Life Life

12/02/2019 - 07:53

Knowledge is more precious than wealth

There has been no field for plowing, Phuoc Tich villagers (Phong Hoa, Phong Dien) have desired to "sow words" for their descendants to escape poverty. There are only more than 430 people, the whole village has 30 doctors, masters and more than 300 bachelors working as teachers.

Van Thanh Temple, Phuoc Tich people’s pride

Bachelors are in great abundance

Located on the rich O Lau River, but Phuoc Tich Village has no fields for cultivation. People earn their living mostly in pottery. The hard work is precarious, so the potters remain poor, have many things to dream of.

Deep in the soul, Phuoc Tich villagers have thirsted for study. Therefore, the cultural beauty of “Knowledge being more precious than wealth" has spread from one generation to another.

Phuoc Tich villagers’ pride is Van Thanh Temple. As a symbol of the tradition of “venerating teachers, respecting morality", the temple is the place witnessing a lot of successful people and reminding the future generations to improve morality and nurture talent.

By the ancient custom, every time the children sat examinations, the heads of the families had to purchase the offerings to bring them to the entrance to the village, praying that the children would "gain their laurels." The hope for it becomes true when the number of bachelors in the village is on the rise. And the verse is passed down: “Tú tài lấy triêng mà gạt/ Cử nhân lấy trạc mà khiêng (The number of students passing baccalaureate is incalculable/ Bachelors are in great abundance.)

The story has its roots. In the reign of King Gia Long, Phuoc Tich Village had Nguyen Van Kham, who passed the baccalaureate, was the first to pass in the village. Later, the village had more than 20 people passing the baccalaureate, bachelor's degree exam, and some people held the post of a district or county chief. From the 2nd Thanh Thai year (1890), 11 candidates and students in the village applied for land provision, established Hoi Hamlet (with the appellation of Xuan Vien) in order to focus on study and educate children, so Hoi Hamlet was also called Study Hamlet.

Teachers in Phuoc Tich Village are teaching at Phong Hoa Junior Secondary School

Coming to Phuoc Tich, I heard Mr. Luong Vinh Vien, a former aged teacher, tell the village's study and consider it as "savings". In the past, there was a large school in this area, mostly with Phuoc Tich children. Ragged with burning smoke and dirt all day as they were, they lit oil lamps to go to class by night.

Not only did they learn to be literate but they also taught their children in the area after finishing their studies. Some of the family’s houses of worship in Phuoc Tich have retained the ancient characters: "The literate teach the illiterate."

Mr. Vien recalled that then his generation mostly went to Hue to study at Quốc Học (National Study) School. Every family was difficult, so when in the 4th grade (currently, equivalent to grade 9) students had to tutor. Parents everywhere were very fond of the "teachers" from Phuoc Tich Village.

Many students were well treated by homeowners, invited to stay in the boarding house to study. Thanks to the "brand", Mr. Vien and his friends not only could afford to cover study, but some students also saved up  to help their parents.

According to hamlet chief Hoang Tan Minh, the village has only 117 households with 452 people, but there are more than 300 teachers. As a result, every household had a teacher, even 5-6 teachers. Some people taught near the village, others in the city and the surrounding areas, or further in the South or the North. The number of teachers who taught at university is also considerable. Another quite interesting, random combination is that many teachers in Phuoc Tich chose marriage partners as teachers, so the number of teachers in the village went up.

Visiting the old teacher

It is admirable that Phuoc Tich Village has part the neighborliness, part teacher and student tie. In many families, parents and children all studied with the same teacher. Teacher Nguyen Ba Nhan, Headmaster of Phong Hoa Junior Secondary School, also a son of the village said joyfully that the children in Phuoc Tich Village do not go to extra classes. Teachers who teach all subjects at every level live here

In the past, whenever unable to solve my homework, I ran to my teachers’ houses for help. During my internship, to get the teaching experience, I also had to find my old teachers.

Preserving the familial custom

In the centuries-old ruong houses (an ancient architecture, born in the 17th century, under Vietnamese feudal dynasty), câu đối (a pair of vertical wood panels on which the parallel verses are inscribed) or bức hoành phi (a horizontal lacquered wood panel engraved with Chinese characters) is placed in a solemn position. The left compartment of many traditional houses still keeps family bookcases.

We went to Mr. Le Trong Dao's house, a retired teacher whose family has up to 6 teachers. The lesson plans, precious books were carefully kept as precious memorabilia.

The village couple of teachers, 75, shone with their pride when talking about their students: "At that time, many children suffered from a poor diet, but books and notebooks were always fairly full. They craved for learning. Whenever free, they came to my house to borrow books to read. In the olden days, money was unavailable, and books were scarce, so when reading the interesting information, I copied it into the notebooks for them to refer to. "

Teacher Le Trong Dao still retains the habit of reading

The study of Phuoc Tich Village’s children has been always considered important.  The whole village currently has 50 students at all levels, 30 students of whom won good student prizes from the school to provincial level. Those who achieved high achievements are teachers’ descendants in Phuoc Tich. In the village, there have been over 20 retired teachers and 40 teachers teaching at schools from the preschool to junior secondary level in Phong Hoa Commune. Therefore, many families still preserve their familial custom: when their grandparents tutor their grandchildren, parents prepare lesson plans and instruct their children in seeking materials to supplement the knowledge.

Maintaining the teaching profession for the village is also the responsibility towards the generations of dedicated teachers. They met to establish a 50-strong teaching team to launch a stable fund in order to retain the village custom: the students who study well are always honored at Van Thanh Temple on the autumn sacrificial feasts.

The children in difficult circumstances are awarded scholarships for them not to drop out of school. “Every year, 100% of Phuoc Tich students pass the National High School Graduation Exam, and about 80%   pass the university or college entrance exams. They all work hard to study, so most of them have stable jobs after graduation,” said hamlet chief Hoang Tan Minh.

Wherever they are, Phuoc Tich Village's children desire to preserve the traditional profession of their families and lineages. Therefore, I was not surprised to be told by Mr. Vien that his grandson was studying in Japan. In a few years, he will return and teach Japanese to the children in the village. His voice sounded like joy, and I heard it as if spring had touched the lane.

Story: Hue Thu

Photos: Dang Tuyen

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