‘What is your name?’, ‘How old are you?’, ‘What is your hobby?’ are only some of the questions that the smiling children asked us at the primary school of Hoang Van Thu this morning. Their confidence, curiosity and courage was apparent!
We planted flowers together and the children performed various dances and plays for us. The school felt like a place that was safe and friendly where the children dared to speak up and dared to dream. Save the Children funds programmes in this school, which has a large number of migrant children. They are some of the most vulnerable and deprived children in Ho Chi Minh City and stand for about 30% of the school’s population.
How can I even try to explain what it was that touched my heart the most? Was it the music and the singing? The spirited children and the committed teachers? Or the feeling of togetherness? I think the culmination of all of the love, energy and gratitude that I saw today will live with me for a long time.
Nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of all Vietnamese children aged between two and 14 have experienced violent discipline. Therefore, Save the Children has launched a campaign focusing on ending the violence against children in homes and schools. This campaign has made sure that teachers have been educated in the benefits of positive discipline and have spread this education to the parents, as well as other schools in the area. In every classroom, there hangs a poster signed by the students, parents and teachers reminding them of the importance of a nonviolent atmosphere in homes and in schools.
The campaign also focuses on listening to the children and having a dialogue between children and teachers about positive discipline, and the great advantages it brings. The teachers told us that they have seen a difference in the school since this campaign. Children are more confident today, and dare to speak up more, as they have become aware of their rights. Teachers treat them with more respect. It seems like the campaign is having an effect in the school setting but there is still a long way to go, especially in communities and home settings.
We spent the afternoon at the secondary school of Huynh Van Nghe, where we enjoyed numerous activities together with the students such as tug-of-war, dancing, singing, painting of the counselling room, and planting flowers in their student-initiated garden. The energy that the students had was enormous and you could see how happy they were to see us! I can tell you that the feeling was mutual. After all, children are the most important people in the world!