In Vietnam, swimming has never been considered an official subject at schools, although the country boasts a coastline of 3,260km and a large number of rivers and experiences many disasters every year.
Swimming is just being taught as an extra-curricular activity or when children participate in training courses outside their schools.
In late 2010, the Prime Minister approved a sports strategy to 2020 which aims to have all general schools include swimming in their extra-curriculum activities and universalize swimming among all students at general schools by 2020.
However, the goals are still a long way to go as most of the schools cannot teach swimming for students methodically and regularly due to the lack of swimming instructors as well as money and land to build pools.
Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Hong Lan advised schools to be more creative, suggesting the use of appropriate models like pools using waterproof tarpaulins or swimming training in rivers.
Deputy director of the Quang Ninh provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dang Thi Thanh Thuy stressed the need to consider swimming as one of the physical training subjects.
She shared the province’s experience that every year, the province organises free swimming classes in all its 14 cities and districts. During 2011-2015, a total of 224 classes with an average of 30 children a class were organised.
Statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs showed that the number of children died of drowning reduced from 3,500 annually to 1,800 in 2014.
However, since the beginning of this year, the number of accidents reported has seen an uptrend. The reasons are attributed to families’ carelessness, and managing offices’ responsibility.