Interview Deputy Minister of Education & Training Dang Huynh Mai

Nation strives to meet target of educating disadvantaged kids

Can you define the term "children in difficult circumstances" and can you outline whether there are any children in difficult circumstances in Viet Nam?

In terms of education, children in difficult circumstances are children who do not have, or have less opportunity to access basic education, or in other words, they have less opportunity to come to school, they face the problems of repeating a class, giving up school or find it hard to get normal results from studies.

Those children are normally living in remote areas, ethnic minorities or children of poor families. They can be children with disabilities, weak health or no home. They may also be children involved in crimes or addicts of drugs or alcohol, or even children affected by social vices or Agent Orange.

Using this definition, then, we still have children with difficult circumstances living in Viet Nam’s cities.
In school year 2003-04, the rate of ethnic minority students accounted for 15 per cent of the country’s students. The higher the grade is, the lower the ethnic minority rate becomes, because the number of children entering school become less, while the number of children giving up school or repeating a class is higher

The main reasons for poor performance are that their families face economic difficulties, they lack Vietnamese language and the number of teachers and conditions for education are limited.

Although the Government has had many prioritised policies to develop education for ethnic regions, creating support conditions for local children, especially girls, the gap in gender is still big and increases each grade

Besides this, the number of children with difficult circumstances entering school at the correct age is still low.

Integration into schools for children who have o­nly minor disabilities has also not been conducted properly.

Education for children with disabilities and conditions for this type of education have not been paid much attention to

But why has Viet Nam still said it has made achievements in education for children with difficult circumstances?

In the commitment to the international community in education and education for children with difficult

circumstances, Viet Nam has instituted active solutions to implement those commitments, including the Convention o­n the Rights of the Child, the joint declaration o­n universal education, the Dakar


Declaration and the Millennium Declaration.

Many policies and strategies relating to education for children with difficult circumstances have been released and implemented.

For example, the national action plan for Vietnamese children in 2001-10 has set the target to ensure 80 per cent of children with difficult circumstances will finish primary school, the remaining will finish third grade.

The State has also regulated the free education for children with difficult circumstances by providing solutions to mobilise children with disabilities, orphans and homeless children to come back to schools through vocational training programmes or non-regular classes, opening anti-illiteracy and charity classes for them

The programme of concreting schools and classrooms also aims at improving infrastructure for schools in remote areas, which will help children in difficult circumstances.

There have been many models for those children which are suitable to different regions and children such as the day-boarding model established by people, combined classes, classrooms built in mountainous villages and boarding schools.

The attention of the Government and the support of organisations and individuals at home and abroad have made great achievements in education for children in difficult circumstances, which have shortened the distance of opportunities to access education among regions and ethnic groups, improved the gender rate to enter school and created chances for children with disabilities to attend school more

How do you think the country can eradicate the difference in opportunities to access education between children with difficult circumstances and other children?

This is the problem that has concerned us a lot. The difficulties here come from many sides, including parents.

In Viet Nam, parents do not always say much about their children and they think in moral ways rather than social and biological ways

We are o­n the way of renewal and development, so there must be difficulties to face. However, we have tried our best to solve them

Minister Nguyen Minh Hien has decided to establish a steering board for children with disabilities. This board has decided to implement different models so that children with difficult circumstances and disabilities can go to school

We have planned to produce regulations o­n education for children with disabilities, selecting the best teachers who teach children with disabilities.

The project of primary education for students with difficult circumstances is expected to create favourable conditions to improve this field.

Source: Vietnam News