Bordered by the South China Sea and the countries of China, Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam is considered a financial success story in Southeast Asia. But despite broad economic growth during the past 15 years, not everyone benefits. ChildFund’s work in Vietnam focuses on impoverished communities where ethnic minority groups struggle to improve their living standards. We work with more than 33,000 children and family members to help them access education, healthcare, water and sanitation, and work opportunities.
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Ages 0 – 5: Healthy and Secure
ChildFund Vietnam aims to give every child the best possible start in life. In 2015, we built three new preschools with multiple classrooms, kitchens, clean and safe restrooms, and fenced playgrounds. Also, 174 families received help in creating child-friendly learning corners at home, giving young children a place to play or read. More than 800 children under the age of 5 got medical checkups, and their parents received guidance on preparing nutritious meals, using locally available food. We also provided soap, towels and water systems in communities, serving children and family members who otherwise would not be able to practice good hygiene.
Ages 6 – 14: Educated and Confident
Our work with school-aged children focuses on education, increasing their rights and keeping them safe. In 2015, 120 educators received training in child-centered classrooms, language development, disabilities and stigma, and 372 teachers were trained in experiential learning, which lets children take an active role in their education. We also helped set up 10 child advisory boards — with 150 student participants — so their voices could be heard in the management of their schools. Thousands of children were given notebooks and other educational resources, and more than 20,000 parents, children and other community members attended workshops on children’s rights, child abuse and injury prevention. ChildFund Vietnam and our local partners continue to make sure children’s voices are heard at local, regional and national levels.
Ages 15 – 24: Skilled and Involved
Youth in Vietnam participate in vocational and life skills training programs supported by ChildFund, helping them find good jobs as they finish school. In 2015, these programs centered on animal husbandry, book-keeping and household economy management. We also work with youth to help them make good decisions regarding their lives and their health, and prepare to shape their communities’ future.
Improving Education in Vietnam
In the past 20 years, Vietnam has seen great advances in the number of children enrolled in school, even in the poorest communities. ChildFund’s work, too, has evolved from providing basic school infrastructure to partnering with community members, families and children to make sure their voices are included in the management of schools. We work with local education officials and policy makers to promote education based on children’s rights, experiential learning and child-centered teaching methods.
Our Child Rights and Child Protection program is helping develop the capacity of our local partners and increase the voice and agency of children through clubs, campaigns and a national children’s forum. Teachers and other educational staff members in Vietnam’s poorest school districts receive training in helping students develop cognitive skills, literacy and other academic needs, and some educators are learning about school auditing, to make sure schools continue to improve.
Making sure that children have continuous access to education is a vital part of interrupting the cycle of poverty. Although considerable progress has been made in school enrollment in recent years, students in isolated rural regions have larger challenges, including child labor and higher dropout rates in secondary school.