It is estimated that 12 children die every day because of drowning. Most recently, four studentsdied of drowning on the Serepok River on May 14, three others drowned on Quan Truong River in Nha Trang City on May 26. A series deaths of drowning reportedly took place in Nghe An province in the last month.
The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, in May 2012, when releasing the result of the national survey on accidents and injuries in 2010, pointed out that drowning was the leading reason behind the children’s deaths. About 4,500 children died a year because of drowning, or 12 a day.
Vietnam, with 3,200 kilometers of the coast line, 392 rivers which run across different localities which have the total length of 41,000 kilometers and many canals, is the country with the higher percentage of children’s deaths because of drowning.
MOET then requested local education departments to run the pilot program on teaching swimming to primary school students in 2010-2015. Fourth graders are the priority subjects of the program, while the teaching could be expanded to third and fifth graders as well.
However, the program cannot run well because of the lack of money and swimming pools.
“In order to teach swimming to students, we need to have teachers and swimming pools. But the schools in Nghe An province don’t have such things,” said Le Van Ngo, Director of the Nghe An provincial Education and Training Department.
Meanwhile, another official of the department said the schools are teaching swimming to students on paper, because they don’t have swimming pools for students to practice.
The “utopian program”
HCM City is considered the locality which has the best conditions to teach swimming to students. However, only 14 schools in the city have swimming pools, while many of them don’t meet the standards for swimming teaching.
To date, 40 primary schools, 69 secondary schools and 83 high schools in the city have universalized the swimming teaching for students.
District 1 in HCM City is the locality which has best organized the swimming teaching program for primary school students. The district’s education sub-department has been, in cooperation with Nguyen Binh Khiem swimming pool’s board of management, teaching swimming to the third graders from 16 schools in the locality.
Here the learning is free of charge for students, because the fee is paid by the district’s people’s committee. Every student can swim 60 minutes a week. To date, 3,000 students have been taught to swim, while 80 percent of students can swim.
Da Nang is the only city in Vietnam, where students can learn swimming free of charge. Under a project sponsored by TASC and the Australian Royal Life Saving Society, 22,700 primary school students have learned swimming free of charge so far.
However, the students in other localities are not as lucky as the ones in Da Nang and HCM City. And they still cannot learn swimming just because of the lack of swimming pools and trainers.