VIENTIANE, Sep 6 (Reporting ASEAN) – The Nguyen Du Vietnamese-Lao Bilingual School has the largest number of Vietnamese students. The school was founded in 1970 as an elementary school. By 2009, it was offering four levels of education: kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school. There are 400 middle school students, about a quarter of whom are Vietnamese. Every week, students learn Vietnamese language for six to eight hours. They are also taught Vietnam’s history.
Dean Somsack Soukan says: “Summer comes early in Laos. When the rainy season starts, Vietnamese traders often go back to their homeland. Vietnamese students then follow their parents home.”
He says that when the final exams are done, “I have to sign a lot of permits for Vietnamese students to return to their countries. We understand that the students must be with their parents.”
At the start of another new school year, the number of students in the school declines, he says, “because some students withdraw from school and new students come.”
His school admits students based on very simple requirements: non-immigrant resident documents and valid passports of their parents. “Children have the right to go to school, so our school makes it easy for non-immigrant students to go to school in Laos,” Somsack said.
*The original Vietnamese version of this article was published in ‘Red Scarf’ magazine. This feature was produced under the Reporting ASEAN project run by IPS Asia-Pacific and Probe Media Foundation with the support of the ASEAN Foundation and Japan – ASEAN Solidarity Fund.