A Dong Da primary school teacher passed out a timetable that indicated first grade students would have mathematics, spelling, arts and story telling on the first day of the 2009-2010 academic year.
H. decided to help her son to prepare for the lessons. He needed many books and notebooks, including four textbooks plus notebooks for each subject.She placed all of the books and notebooks into his schoolbag and felt something was not right.
“I thought the schoolbag felt heavy, so I tried to weigh it and was unhappy to find out it was 2.7 kilos,” H explained.She added that her son also needed to carry food (milk and sausage) in the schoolbag for break time.
“I feel worried when I see my son having to lug such a heavy bag on his shoulder every day,” she stated.
Parents of many primary schools in Hanoi have also complained that the schoolbags of their children are too heavy.
M. in Bac Linh Dam, a new urban area, reported that her daughter was given a schoolbag as a gift by her Hoang Mai kindergarten. However, M has decided to purchase another, lighter, schoolbag for her daughter.
M observed that the teachers allows students to keep some books and notebooks at school, but her daughter still has to bring too many textbooks back and forth every day.
T, whose son attends Thanh Cong A Primary School in Dong Da district, has another worry. Her son had homework after the first day at school.
He was asked by the teacher to write five pages with the letter “e” and to read in advance the lesson for class the next day.
“I think that first graders need time for relaxation and entertainment,” T. argued. “I don’t want him studying all the time.”
She previously intended to send her son to a people’s school, where she believes that the curriculum will be more reasonable than state-owned schools. However, her son failed the entrance exams for a people’s school (in Vietnam, state-owned schools must accept all district children, while people’s schools can organize competitions to select the best students).
Under current regulations, first and second grade students have five kinds of textbooks and notebooks in total. However, many primary schools in Hanoi ask their students to use reference books and thus students have many books in their schoolbags.
The Hanoi Education and Training Department has asked schools to allow the students, who go to school both in the morning and afternoon, to keep books and textbooks at the schools. It has also asked teachers not to assign homework.