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'Parent Libraries' in Rural Schools in Vietnam

A Vietnamese man hopes to raise the quality of education in his country by building "parent libraries" in rural schools.

Nguyen Quang Thach provides libraries to the schools so books are more available in farming communities. He works with publishers in Hanoi to get the books at reduced rates for teachers and their students.

By talking with farmers, workers and students, Mr. Thach discovered most schools have enough textbooks, but many poor families have few books at home and do not visit school libraries.

More than 90 percent of Vietnam's population can read and write. But academic performance in the schools remains low compared to other Southeast Asian nations.

Corruption is a big part of the problem. Vietnamese media often report stories of teachers giving high grades in exchange for money. Some experts criticize teaching methods that depend heavily on dictation. They say asking students to repeat everything a teacher says to the class harms their ability to think for themselves.

Nguyen Quang Thach says he wants people to invest money in books for a better future. To date, almost 1,000 parent libraries have been built in Thai Binh Province.
Hundreds of books are in each one. Several other provinces have copied this model. For each school, Mr. Thach helps build libraries for up to four classes. Others then follow his example.

The head of the An Duc secondary school says Mr. Thach's work has improved the quality of education. She thinks Mr. Thach's example helps students think more creatively, or to put it in an American expression... "outside the box."

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 20Dec2012)
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