietnamese families now living near Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, who have children over 6 years old, please bring them to school. Children will receive free accommodation at the school. The school management board will help them study to become responsible citizens contributing to society. Don’t let them beg outside.”
The school has over 300 students. It has just two classrooms, so classes must be divided into many shifts to give every student the chance to study. The ages of the students in each class also vary. Students learn Vietnamese, mathematics and history there. All school fees, cost of books, notebooks and study materials are free. They also are provided with two meals a day.
Their parents are poor labourers, knowing how to speak Vietnamese but can write neither Vietnamese nor Cambodian. Therefore, the parents were inspired when the school was founded and their children had the chance to study, and feel closer to the fatherland.
Most families there are poor and have many children. In some classes, over 10 children are absent as they must help their families earn a living. Sometimes, while studying, a tourism ship goes by, and some children follow the ship to earn daily bread.
Most students are hard-working. Many of them wish to be able to read and write so that they have the opportunity to return to the motherland and study at a higher level.
However, teachers there worry about the danger of illiteracy. There are thousands of children at school age (from 6 to 17 years old), but few of them study through secondary or high school. Few of them are sent to Vietnam for further study after finishing 5th grade there.
The Vietnamese school operates under the sponsorship of the Vietnamese overseas association in Cambodia and benefactors. Source: VOV