Category Archives: Vietnam

Vietnam still has more than 1.5 million illiterates

A class for illiterates in northern mountain Dien Bien Province’s Muong Nhe District.— Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam has more than 1.5 million illiterates between the ages of 15 and 60, an official from the education and training ministry has said.

Head of the MoET’s Continuous Education Department, Nguyen Cong Hinh, said all provinces and cities nationwide had achieved the national target of eliminating illiteracy in 2000, and had continued their universal education programme since then.

However, some localities neglected their duty to eliminate illiteracy and thus missed the target deadline in 2015.

The number of people attending literacy and post-literacy classes had decreased from 60,000 in the previous years to a little more than 28,000 in the 2014-2015 period.

Hinh said in some localities, the authorities were not really interested in eliminating illiteracy. The local people’s awareness of the issue was also very limited.

The teachers involved in the illiteracy elimination campaign were also unprofessional as they did not have a chance to attend training courses.

Some localities did not research and compile teaching materials suitable and specific to their learners.

Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Study Promotion Association Nguyen Tat Dong said illiteracy has become quite a serious issue, especially in the remote mountainous areas where its elimination was difficult, mainly because the people were too poor to focus on learning the Vietnamese language.

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Children surrounded by “rubbish” books

Vietnam, life skill, academic year, Education Publishing House

VietNamNet Bridge – Educators have expressed deep concern about children’s books with nonsensical content which are sold at many shops in the country.

Vietnamese parents like to buy books that teach life skills and are entertaining for their kids, because they believe modern children are stuffed with too much academic knowledge. And they have many choices as numerous such books have hit the market.

Mai Lan, a parent in Thanh Xuan district in Hanoi, said she panicked when reading ‘Do vui can nao’ (brainstorming quiz) from the Culture & Information Publishing House.

A question was raised in the book: “Why did a man die of drowning even though he tried to commit suicide by jumping off a building?” And the suggested answer was: “Because the street was inundated.”

Another question was: “How can a mother make a formula for her infant with just one toe?” The answer is “Waking up her husband with the toe, so that the husband gets up and does this.”

“These are quite nonsensical questions and answers,” she said. “I cannot understand why such rubbish books can go through censoring agencies and hit the market.”

Lan also pointed out a lot of other questions and answers which provide ‘anti-scientific’ and ‘anti-educational’ solutions.

“How do you measure the height of a big tree without having to climb into the tree?” The book ‘advised’ children to chop down the tree for easy measuring.

“Why is breast milk the best for infants? “Because breast milk does not go up in price.”

Hoang Thanh Hoa, a parent in Cau Giay district, said she was very disappointed about a book from the Fine Arts Publishing House.

“Whose teeth are the whitest?” “The black people’s” was the answer.

“It is a waste of money to buy such rubbish books,” she complained. “However, wasting money is not the biggest problem. More importantly, the lessons from the books will spoil children.”

“It is management agencies which have to take responsibility for the books,” she said, adding that no relevant agencies had expressed their opinion about the cases.

Dr. Nguyen Tung Lam, a renowned educator in Hanoi, commented that children were surrounded by numerous rubbish books.

“It is necessary to eliminate the books from the market and to establish strict censorship at publishing houses to be sure that such books cannot hit the market,” he said.

Dr. Vu Thu Huong, a lecturer at the Hanoi University of Education, said the situation was “worrying”.

The books with nonsensical content would spoil children, while parents nowadays are too busy to spend time to choose the right things for their children to read she said.

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How kids in Vietnam, other countries embark on extreme journeys to school (photos)

As the world marks the 48th annual International Literacy Day on Tuesday, have a look at how children in Vietnam and several Asian countries go to school in this photo feature provided by World Vision Vietnam.

Millions of children across Asia returned to school this month, pursuing their right to education. The new school year in Vietnam officially kicked off on September 5.

While many have schools in their own communities, others have to go on long and difficult journeys to access their education, which is a major challenge in Asia and the Pacific.

In remote villages, schools are often far away and difficult to reach. The distance from home to school is one of the reasons why 26.3 million children are out of school in Asia and the Pacific, according to UNESCO.

