House members speak out against filthy restrooms

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Thanh Nien Daily recently drew attention to the unsanitary state of Vietnam's school toilets. The issue is now likely to be raised in the National Assembly.

Most National Assembly (NA) representatives have said filthy school restrooms were a serious matter.

"Whenever Uncle Ho visited his soldiers and compatriots, the first thing he did was to check out their kitchens and restrooms since he believed food and sanitation greatly affected the quality of life," said deputy and leading historian Duong Trung Quoc.

"School restrooms are thus not beneath the government or NA." Even if toilet hygiene seemed trivial, he said, the NA should discuss larger issues alongside hotly-debated ones.

According to several deputies, people pay no attention to restrooms at school or other-wise.

"People care more about where to sleep or work rather than where to relieve one's self," said Nguyen Minh Thuyet vice chairman of the NA Commission for Culture, Education, Youth, Teenagers and Children.

Thuyet added that a great number of people, including children, have yet to develop a responsible sanitary habit.

"Many of us simply care about the cleanness of our own homes rather than that of public places."

The former vice president of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, also said cleaning staff don't always do a good job.

"But hiring a sanitary and environmental service company to do the cleaning may solve the problem," he said.

"And it isn't very expensive either."

A member of the NA Commission for Social Affairs, deputy Nguyen Minh Hong said, the lack of money isn't a good excuse for unsanitary and inadequate school restrooms.

"Vietnam is known for its love of learning and considers investment in education a good investment for the country's future.

The government and the NA always set aside a relatively large chunk of the budget for education."

But even if the government budget fails, parents can be counted on to contribute, he added.

"For instance, every month, a school just needs to spend an extra VND1 million (US$60) on restrooms. Such an amount wouldn't be a strain on budgets."

"The bottom line is that the Ministry of Education and Training must develop standard guidelines which schools are responsible to follow," Hong said.

However authorities handle the problem, he said, schools must deserve to be called schools, and toilets should never be allowed to become a crisis."

Lastest development

In response to the media coverage of unsanitary school bathrooms, authorities nationwide are taking action to address the problem.

On Thursday, the Da Nang City People's Committee ordered the immediate inspection of restroom facilities at all schools within the city.

The same day in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, the Department of Education and Training issued a similar instruction.

According to the head of the Office of Public Health and Environment under the Ministry of Health, Truong Dinh Bac, the ministry is developing a broad project to improve students' health for the end of the year.

Bac said the ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, Construction and Education and Training would work closely together to maintain hygiene in school restrooms.

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