Chairman of the Provincial Peoples’ Committee Nguyen Van Phuong awarding to students winning international Silver medals
Finding excellent students
By the end of the year, Nguyen Phu Tho, teacher, the Principal of Quoc Hoc High school for Gifted invited me to go on a trip to secondary schools in the districts with an aim to find out excellent students, especially the ones for math subject first. Said it between jest and earnest, I asked that whether he needed to look for someone outside the brand name of Quoc Hoc High school for the Gifted, as it was “Good wine needs no bush”. Responding me was the head shaking of Mr. Tho, and, his explanation was that in the districts, there were so many brilliant students but they hesitated to enroll to specialized high school.
Looking back to dozens of years ago, it was easy to witness a great number of students from other provinces coming to Hue to study at Quoc Hoc High school for the Gifted. Afterward, the number of students enrolling to this school gradually decreased when just around 50 students are admitted every year. Out of 420 admitted students recorded each year, the number of those who are students from district schools is also just around 40 to 50.
To explain this matter, Mr. Tho said that many rural students did not want to try to enroll because they were still afraid of the difficulty of passing the entrance exam to Quoc Hoc High school. With that reason, the principal must go to find the “student resources” personally.
He said that each region had its strength of being good at a certain subject, so it must be so great to find just one student. After finding out, what we had to do was just guiding them to enroll to the school then finding the way to gradually sharpen the “jewel”.
Students participating in Robocon competition
I clearly felt that Mr. Tho was so optimistic and had a strategic vision when, in the academic year of 2021 - 2022, Thua Thien Hue ranked ninth nationwide on national prize-winning students, the desirable position of many other provinces and cities in the field of education. As for the current 5 years, Thua Thien Hue had 5 students winning international and Asian prizes.
It was not a simple thing to “pass this door” when each team participating in the international competition just had 4 students who were carefully selected in a total of 63 provinces and cities. Taking advantage of the going-on story, I asked Mr. Tho if he had ever wanted to affirm the position of Quoc Hoc High school for the Gifted in training students to join the international arena? Mr. Tho answered me in unassertiveness that he did not dare to “offer to teach fish to swim” when the specialized schools in other provinces have sophisticatedly invested in spearhead education.
According to Mr. Le Quoc Anh, a physics teacher, thanks to the relations with other physics teachers working at schools, he often gets tips to “order” and “bring up” students since they were in grade 9.
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dieu Hanh, a biology teacher also made the same way. As soon as finding out a student with good quality in this subject, she would tutor them from the time they were still in grade 9 to be able to pass the examination to Quoc Hoc High school first, then she would consider the next step.
Reviewing to the story of Le Cong Minh Hieu, many people still claimed that Mr. Le Quoc Anh did the person choosing so well. Hieu was a student at Nguyen Tri Phuong junior high school. Although he studied so well, however, he did not win high prizes due to his unstable psychology.
Mr. Quoc Anh discovered that Hieu lacked skills which led to inaccurate knowledge application to the test. Finding out the reason, Hieu was trained on the way to do the test. Thanks to that, he was no longer obsessed with the phrase “man proposes, god disposes” and, later, won high prizes many years such as the Gold medal at the Northern Coast and Delta Olympics and the first prize of the provincial and national competitions. Especially, in 2019, when he was an 11th grade student, Le Cong Minh Hieu won the Bronze medal in Asian Physic Olympiad 2019.
Students carrying out scientific research in the lab
Truong Dong Hung and Ho Viet Duc were the typical students that the female teacher Nguyen Thi Dieu Hanh and the biology team have applied successfully the method of selection and fostering since they just entered grade 10. The strength of Ho Viet Duc was quick ability to acquire knowledge and has a diversified source of knowledge, but his handwriting was so bad, his exam presentation was not clear, which were easy to lose points; therefore, she kept on training her students.
Preparing for the teams, Mr. Le Quoc Anh chose the excellent, intelligent but also calm and careful students, thereby, offering suitable teaching methods. Even Nguyen Hai Vy and Ho Ngoc Vinh Phat, they were not the ones with outstanding achievements at first.
The teacher discovered the quality in Vy. However, this “jewel” has not been sharpened because living far from city center and having difficult living circumstance, he has never ever gone through any cram school; while Ho Ngoc Vinh Phat did not “get an eye” to participate in any international competition. Although his studying result in grade 10 was not so brilliant, he made a spectacular breakthrough in grade 12 to win the Silver medal at Asia-Pacific Informatics Olympiads 2021 and IOI competition 2021.
Belief from a project
The pressure to be in the team is real. Having not finished the syllabus of grade 10, the students had to finish all the curricula of the grade 10 to grade 12. Being urgent but not hurried, and with teacher’s acumen, even though the students had to make a lot of tests, sometimes it was up to 7 to 8 times that some were to be selected.
Passing the “narrow door”, the “fighting cocks” had to face a series of exams for good students. Therefore, a day of a excellent student was studying all the time and put their concentration on specialized subjects to find an opportunity to win the prizes. The houses’ of the teachers teaching the excellent students of the national teams were always like a “general headquarters” when the students could come at anytime to review and drill.
Recently, there was a project for the development of Quoc Hoc High school for the Gifted with various incentives for teachers and students, especially top-notch education. Also recommended in the project, the reward for students winning international gold medals is 5 times higher and reaches up to 300 million VND per one. Those winning regional prize will receive the award worth 70% of international prize, and the reward for national prize is also double than before.
All are ready for the training and cultivation the generation of “golden” students for Quoc Hoc. All thing students need is the quality, a real passion on specialized subjects, brilliant mentality, using foreign languages fluently, and last but not least, having a good physical strength to suffer the pressure of international arenas. That must be the “real gold” and the teachers of these teams are the ones who “dig the sand to find gold”.
Story: Hue Thu
Photos: Hue Thu - Quynh Chau