The school is in An Điền hamlet, An Thuận village, Thạnh Phú district, Bến Tre province.
Thạnh Phú is the poorest district of Bến Tre, some 80 kilometres south-west of HCM City. The population makes their living by rice cultivation. Because the district is near the sea, rice fields are frequently flooded with salt water. Therefore, rice yield is very low and total production is not enough to feed the local population.
The existing school had 4 teachers and 150 primary school children. It was a dilapidated makeshift of bamboo poles and lattices, palm leaves, cardboard and rusty iron sheets. Walls and roofs were all tattered and full with gaps. They could not provide even basic protection for children from winds and rains. Frequent gusts of ocean wind threw up dust and sand through the classrooms, sending the children scurrying for cover. On rainy days, children had to huddle together in corners to avoid the wet and wait for the rain to stop to resume lessons. If it rained too long the school had to be closed and children had to go back on Sundays for make-up lessons.
The new school
Vietnam Foundation helped build a new building for the school. The new building is of brick and tile construction. It consists of 4 classrooms, a staff room and a toilet. A water well and new fences are also added to the school. Each classroom is 6m x 8m and has a 2m-wide veranda.
The total cost of the project was VND190 Million (about AUD22,000). Apart from the contribution of AUD10,000 from the Vietnam Foundation, other contributions came from Vietnamese individuals and organisations in the US and in Vietnam. The local population contributed their labour for the building of the school.
Construction was started on 1 April 1998. The school was handled over to the local people on 19 July 1998.