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Over 210 students share a single restroom in Vietnam



Students across Vietnam dread using school toilets due to a severe shortage of such facilities, with the Ministry of Education and Training reporting some schools are only able to offer one restroom to every 210 students.

In some localities, particularly in Vietnam’s northern mountainous region, the construction of restrooms relies solely on charity and private funding, leading to a dearth of toilets in educational facilities.

Hanoi: too few for too many

At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, which started earlier this month, Hanoi was home to over 2,800 schools and more than 2.2 million students.

“During rush hours, especially during five-minute break times, all the stalls are occupied,” said the parent of a child enrolled at a school in Van Chuong Ward, Dong Da District, Hanoi.

“My child usually doesn’t have time to wait for their turn to use the toilet.”

An educational facility should house one urinal, one toilet, and one sink for every 30 boys or 20 girls, according to Vietnamese standards.

Despite such standards, many schools in Hanoi feature only one male restroom and one female restroom on each floor. 

Unfortunately, a typical floor in a Hanoi-based school is home to ten classrooms with 50-55 students each.

This pales in comparison to other localities, where some schools admit 1,500-2,000 students but provide only six to seven restrooms. 

This averages out at about 210 students per restroom.

Broken, squalid facilities

About 30 percent of school restrooms in Vietnam are substandard and in a state of degradation.

Even in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, only about 80 percent of schools operate with restrooms that meet national standards.

At those schools, having too few restrooms means that the facilities degrade quicker and, unfortunately, there is no budget for maintenance, repair, and regular cleaning.

As a result, broken sinks and toilets are loathed by students across the city.

The few students who are brave enough to relieve themselves at schools are often unable to flush because the toilets are broken and are also unable to wash their hands because there is no soap or tap water.

Some schools only provide squat toilets which use open-air drainage and are consistently overflowing with trash, garbage, and feces.

A teacher guides a student to a bathroom dedicated for female to use during their menstrual periods at Le Dinh Chinh Elementary School in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, September 7, 2022. Photo: My Dung / Tuoi Tre

A teacher guides a student to a bathroom dedicated to female use during their menstrual periods at Le Dinh Chinh Elementary School in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, September 7, 2022. Photo: My Dung / Tuoi Tre

“The biggest worry of parents who have daughters is related to them going to the restroom at school,” a parent told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“School toilets are dirty and always wet. 

“The children loath to use them.

“My child often tries to hold back until she gets home.”

Over the past two years, some districts of Hanoi such as Ha Dong, Thanh Xuan, and Cau Giay have used district funds to hire private services to manage school toilets.

This approach has helped with maintenance, minor repairs, and hygiene, but still fails to solve the issue of overcrowding.

An exemplary situation in Ho Chi Minh City

In Ho Chi Minh City, most school toilets across the metropolis meet requirements, and students are typically not scared of using the restroom, according to the municipal education department.

Le Dinh Chinh Elementary School in District 10, for example, provides students with high quality restrooms.

The 15-year-old school, which accommodates 700 students, has two separate restrooms of 10 toilets and 10 sinks for boys and girls on each floor of its three-story building.

Outside the restrooms, walls are decorated with paintings of animals while the inside facilities are odorless and clean.

“Ever since I began attending this school, I haven’t had to think twice before going to the restroom,” said Bao Ngoc, a fifth grader.

“We also go to the restroom to wash our hands during break times and before and after having lunch.

“None of my friends are afraid of going to the toilet.”

Every year, the school renovates the toilets within its allowed budget, according to the school’s principal Huynh Thi Thao.

Thao also emphasized the importance of daily cleaning and teaching students to keep the toilets clean.

In addition to the common toilets, Le Dinh Chinh Elementary School also built a bathroom exclusively for female students to use during their menstrual periods.

This bathroom was built by converting two teachers’ restrooms.

It includes a changing room and a toilet that are full of natural light.

It is also fully equipped with pads and toilet paper.

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Vietnam to host inaugural NASA Space Week next week



The Vietnam Space Week will be organized in three Vietnamese localities next week, making Vietnam the first Southeast Asian country to hold such a NASA event.

The collaboration for the event involves the People’s Committees of Hau Giang Province, Thu Duc City under Ho Chi Minh City, and Binh Dinh Province, alongside the Ho Chi Minh City Computer Association and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The Hau Giang Convention Center in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang will kick off the first two days of the multi-day event on June 5 and 6.

