Vietnamese children harbor adult concerns

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The winners at the finale of the Children's Idea contest in Hanoi August 17. Photo courtesy of Tien Phong

A recent invention contest suggests Vietnamese children are more concerned about national affairs like poverty than having fun.

Kiwamu Kayano, a judge of the Children's Idea contest organized for primary school children in Vietnam, Japan and Thailand by Japanese car manufacturer Honda, said children in the other countries had ideas about making people happier on a personal level, while Vietnamese children care more about fixing problems and protecting people.

The ideas come from their observations that many people around them suffer from daily difficulties involving the environment, heath care and education, Kayano said in a Tien Phong report Tuesday.

"This is an interesting difference," he said.

Among the ideas Japanese and Thai children came up with were a washing machine that cleans sadness from clothes and an umbrella that plays music and dispenses candy to prevent people from feeling sad when it rains.

The judge said children in Japan and Thailand are thinking on an emotional level, while Vietnamese participants are preoccupied with the pragmatics of solving macro-social and political problems.

Using turtles to protect Vietnam's borders, an underground machine able detect forest fires, a vehicle that filters dioxin, and bees to protect forests from illegal loggers were some of their ideas.

Huynh Thi Truc Vy from the central province of Quang Nam burst into tears during the contest's finale on August 17 when presenting her idea about a safety outfit, which was inspired by the work-related death of her father, a construction worker.

Nguyen Hong Thu, another judge, said she felt proud, but also sad upon hearing the children's ideas, as they do not only reflect the ugly truths about Vietnam, but also indicate that adults and the media have failed to shield them from depressing issues.

Thu said every country has its problems, which children learn about from the media, but in Vietnam, negative news tends to dominate.

The sixth edition of the contest in Vietnam began in March and was co-organized by the Ministry of Education and Training.

Financial support was given for the children to build models for 60 selected inventions. 

Two VND20 million scholarships were given to the inventors of an environmentally friendly air-conditioner and a caterpillar-shaped cable car system.

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