(VOVworld) – The parking lot of Upper Secondary School No4 in Van Ban district, Lao Cai province, is packed with bicycles that pupils have borrowed from a project. Poor students have used these bicycles for the past 6 years to travel from their home to school.
Students of Upper Secondary School No4 lives in 5 very poor communes of Van Ban district. Because the school is very far from their homes, the students used to arrive late for class or dropped out of school permanently. A bicycle-lending project was established to fix the problem. Luc Cao Cuong, Vice Principal of Upper Secondary School No4, said: “The project aims to get pupils to school on time and enjoy school more because they no longer have to walk that long distance.”
Students who live 5 km or more from school are entitled to borrow one of the bicycles, which are purchased with funds donated by private donors. If there is any problem with a bicycle, the school fixes it. When the academic year ends, the bicycles are returned for next year’s use.
The project began in 2010, when the school bought 4 secondhand bicycles for the poorest students to borrow. In 6 years, the number of bicycles has increased to 125, benefiting more than 400 poor students. Vuong Van Huong, an 11th grader, said: "Previously, I had to get up very early and still was late for school during rainy or winter days. Now because I am given a bicycle, I can get up later and come school on time. The 7-km distance has been shortened. This program is very practical and effective.”
With a decreasing rate of tardiness and dropouts, the school’s performance has improved. The percentage of good and excellent students has jumped from 20% in 2011 to 40%. Many poor students who borrow bicycles have are achieving better academic results. Principal Nguyen Minh Tuan said: “Thanks to this project, we have persuaded 7 dropouts to go to school again. The project is getting students to love school more. The number of students graduating from lower secondary school and enrolling in our school, has risen from 37% in 2009 to 71% this year.”