The Student Culture House in Ho Chi Minh City, located at the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Duc City, will host the third day’s activities on June 7.

The final two days of the event, June 8 and 9, will take place at the Binh Dinh Convention Center in the south-central namesake province.

The objective is to motivate the young generation through captivating stories of astronauts and to introduce scientific research aimed at protecting the earth, mitigating environmental pollution, and raising awareness about the potential dangers of asteroid collisions.

The event’s agenda also includes a NASA STEM Day providing students with the opportunity to participate in various STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities such as astrophysics, zero gravity experiments, robotics, virtual reality experiences, and other engaging scientific programs.

Former astronaut Mike Baker, who was on four space missions, and former flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid will be in attendance at the five-day event, according to The Saigon Times.

“It marks the inaugural implementation of this event in a Southeast Asian country,” The Saigon Times quoted chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Computer Association Lam Nguyen Hai Long as saying at the event’s press conference on May 29. 

“We look forward to its continuity as an annual event and aspire for Vietnam to be a host country preferred by NASA, with the possibility of elevating the event to a regional scale in the future.”

The concept of the Space Week has been prevalent in Scotland since the early 2000s, following the introduction by Hyang Lloyd, a former NASA employee, according to The Saigon Times

The event is also held annually to showcase NASA’s remarkable accomplishments and contributions in the realms of space exploration, scientific investigations, and technological advancements. 

It encompasses a range of activities organized by NASA and its affiliated partners.

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Vietnam bags 4 silvers, 2 bronzes at 2023 Asia-Pacific Informatics Olympiad



All six members of the Vietnamese team competing at the 2023 Asia-Pacific Informatics Olympiad won medals, including four silvers and two bronzes, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training announced on Tuesday.

The four silver medals went to Nguyen Duc Thang, an 11th grader from Hung Vuong High School for Gifted Students in the northern province of Phu Tho; Nguyen Ngoc Dang Khoa, a 12th grader; Pham Cong Minh, an 11th grader; and Tran Xuan Bach, a 12th grader, all from High School for Gifted Students of the University of Science under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi.

The two bronze medals were secured by Le Ngoc Bao Anh, a 12th grader from Le Quy Don High School for Gifted Students in Da Nang, and Tran Vinh Khanh, a 12th grader from Quang Tri Township High School in Quang Tri Province, north-central Vietnam.

The 2023 Asia-Pacific Informatics Olympiad was held online with 1,471 contestants from 36 countries and territories, including students from Canada, Mexico, and Brazil who were invited to participate in the competition but not considered for prizes. China was the host country.

Fifteen Vietnamese students joined the competition at the University of Engineering and Technology under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi on May 20.

Six contestants with the highest scores were chosen for prize consideration, according to regulations of the competition.

With the six medals, Vietnam ranked ninth among the participating countries and territories.

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Vietnamese students win four bronze medals at Asian Physics Olympiad



A team of eight Vietnamese students competed in this year’s Asian Physics Olympiad, winning four bronze medals, according to the results announced by the contest organizers on Sunday.

The four bronze medals went to 12th graders Phan The Manh and Nguyen Tuan Phong of Bac Ninh High School for the Gifted in northern Bac Ninh Province, 11th grader Vo Hoang Hai of the High School for the Gifted of Natural Sciences under the University of Science, Vietnam National University-Hanoi, 11th grader Than The Cong of Bac Giang High School for the Gifted in northern Bac Giang Province.

Four 12th graders, namely Vu Ngo Hoang Duong, Nguyen Minh Tai Loc, Le Viet Hoang Anh, and Nguyen Tuan Duong, were awarded certificates of merit.

The eight students from the Vietnamese team participating in the 2023 Asian Physics Olympiad in Mongolia. Photo: Ministry of Education and Training

The eight students from the Vietnamese team participating in the 2023 Asian Physics Olympiad in Mongolia. Photo: Ministry of Education and Training

The 2023 Asian Physics Olympiad is being held from May 21 to 29 in Mongolia, where 195 students from 26 teams representing 25 countries and territories sit for both theoretical and practical examinations, each lasting 300 minutes.

Vietnam has taken part in the Asian Physics Olympiad a total of 22 times, according to news site VnExpress.

Last year, the Vietnamese delegation claimed a silver medal, two bronze medals, and five certificates of merit. 

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