“On World Literacy Day, we are celebrating the children who embark on extreme, sometimes dangerous, journeys to school, so that they can learn and continue their education,” World Vision, a global relief and development organization, said.

Here is how kids in remote areas in Vietnam and some other Asian countries make it to pursue literacy.

Vietnam: Every day, Linh and her friends wake up at 4:30 in the morning to walk to school. It is a three-km journey from her house to school. She has to pass over several streams and steep slopes. In the flood season, the stream current is very dangerous. Photo: Truong Cong Thanh

VietnamLinh and her friends walk over a steep slope. In the rainy season, the slopes become slippery and dangerous, often causing them to fall down. Their school books get drenched too. Photo: Truong Cong Thanh

Cambodia: These two grade 3 students endure a four-km walk to school every day. By the time Sreyneang (right) reaches school, “[she] has been tired and [her] legs have been tired too.” Photo: Vanndeth Um

Myanmar: Aye Aye and her friends walk across a rice field on their long journey to school. Photo: Khaing Min Htoo

Indonesia: Melvi, a ten-year-old boy from a rural area in East Sumba, Indonesia, passes over a wide river to reach school before climbing the steep chalk cliff. Photo: Rena Tanjung

The Philippines: Jenel is one of hundreds of students who live in the mountain ranges of the Philippines. He treks two hours – up and down the hills and across a river – to walk from his sugar cane farming village to school. Photo: Mong Jimenez

India: Parmila, 8, and her friend Armu, both in third grade, walk across a desert in western India in order to reach school. Photo: Tiatemjen Jamir

September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO in 1965. It has been celebrated around the globe annually since 1966, with an aim to remind the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

The theme of the 2015 International Literacy Day is “Literacy and Sustainable Societies,” according to UNESCO.

World Vision, which is dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the cause of poverty, started working in Vietnam with emergency relief assistance in 1988 and opened an office in Hanoi in 1990.

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Helping many children turn the page

VietNamNet Bridge – Disadvantaged children in remote mountainous areas are seeing new worlds open thanks to more than 160,000 books donated to a project called Bookshelves for Entertainment and Education. 

Our turn: Students raise their hands to ask for new books at a primary school in the southern province of Binh Phuoc. They have shown keen interest in reading.

Our turn: Students raise their hands to ask for new books at a primary school in the southern province of Binh Phuoc. They have shown keen interest in reading.

Children from the remote mountainous provinces across Viet Nam are now able to access a new world of knowledge.

This is thanks to the more than 160,000 books donated to a project entitled Tu sach Giai Tri va Giao duc (Bookshelves and Libraries for Entertainment and Education).

Carrying the motto ‘Our small contribution today will significantly change the lives of children tomorrow!’, the project has established more than 800 libraries, including one in Ethiopia, for disadvantaged children in the past 15 years of its existence.

‘Entertainment and Education Bookshelves’ was initiated by Dr Ho Dac Duy and his friends, who were students of the Hue High School for the Gifted from 1961 to 1964.

Duy recalls that he came up with the idea of the project during a sightseeing tour of a border area in the southern province of Long An about 20 years ago, when he and his friends saw several 10-year-old children reading a torn comic book excitedly. The book had been sent from the city by one of the children’s mothers.

“We have been reading this book over and over again. It is so interesting,” said one of those children, which occupied Duy and his friends’ minds on the way home. The project was born then, with four initial members.

“We understand that books will open a new world for the children and give wings to their dreams. And we are proud to learn that every member of the project shares the same will,” says Duy.

Since 2009, the books have been handed over to and developed by a group of young volunteers, 40 of whom reside in Ho Chi Minh City, while 10 live in other provinces. As its name suggests, ‘Entertainment and Education Bookshelves’ aims to fulfill the mission that “everyone must have opportunities to read books”, or to offer poor communities throughout Viet Nam with wholesome means of entertainment and useful sources of knowledge.

“I accidentally learned about the project after reading an article about it,” says Tran Thi Kim Thoa, the current director and one of the first members of the project.

Having grown up in the poor rural areas of the southern province of Binh Phuoc, Thoa clearly understands the difficulties that rural students encounter, especially in the thirst for books for both education and entertainment purposes.

