Poverty, schools' greed for results cause high dropout rate in Vietnam province

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Teachers at Da Phuoc Secondary School in An Giang Province offer extra lessons for poorly performing students to help them keep up with their class and prevent them from dropping out. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

The school year only began in late August, but authorities in the southern province of An Giang said 4,927 children have already dropped out of secondary and high schools.

Teachers blamed poverty, but education officials also blamed schools for forcing students to go to the next higher grade each year even if they cannot keep up just to make themselves look good, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. This often causes children to give up altogether, they said.

Duong Minh Hung, principal of Da Phuoc Secondary School in An Phu District, said 23 students quit this year.

Many schools in the district, which has a 12.5-15 percent annual dropout rate, are seeing children quit, but teachers said it would be worse after Tet (the Lunar New Year), which falls on January 31 this time.

Hung said many students need to stay at home to take care of younger siblings during the harvest season or even help their parents make a living.

Many students travel with their families and friends to Ho Chi Minh City or nearby industrial provinces to find jobs.

"In many cases, the parents leave for [neighboring] Binh Duong Province but the difficult economic situation does not allow them to earn enough, and their children have to sell lottery tickets to contribute," Hung said.

Figures from the An Giang Department of Education show that around 14 percent of students drop out after ninth grade, and only 43.5 percent of children study 10th grade.

Thai Kim Khai, deputy head of the An Phu District education department, said many parents do not appreciate the need for education.

But he also blamed the high dropout rate on children's inability to follow lessons and schools' refusal to let them remain in the same grade at the end of the year.

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