In one short year, construction of the school in the Pa Nho village in Vietnam has been completed. The project, funded by both Global Playground in partnership with the Global Community Service Organization, will serve 150-200 students from ages 5 to 14 years old.
“The school building project in Khe Sanh offers Global Playground a unique opportunity to connect ethnic minority groups living in Vietnam with other children in the world through education,” Global Playground Executive Director Edward Branagan said.
95 percent of the students who will attend the school come from families that are members of ethnic hill tribes. Out of those students, 90 percent are living below the official Vietnam poverty line of $15 dollars a month.
The new school brings the possibility of a stable and uninterrupted school year for the students by providing an infrastructure that won’t close when the heavy rain season comes. The previous facility was built on a flood plain creating an unstable academic year for the community.
“Yearly rains rendered the school unstable for up to 2 months at a time, thus effectively shutting down the facility and forcing students to stay at home,” GCSO Southeast Asia Regional Director Max Talcott said.
The opportunity to attend primary school now will allow students to pursue higher education later. The facility can also serve as a storm shelter when needed for the community.
“All these kids really want is a place to play, a place to interact, a place to go to school,” Global Playground Chairman Doug Bunch said. “The opportunity to give these kids the infrastructure to do that and to put them in touch with the rest of the world is one we take very seriously.”
The Pa Nho village is located just outside of the Khe Sanh town, a former large Marine Corps base that was the location of many fierce battles during the Vietnam War. The area is still not completely free of land mines and bears emotional scars from the war.
“Building a U.S.-financed school in that area is a symbolic measure of how the positive relations between Vietnam and the United States have come since the war,” Talcott said.
The local government has been involved throughout the planning and construction of the project, and they have agreed to take over operational expenses now that construction is complete. The school was built in cooperation with the Quang Tri People’s Committee, the Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs, the Huong Ha District’s Department of Education and Training, and the Huong Ha District People’s Committee.
A ceremony to dedicate the school and celebrate the completion of construction will be held in the near future. Students have already begun attending classes.