The wish to enrich the spiritual life of poor children encouraged her to apply as a volunteer in the project. The success of the first trip to give books in the southern province of Dong Thap has significantly raised Thoa’s enthusiasm and determination for that meaningful activity.

According to Thoa, the project has received great contribution from the community.

“We received support from our friends at first, then from several bookstores and publishing houses, as well as domestic and international sponsors. They have helped us with finance, books and even advise us to increase the quality of the project.”

Additionally, ‘Entertainment and Education Bookshelves’ has drawn the participation of several young people from various career backgrounds and of different ages, who contribute their own skills to implement successfully important programmes such as “1,000 ambassadors to contribute books to Viet Nam’s rural children”.

“Moreover, I think that the sincerity and efforts of all the project members have touched the humane hearts of the society, which explains why we have received sustainable support in the past 15 years,” Thoa says.

Stacking them up: Young members of the Bookshelves for Entertainment and Education Project arrange donated books in their store. — Photos courtesy of Nguyen Thi Kim Thoa

Stacking them up: Young members of the Bookshelves for Entertainment and Education Project arrange donated books in their store. — Photos courtesy of Nguyen Thi Kim Thoa

Bookshelves or libraries were set up in local schools at first. However, difficulties arose when the students could not access the books as there were no book managers.

Then the project members came up with the idea of asking former teachers to open and manage free bookshelves in their homes, which is surprisingly effective. The number of young readers is rising constantly, and the former teachers are also happy to introduce interesting books to their students.

Each bookshelf consists of about 400 books, classified clearly into 6 book groups including soft skills, literature, history and geographics, comics, health care and horticulture knowledge.

The whole team has also collected several unforgettable memories in the past five years, especially regarding the voluntary work trip to the remote Dang commune in the southern province of Quang Nam.

“The commune is located in the mountains, 40km from town, and seems to be isolated from the outside world,” Thoa recalls.

“The students of three classes in the local school were grouped together and taught by only one teacher. They were a bit nervous and shy on seeing us enter the class to introduce the library and give them several books to warm up. ”

Then the students were very surprised to hold new books in their hands, and became absorbed in discovering the new world in front of their eyes. They even bravely asked the project members about the characters in the books.

“I suddenly realised that it was the first time they learned about the ocean, rivers and boats floating on the sea. They ventured into a whole new wide world with the books in their hands, from which their dreams might germinate and be realised,” says Thoa.

“The small library has finally been set up after days of anxious waiting,” says Nguyen Thuy Tien, a book keeper.

“We were full of so many feelings and were lost in a children’s book paradise.

“We would like to thank the project ‘Entertainment and Education Bookshelves’ for building a bridge, connecting our local children with books.

“Seeing them absorbed in reading books, I just hope that they will maintain that excitement for reading and form a reading habit as soon as they enter primary schools.

“The next step is to develop those small libraries so that they can truly become ‘libraries of dreams’ where the children can finish drawing the pictures of their own dreams,” Tien says.


In Vietnam, teacher puts bookcases on trees to encourage students to read

A teacher in central Vietnam has come up with a special idea to encourage his students to read by putting books in bookcases installed on trees around their school’s campus.

Students at Truong Son Elementary School sitting and reading books around a bookcase on a tree on their campus.

Students at Truong Son Elementary School sitting and reading books around a bookcase on a tree on their campus.

Nguyen Duc Lanh, principal of the Truong Son Elementary School in the mountainous town of Truong Son in Quang Binh province’s Quang Ninh District, has installed five bookcases around trees on his school’s campus since last December.

Lanh said most students at the school are from the Van Kieu minority group and many of them face very difficult circumstances.

The books are bought out of the school’s teachers’ pockets and donations, and new books are usually added at the end of each month.

The school also put benches under the trees so that students can easily take books from the bookcases, which look like bird nests, and sit on them to read.

The bookcases have been well-received by students in the school.

“Since we have had the bookcases, I read books from there whenever we have break time,” Ho Thi Linh Nga, a fifth grader, said. “My favorite kinds are books on animals and comics.”

