Water Safety Education in the Classroom – first ever in Hanoi

Water Safety Education in the Classroom, Viet Hung Primary School, Long Bien, Hanoi

 In 2016-2017 we worked with other iNGOs to create a classroom based water safety education lesson. Our friends in Swim Vietnam took the lead and the final version, completed earlier this year, is excellent. The approach has been tried and tested in Quang Nam and Quang Binh, and Swim for Life are monitoring and evaluating the results with the School of Public Health in Indiana, USA, the Aquatics Institute, Bloomington and iNGO Golden West. This approach to educating children has real potential. It is low resource, good fun and takes only a few hours to deliver. Training the trainer is not difficult. Teachers only need to absorb the relatively simple subject matter.  Furthermore, despite our best efforts,  far too few children have access to professional, safe and good quality swimming lessons. And the season for swimming is short. People swim only in the hottest summer months. The winter months are considered too cold to swim, even when the pool is indoors. So classroom training that can be done all year round is a good complimentary activity.

With their teachers using a simple, fun and interactive lesson (a powerpoint with cartoons, video clips and Q and A),  the children learn basic water safety rules and information:  do not go into the water if you can’t swim, go with an adult who can swim even if you can swim yourself, how to go in and out of the water safely (e.g. do not jump in head first). In a practical part of the lesson, the children learn how to perform safe land-based reaching and throwing rescues, reinforcing the golden rule that you should never, ever, jump in to save someone else. Even if you can swim, rescuing someone from the water is the job of skilled lifeguards.  Jumping in highly risky and you are likely to drown too.

In September 2017, Viet Hung Primary, Long Bien, Hanoi approached us to ask for our help. Their PE teacher Mr Thanh trained as a IFSTA teacher with Hue Help in summer 2017 and recommended us. Principal Ninh and Vice Principal Thu were motivated to teach the children in their school partly because of first hand experience. Principal Ninh’s aunt died in a multiple drowning when she tried to rescue others, and Thu was nearly drowned herself when someone struggling and panicking in the water pulled her under.  Moreover, two children from Long Bien schools tragically drowned over the summer holidays.

In November 2017, we trained 14 teachers from Viet Hung Primary, plus Principal Ninh and VP Thu. The teachers have already taught 600 Grade 4 and 5 children, with Grades 1-3 in the coming weeks. Now all the teachers at the school want to train, and other schools in the District have said they’d like to learn more.