Vietnamese public opinion: An Giang female student committing suicide shows ruined education

Gate of Vinh Xuong High School, Tan Chau, An Giang

A week has passed since a 10th-grade girl in An Giang almost died while trying to commit suicide to protest the school’s unfair disciplinary measures, Vietnamese public opinion is still seething in condemnation of the school in particular and the Vietnamese education in general.

Meanwhile, the girl’s sister told VOA that the family believes that the authorities will get her fair, and also said that the family does not judge the education sector in Vietnam.

On Monday morning, December 7, from the hospital, Ms. Le Thi Ngoc Mai, the older sister of the 10th grade female student whose name is abbreviated to Y., told VOA about the girl’s health condition:

Currently my younger sister is still taking antibiotics. And her psychological health has not been stabilized.”

Female student Y. of Vinh Xuong High School, Tan Chau town, An Giang province, tried to commit suicide on November 30 because of resentment about the school’s disciplinary measures, but she was taken to the emergency on time.

According to Ms. Mai, Y’s 23-year-old sister, the reasons causing her resentment include: First, the school violated the regulations of the province’s Department of Education when forcing female students to take 5 additional subjects; Second, the school falsely accused Y. of “causing misunderstanding in school and family relations” as well as “negatively affecting the honor and reputation of teachers;” and the third is the application of undue discipline.

Ms. Mai asserted that Y. was a good student from grades 6 to 9, so she has no need for extra classes, but the teacher forced her to take 5 more subjects because “everyone is like that.”

Regarding Y. being disciplined, Ms. Mai said that the family “did not know how what did Y committed” that the school forced the female student to go to work early in the morning from 6.30 to 6.50 am every day. Although the family asked the school to sympathize because Y. had asthma and had broken her arm.

In addition, Ms. Mai said that the school was even more harsh when they read the disciplinary notice against Y. in front of the whole school, causing great pressure on the girl. The incident did not stop when the teachers still tried to force Y. to write a self-checking and read it in front of the whole school. Ms. Mai added:

On the side of the class teacher still tormented her, still torturing her spirit, calling her out to speak out loud, making a self-check sheet to read in front of the whole school, which is torturing her mentally. Then teachers said they would take her case to a disciplinary committee. A student who heard about the disciplinary committee was very scared. That affects my sister’s psychology a lot, making her fall in panic and fear, and cry a lot.”

Ms. Le Thi Ngoc Mai’s denunciation against the leadership of Vinh Xuong High School, Tan Chau, An Giang; dated December 5, 2020

Frustrated about the school pushing her sister to commit suicide, on December 5, Ms. Mai filed a complaint against the school’s leaders to the Department of Education and Training of An Giang province, the police and the Procuracy of the Tan Chau town.

In the petition, Ms. Mai accused Mr. Nguyen Viet Hum, the principal; Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Hanh, vice principal; and Ms. Huynh Thi Thu Hue, the main class teacher of female student Y, who unjustly disciplined her, as well as insulted her reputation, honor and dignity, leading to her distraught and almost losing her life.

On December 6, the director of the An Giang Department of Education and Training issued a decision to suspend work for Mr. Hum, the principal of Vinh Xuong High School, and Ms. Hanh, the vice principal, for a period of 15 days, since December 7, according to the state-controlled newspapers such as Lao Dong and Zing News.

The department’s decision states that the school has errors, including: Incorrect organization of tutoring at school in accordance with regulations when tutoring, mass tutoring for all students in regular classes; and the school has a form of criticizing and disciplining students not in accordance with the regulations of the education sector, according to the domestic media.

Not long after the incident of Ms. Y’s suicide and being taken to the emergency, the online community discovered an account holder named “Yêu Màu Tím/Purple Love“, believed to be from Ms. Hue, the main class teacher of female student Y ., posted on the social network Zalo the words that were considered “sarcastic,” “mocking,” and  “vile” about Y.

The decision on discipline of the An Giang Department of Education and Training assigns the responsibility to the interim leader of Vinh Xuong School to verify that the article on Zalo is corrected by Ms. Hue, and from there is an appropriate form of handling.

Many criticized Vietnamese education after a schoolgirl committed suicide in An Giang; December 6, 2020

Ms. Mai told VOA about her family’s response to the authorities’ actions:

Right now, my family dedicates all our time, thinking about my sister’s health first. As for how to handle the teachers, my family believes that the authorities will regain justice for my sister. The family believes very much that the authorities would be very fair.”

Although Mai almost lost her sister, she told VOA that she did not want to judge the education sector because although there are bad teachers, there are still many very good and respected teachers.

Meanwhile, through observation of Vietnamese public opinion shown in forums on Facebook with a total of hundreds of thousands of members, including Nhật ký Yêu nước/Patriotism Diary, Báo sạch/Clean Newspaper, Góc Nhìn Báo Chí-Công Dân Press-Citizen’s Perspective, VOA noticed many people considered the suicide of female student Y as another sign that Vietnam’s education is increasingly rotten.

Many people cited their own experience as students or parents asserting that the nature of the incident was that schools forced students to take extra classes to force students to pay additional money for schools, and when students protested, schools used all kinds of tricks to suppress them.

Mr. Do Viet Khoa, a teacher known for combating negativity in the education sector, confirmed that this situation occurs in many schools. He told VOA:

It all comes from forcing students to take extra classes to pay additional for the schools. This is the greed of the teachers, is a sin of the people wearing the teacher’s shirt. They turn the teaching profession into a place to make money. In addition to tutoring, many schools also draw illegal and unofficial revenues. This phenomenon is extremely common. All are greed diseases of those who have been or are still wearing the teacher’s clothes.”

Opinions on social media about the suicide of grade 10 girls in An Giang; December 6, 2020

According to Mr. Khoa, this situation has lasted for at least 15 years and has been exacerbated by the “greedy” and “ignorance” of the Vietnamese authorities.

With an understanding of his own experience as a teacher and the power structure in Vietnam, Mr. Khoa said that there is almost no hope of fixing the pressure on students to take tutoring in particular and other problems in the education sector in general.

Explaining his point of view, Mr. Khoa said:

The common characteristic of state officials now is a corruption of all kinds, covering up wrongdoing. Therefore, they never handle that mistake. So, to be honest, ending that situation is almost powerless in the current regime. It can’t be stopped, because the country is lacking in dignified people to be leaders. That is the most difficult thing in Vietnam today. Rotten is at that level that cannot be imagined the brazen of an entire system.”

On social media, many people expressed pain that compared to the reunification of the country in 1975, the current Vietnamese education sector, especially in the south, had been so badly degraded that it seemed impossible to be corrected. (Translated)