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Financial troubles caused by mass fish deaths prevented about 1,000 students in the central coastal province of Ha Tinh from returning to school for the start of the new year, but now things are different.
Authorities have decided to waive tuition fees and school maintenance costs for those hit by the environmental disaster, after having already offered a 33 percent discount, Nguyen Huu Sum, head of the Education and Training Office of Ky Anh Town, told VnExpress on September 6.
Sum quoted a top official from the provincial education department as saying that no matter how many students attend class, teaching quality remains a priority.
Students were supposed to go back to school on August 25 but to date, only 500 out of 1,500 students in Ky Ha Commune, one of the regions worst-hit by the disaster, have shown up.
Nguyen Thi Nhan, a literature teacher, said that she has been advising fishermen to allow their children to return to school for days, but it hasn't worked.
“You [the teacher] shouldn’t come here anymore. My kids will only go back to school when we've received adequate compensation,” Nhan quoted a parent as saying, added that the teachers are having trouble arranging their schedules as they have to spend time going to students’ houses.
“Many good students have told me that they have bought books, but their parents are forcing them to stay at home.”
This high rate of student dropouts could result in a sense of depression among students who are attending classes and discourage them from studying, another teacher explained.
Phan Duy Vinh, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of Ky Anh Town, said that authorities are working hard to compensate the 54 affected communities but some families have yet to declare their losses and are preventing children from going back to school to put pressure on the government.
Thousands of fishermen in four central coastal provinces have struggled to make a living since the environmental disaster that saw fish die en masse along a 200 kilometer stretch of Vietnam’s coast.
Students are forced to stay at home as their parents are unable to cover tuition fees while fishing and producing salt simply don't pay the bills any more.
The Ministry of Education and Training recently issued an instruction asking for students to be exempt from tuition fees if they are living in areas affected by environmental disasters or natural hazards.
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