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[Photos] Unique Thai Nguyen Primary School Criticized for Alleged High Cost, Low Attendance

A toxic rumor has cast doubt on a primary school project in one of Thai Nguyen province’s most secluded communes.

The institution in question is the Lung Luong Primary School, located in Lung Luong Village, Thuong Nung Commune in the northeastern province, a short car ride away from Hanoi. The school made national and international headlines last year when it was completed, thanks to its airy, vibrant and highly functional design and the touching human interest story behind the project, which was made possible by 1+1>2 Architects, architect Hoang Thuc Hao and other sponsors.

ArchDaily called the school “a fresh jungle flower in lively colors and with modern design language.” The bricks used in the structure were made from soil removed during the excavation of the foundation. This maximized the project’s cost-effectiveness and heat insulation. The result is a well-lit, well-ventilated compound that can keeps students warm during Thai Nguyen’s chilly winters and cool in the middle of scorching summers.

However, the primary school recently became the center of contention on local social media after a few critics accused the project of being a waste of money. According to these online accounts, the school only has 30 students, a tiny population that doesn’t justified its construction cost of VND6 billion (US$264,000).

VTC decided to pay a visit to Lung Luong in an attempt to clear its name. Dinh Thi Hoa, Lung Luong’s incumbent headmaster, was surprised to learn of the online criticism. Hoa shared with the news source that the primary school houses 124 students. Moreover, its kindergarten section also takes care of 50 kids from local families.

“Since the new campus was built, the number of students [in Lung Luong] has been very consistent and there are fewer and fewer cases of truancy,” she told VTC in Vietnamese. “The new school is much more convenient; students are also provided lunch so they’re very attached to the school.”

Photos via VTC.

The new compound at Lung Luong Primary School spans 1,200 square meters with offices, a kitchen, a dormitory for students and teachers, a library and a schoolyard. The school has eight elementary classes and two kindergarten classes and is capable of housing up to 160 students.

The main sponsor for the special school was the Hanoi-based Com Co Thit project – literally “rice with meat” – spearheaded by journalist Tran Dang Tuan.

“It’s true that sometimes it takes some convincing for [the students] to go to school because their family is poor,” Tuan told the online news outlet. “However, the reality is most children [here] are in school. The notion that people from the highlands don’t like to go to school is mostly the product of those living in urban areas.”

[Photos via ArchDaily]

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