A Hồ Chí Minh City boarding school principal recently told a Tuổi Trẻ reporter stories about her students, with topics ranging from drugs to sex, which may make listeners “laugh into tears,” as a popular Vietnamese phrase goes.
The educator, in her fifties, has managed the school for 17 years now.
Here is the English translation of what she said.
A female student came to school and I discovered that she was carrying ten taels of gold bullion.
I invited her parents to school and asked if they had lost any money or gold.
“We don’t have any clue,” they answered.
They were shocked when I showed them a report their daughter had written.
The student wrote that her parents made soccer bets [gambling in any form is illegal in Việt Nam].
I asked the student:
“Why did you steal them?”
And she calmly responded that she had wanted to leave her home and parents behind.
She was a high-performing student.
After spotting another student falling asleep in the classroom, I got him tested by a medical worker and found that he was under the influence of crystal meth.
I ordered him to write a report of his behavior and called his parents.
They insisted that:
“It is impossible, we follow him everywhere.”
They did not know he had told me that drugs could easily be handed over when the youngsters passed by each other.
Many students even dropped a rope from their home’s upper floors to pull up the drugs from dealers below.
One day I stopped by a literature class and picked up a 45,000-word English dictionary.
I opened it and my jaw dropped:
A hole the size of a cigarette packet was bored inside [smoking is completely banned in Vietnamese K-12 schools].
The other day a student ran to his teachers in school for help after he was chased by gangsters.
He had pawned his motorbike to gamble on soccer and owed several hundred million Vietnamese đồng.
His high school hired a car to take him home to Tây Ninh Province [100 kilometers from Hồ Chí Minh City] and asked his parents to talk to the creditors.
Recently my medical workers suddenly found out that an obedient, high-achieving female student was pregnant.
She revealed that she had had sex with her boyfriend.
I tried to call her mother many times before I could reach her.
“You say it quickly because I am very busy now,” the mother said on the phone.
After talking with me for a while, she realized the problem.
“Is she pregnant now?” she asked.
She started yelling at us, saying we were telling lies, as soon as she arrived at the school gate.
The mother even refused to accompany her daughter to a hospital for a check-up.
An aunt was sent along with the student instead.
The aunt then returned with the result and the mother beat her daughter right at my school.
She announced she would never accept the student as her child again.
It was the student’s father who took her to a hospital for an abortion.
The girl burst into tears upon seeing the fetus wrapped in a towel before being cremated.
The school’s medical worker who went with her moaned:
“I feel so guilty doing this repeatedly.”
The student would probably resent her mother for life since she showed no sympathy for her in that difficult situation.
She had told her father before going to the hospital that she would leave home for good if the mother turned up there.
In many other cases, parents had no clue when their daughters had sex with their boyfriends at home and became pregnant.
In rare cases, the little girls even engaged in sexual intercourse with housekeepers …
I tell these stories to ring an alarm bell for parents, many of whom simply think that their duty is giving their children enough money and sending them to school.
They never know that what the kids really need is an upbringing.