Helping ethnic children get an education

Published: 29/03/2011 05:00



Thi Xua, an 11-year-old girl from the Khang ethnic group in Hang A Village in
northern Dien Bien Province, has a brother and sister aged four and one. Thanks
to new oppor-tunities being offered by the Government in a more prosperous Viet
Nam, she can attend primary school.

Xua (centre)
helps cook lunch on a brick stove in their simple boarding house next to school. (Photo: VNS)

Had Xua
been born a few years earlier, she would have had to stay home and look after
her siblings, but her mother decided to do this herself to enable her oldest
daughter to get an education.

Khang still practise slash and burn farming.

Xua is
now in the fourth grade at the only primary school in Rang Dong, a town located
deep in a valley run by Phinh Sang Commune.

It takes
two hours to walk the 8km down a winding path to the school.

But as
the track is impassable in wet weather, Xua lives with dozen of other ethnic
students in a boarding house opposite her school.

accommodation consists of a few rusty, two-level beds. Xua stuffs all her
personal gear – a few books and clothes – into an old schoolbag at the corner of
her bed.

daily diet consists mostly of rice and vegetables. At weekends, she treks home
to visit her family, returning with a small sack of rice and VND10,000 from her

Headmaster of her school, Dao Thi Hue city, said that although the students come from
deprived families, they were not considered poor enough to qualify for a monthly
allowance of VND140,000.

the difficulties, Xua and her friends are determined to study. This puts her
ahead of many girls of the same age.

Statistics from the provincial Department of Education and Training show that in
recent years, only 40 per cent of ethnic girls attend primary school and few
reach higher grades.

reports on welfare

The UNICEF report
“An Analysis of the Situation of Children in Dien Bien” is among the first
in a series of provincial analyses on children’s welfare that UNICEF Viet
Nam has initiated.

The analyses will
contribute to the provinces’ regional five-year plans and annual
socio-economic development plans, so that they can develop more
child-sensitive and evidence-based approaches to problems.

These include the
rights to survival, development, protection and full participation in

This is the first
data report that provides a holistic picture of the situation of children
issues in Viet Nam.

The report will be
launched nationally next month.

A report on the situation in Dien
Bien conducted by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2009 said that the
low transition rate to higher education was holding back the development of many
children from remote villages.

It also
said that girls were likely to be withdrawn from school at an early age to do
domestic work – and get married.

Twenty-one-year-old Lo Thi Nhinh, also from Phinh Sang is a mother to two
toddlers. She said she dropped out of school in the eighth grade, not because
her parents forced her to, but because she “answered the call of love”.

fear of being left on the shelf influences the decisions of many teenage girls.
My two sisters-in-law used to be my classmates before dropping out to marry my
two brothers,” she said.

UNICEF report said that poverty was the most important reason for lack of
education in remote villages. Poor households still depend heavily on child
labour and frequently withdraw their children from school during busy farming
periods. This creates a permanent backlog in the education of many children –
and they often quit school altogether.

Hai Huu, head of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs’ Child Care
and Protection Department, said this pattern was common throughout the

director of the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs
Pham Thi Vinh said Dien Bien was one of the five poorest provinces in the

poverty has declined from 38.3 per cent in 2007 to 33.6 per cent in 2009, their
are wide differences in the rates in the 21 ethnic groups around Dien Bien.

Sylwander, UNICEF’s Viet Nam representative, said there was a great need to
reduce income disparities among the different ethnic groups.

chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Xuan Koi said only by
promoting economic development, could the province address child issues in a
sustainable way.

province’s dissected mountain terrain and weak infrastructure, however, present
a tough challenge. Most of the land is steep and rises to 1,800 metres.

Koi said
provincial authorities would use the UNICEF report to help introduce more
child-sensitive policies into the socio-economic development plan during the
next five years.

Sylwander added: “Now the pressure is on because local authorities know the
problem. But much more data like this needs to get out to the people.

need to know that if they push for better infrastructure and services, they will

Xua has
a dream of becoming a teacher, a dream shared by many of her schoolmates. They
see education as the only way to a better life in a broader, more sophisticated

Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

Helping ethnic children get an education - Education - News |  vietnam travel company

You can see more

enews & updates

Sign up to receive breaking news as well as receive other site updates!

Ads by Adonline