European Union – Vietnam: Cooperation to improve a better access to school for ethnic minority children

Lai Chau, March 17th 2016 – Aide et Action Vietnam (AEA) and its partner the Consultative Institute for Socio-Economic Development of Rural and Mountainous Areas (CISDOMA) are launching the project ‘Promoting inclusive and relevant early childhood care and education for ethnic minority and disadvantaged children in Tam Duong district, Lai Chau province’. The project has been funded by the European Union (EU) with the total budget of EUR 531,698 (approximately 13 billion Vietnamese Dong), within the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The event is attended by representatives from Ministry of Education and Training, different departments of Lai Chau province and the media.


The three year project aims to enable ethnic minority and disadvantaged children living in remote areas to access high quality, relevant pre-school and early primary education through the development and incorporation of enhanced teaching pedagogies, the promotion of active parental participation in the education process, and the effective advocacy of policymakers on best practices.


“The first eight years of a child’s life are critical to their future prospects. We are delighted to have received this grant from the EU which provides the chance to progress the cause of early childhood education for children in one of the most disadvantaged and remote provinces of the country, Lai Chau. We believe the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of supplementary bilingual materials in improving the quality of education for children from ethnic minority groups is a particularly exciting one, not just for our target communities but for the long-term benefit of the country as a whole,” said Ms. Nguyen Thi Tu, Country Representative of Aide et Action Vietnam.


As one of the poorest districts of Lai Chau province, Tam Duong district is home to many ethnic minorities including Dao, Thai, but H’Mong population (90%) dominates the three communes of Ta Leng, Nung Nang and Khun Ha where the project is carried out. Children from H’Mong ethnic group have very limited access to education in their mother tongue. The language barrier coupled with poor quality of teaching and family economic difficulties often mean that ethnic minority children are excluded from active learning, which contributes to their poor school performance, school dropout and limited opportunities throughout their lives. Ms. Daniela Forte, Programme Officer for Governance and Rule of Law at the EU Delegation to Vietnam emphasized that “over the last 15 years Vietnam has achieved the universal primary education and the country is moving towards universal lower secondary education. But there are still remaining challenges. As recognised by the Government, Vietnam still needs to rigorously upgrade the quality of education to strengthen its human capital and meet the demands of a growing economy with an international outlook. The challenge is to overcome the inequality in educational access and quality that persists among different ethnic and socio-economic groups and diverse geographical regions. Early childhood education is critical in preparing children to enter and succeed in the classroom. We hope that the child-centered and inclusive approach of this project can contribute to the recognition of the importance of pre-school and primary education for ethnic minority children and the improvement of the quality of education overall as this is the foundation to improving people’s lives and to sustainable development.”


The development and integration of H’Mong and Vietnamese language content into the classroom covering gender equality, life skills, disaster preparedness, child rights, local culture and customs will be a significant step towards ensuring the safety of children and promoting their rights. “The project is expected to enable the children to receive more relevant teaching in their mother tongue, which will improve the likelihood of effective transition from pre-school into primary school and beyond, while also promoting understanding between ethnic groups in the population”, a representative from the Department of Education and Training, stated.