Jan 15, 2013

Vietnam - Student suspended for Facebook post may return to school

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A middle student who is on a one-year suspension for parodying late President Ho Chi Minh on Facebook may be allowed to return to school after a Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union chapter in the central province of Quang Nam agreed to act as a guarantee for her.

Nguyen Thanh V., a 14-year-old 8th-grader at Ly Tu Trong Middle School in the provincial capital Tam Ky’s An Xuan Ward, was handed the suspension earlier this month after posting a Facebook status that her principal said insulted educators and distorted Vietnamese history.

Many people, including educators and those who pay close attention to education, have complained that the school was too strict with V., even though they agreed that discipline needs to be maintained in order to ensure order at school.

Given such opinions, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union of An Xuan Ward worked Thursday with Ly Tu Trong to ask them to allow V. to return to school upon its guarantee.

The student’s family admitted their responsibility in this incident at a meeting with the school, and expressed their hope that she would be allowed to continue studying this school year. V. also acknowledged her mistake at the same meeting.

Nguyen Tat Thang, director of the Quang Nam Department of Education and Training, told newswire VnExpress that Ly Tu Trong will probably let her return to school following the union’s guarantee.

Principal Nguyen Tan Si said that his school will re-consider the penalty for the student, and noted that V. should display her willingness to rectify the mistake and improve her conduct at school.

“Her return to school is not a big deal, but she behaves after her return matters,” Si said. “She must promise to avoid backsliding.”

“Anyway, it would be hard for us to manage our 1,200 students if we had been too lenient with her,” the educator explained.

On December 17 V. posted an ‘appeal’ in Vietnamese aimed at fellow students on her Facebook page, which imitated the tone and wording of late President Ho Chi Minh’s call for a national uprising against French colonialism in 1946.

The 'appeal' urged Ly Tu Trong students to use every method possible to “fight the bọn (used before nouns to express offensive meanings in Vietnamese) giáo viên (teachers), and bọn phòng giáo dục (education board members)” to pass end-of-semester exams because “they are determined to fail us once again.”

“We would rather sacrifice all we have than retake our exams,” a sentence reads. “We must stand up!”

Uncle Ho originally appealed to his people to “fight the French colonialists to save our country” because “they are determined to occupy our country once again.”

“We would rather sacrifice all we have than lose our country or become slaves,” the late leader said. “Dear my people, we must stand up!”

Si, the principal, then complained that V. had seriously affronted the school and her teachers, and even worse, deformed Vietnamese history with her post.

Many of her friends showed their mistaken awareness when they supported the status, he said, adding that at the time V. was on another three-day suspension following a fight with schoolmates.

The educator revealed that his staff had met with V.’s family three times regarding her repeated poor conduct at school, but the student had shown little improvement.

He said that the school decided to dismiss her for a year only after they had already discussed the penalty at three separate meetings.

V. said that she copied the status from another Facebook page, making some modifications and posting it just for fun.

“Many of my classmates also uploaded a similar status to their Facebook pages,” she said, “so I simply thought it was purely for other friends to read and laugh at. I didn’t mean to insult my teachers.”

The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union is the largest social-political organization of Vietnamese youth, and is directly led by the Communist Party of Vietnam.


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