Vietnam has made excellent progress in alleviating poverty levels across the country. The United Nations is on target to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger in Vietnam by 2015. Education in particular is a primary means of helping people break the poverty cycle, and substantial gains have been made in this area as well.
According to the U.N., net enrollment in primary schools across Vietnam hit 97 percent in 2009, and almost 89 percent of children who enroll in primary school complete at least five years of primary education. Vietnam has also made great progress with regard to gender parity in the education system, as roughly half the students in both primary and secondary schools are female. Although these gains are encouraging and bode well for another U.N. goal to make primary education accessible to all children by 2015, Vietnamese children still face considerable challenges.
For many, the main obstacle to children receiving education is cost. Although attending school is free, families need to provide uniforms, required reading materials and transportation. For families living in rural areas on low incomes, these education expenses can be a substantial burden. According to The Asia Foundation, around 90 percent of Vietnam's poorest people live in remote parts of the countryside, meaning that access to education is difficult at best. Even children who can get to school are often forced to abandon their studies because their parents need them to work and add to the family income. Children’s lack of education is one of the worst effects of poverty.
Another challenge many children in Vietnam face is the varying quality of instruction throughout the country's education systems. Urban areas fare better in attracting well-trained teachers, while rural schools often struggle because the pay is lower. These children may lag behind others in academic basics, never mind cutting-edge knowledge required to succeed in the rapidly changing world.
The U.N. is working with child development agencies and nongovernmental organizations, including ChildFund, to improve the education system in Vietnam today. ChildFund has several ways you can help this important effort. For about a $1 a day, you can sponsor a child and help him or her gain access to better nutrition and education, which are key to a happier life.
Alternately, donating to ChildFund's Children's Greatest Needs program is another way you can help children in poverty. ChildFund has been working in Vietnam since 1995, and we have supported the training of teachers to foster high-quality, child-focused learning environments that support children's academic needs.
Finally, our Learning for Life gift provides children and their families with a wide range of educational programs and vocational services to enable families to break the cycle of poverty. Access to quality education is crucial. By sponsoring a child or making a donation, you can help ChildFund make a real difference in the lives of children in Vietnam and around the world.