Kaleidoscope (14-07-2013)

by Van Dat

Keeping their eyes on the prize

Le Thi Trang and Vo Van Nhat are already disadvantaged by their blindness, but they are not willing to compromise on what they want to achieve, even if it means shunning priority treatment that they are entitled to.

The girl from Binh Duong Province’s Ben Cat District and the boy from Da Nang City’s Ngu Hanh Son District were among the millions who sat for their university entrance examinations this year, although they were entitled to direct admission without having to pass the highly competitive test.

Trang wants to be a journalist. So she refused an admission offer from HCM City University of Pedagogy’s Psychology Department, and wrote the entrance exams to get admitted to the HCM City University of Social Science and Humanity’s Journalism Department.

Trang, the elder sister of two brothers in a poor family, has not been able to see since she was in the fourth grade. This did not thwart her determination to support her parents as well as others in her predicament.

She began to pursue her dream at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind in HCM City. When she expressed her desire to become a journalist and work to help people like herself, she was advised by many people to forget it, because it was a hard job for normal people, and would be much more so for people with the disability that she has.

However, she has been able to impress the dean of the school’s journalism department with her zeal, her exam results and some articles she had written earlier.

Nhat, who has been blind since he was two years old, also refused to apply for priority admission to Da Nang University, something that he is entitled to, and decided to sit for the entrance examinations. He dreams of becoming a businessman and opening his own company to help people with visual impairments.

His mother, 45-year-old Nguyen Thi Anh, said she was proud of her son’s courage and determination. He has “disagreed with his destiny” since he was a child, and studied very hard to succeed, she added.

A short-sighted decision?

It is normal that people with disabilities and other disadvantages are given priority for university admissions.

But a recent circular issued by the Ministry of Education and Training has left citizens scratching their heads. It says Heroic Mothers and those who had contributed to the country’s revolutionary struggles before 1945 will be given preferences to get trained at the country’s universities.

Information about the circular, carried by the Dan Tri online newspaper, prompted many education experts to express their opinion and hope that there was some inadvertent error involved as the eligible would be too old to enter universities.

The circular says university admission priority will also be given to soldiers affected by chemicals during the nation’s resistance wars and former political prisoners.

Professor Van Nhu Cuong told the paper he suspects some “typing mistakes” have been made in the document.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga explained to the paper that women whose children have been recently martyred in service of the nation would also get the priority.

Responding to a question, he said no Heroic Mother had so far applied for university admission. The circular reflected a general long term policy, he explained.

Better late than never

63-year-old Quang Tri native Nguyen Van Minh gets an A for the enthusiasm and perseverance he has shown in sitting for the university entrance examinations.

Despite opposition from his wife and children, Minh insisted on sitting for the exam for the fifth time, after failing in four previous attempts to gain admission to the Hue Foreign Languages University to realise his ambition of becoming a French teacher.

Health problems had forced the graduate of An Cuu College of Pedagogy in Hue to retire from his job as a teacher, and work as a security guard at the Quang Tri Radio Station.

While working as a security guard, Minh nurtured a dream to study again and began to prepare on his own for the university entrance examinations, frequently asking his children for help.

He failed the exam at his first sitting in 2008. In 2010, he had to skip the exam due to toothache. Unfortunately, his subsequent attempts in 2011 and 2012 also ended in failure.

“My wife and children are unhappy because I continue to sit for the examinations. Neighbours think I am crazy. I do it because I am passionate about studying,” Minh said.

In order to have enough money to support himself during th exam time, he has had to put aside VND500 – 1,000 into his piggy bank every day without his wife’s knowledge, he said.

Although the result of his latest attempt is not known, Minh has already set two records – one as the oldest candidate and another as the candidate who has sat for the exam the maximum number of times. — VNS

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