“First and second graders aren’t good at reading so they often ask us to read for them,” she added. “They’re really into it.”

The school is planning to call on people to donate more books for students.

“I wish every tree in the school would have a bookcase like this,” principal Lanh excitedly said. “The whole campus will be full of books.”


Regional overview: East Asia and the Pacific

The past decade has seen mixed progress towards Education for All (EFA) in East Asia and the Pacific.1 More children are participating in pre-school education, many countries have achieved universal primary education (UPE) and more are moving from primary school to secondary education. Gender parity has been achieved at the primary level in a majority of countries and adult literacy rates are improving. However, challenges remain. The Pacific subregion has seen a 7% decline in primary enrolment rates, and 7.9 million children are not enrolled in school in the region as a whole. Some 105 million adults are still illiterate and levels of learning achievement are low in many countries. East Asia and the Pacific spends a lower share of national income on education than the world average. On the other hand, external aid to basic education has increased in recent years, despite stagnation in overall levels.

UNESCO Regional overview: East Asia and the Pacific

Goal 2: Universal primary education Over the past decade, progress towards UPE has been uneven across East Asia and the Pacific. While many countries in the region have relatively high primary enrolment rates, some are registering increasing numbers of children not enrolled in schooling. Progress towards UPE is limited. From 1999 to 2008, nearly 30 million fewer children enrolled in primary education in the region, partly due to declining fertility rates in some large countries. The regional primary adjusted net enrolment ratio (ANER)2 remained about the same over the decade and stood at 95% in 2008. However, the Pacific subregion is moving away from the UPE goal, as its primary ANER declined from 90% to 84% between 1999 and 2008. Progress towards UPE was particularly marked in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Tonga, where the primary ANERs increased by five to eleven percentage points between 1999 and 2008. In Tonga, the indicator increased from 88% to 99%. The situation remains critical in several countries, including the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, all with ANERs below 80% (Figure 2). Numbers of children out of school are declining, but at varying speeds. Some 7.9 million children of primary school age in East Asia and the Pacific – 61% of them boys – were not enrolled in school in 2008, down by nearly 3 million since 1999.

Progress in recent years has been particularly remarkable. The number of out-of-school children increased by an annual average of 203,000 between 1999 and 2004, but then declined substantially, with reductions of nearly 1 million per year between 2004 and 2008. Some countries with large out-of-school populations, including the Philippines, saw their rate of progress slip over time. The out-of-school number in the Philippines fell by nearly 23,000 per year on average from 1999 to 2004, but by only 16,000 annually from 2004 to 2008. By contrast, progress has accelerated in some countries, including the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, in recent years. Many children in the region will remain out of school in 2015. Trend analysis can provide plausible scenarios for the numbers of children out of school in 2015. In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a continuation to 2015 of the trend from 1999 to 2008 would see the country’s out-of-school number fall by 4.4% to some 135,000 by 2015. The out-of-school number in the Philippines would be roughly unchanged at 961,000 in 2015 based on the 1999–2008 trend, but the country’s recent slowing in progress towards UPE means a continuation of the more recent 2004–2008 trend would lead to an increase to just over 1 million.



Starting school at the right age is a challenge in some countries. Getting children into primary school at the right age, ensuring that they progress smoothly and facilitating completion are key elements to advance towards UPE. Many countries in the region are struggling to get children into primary school at the official starting age. In eight of the ten countries in the region with data, less than 70% of children starting school were of official primary school age in 2008, and the figure went as low as 38% in Vanuatu in 2007. However, rapid change is possible. In Cambodia, the share of children starting school at the official age increased from 61% in 1999 to 79% in 2008. Progress in survival to the last grade of primary school is mixed. Once children are enrolled at the right age, the challenge is to get them through school. While more than 92% of children starting primary school reached the last grade in East Asia in 2007, school survival remained an important issue in some countries, including Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic with survival rates below 70%. Nevertheless, several countries made significant progress in improving survival rates. In particular, the rates in Fiji and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have risen by twelve percentage points each since 1999. Prospects for entry, progression and completion of primary school are closely linked to household circumstances. Children who are poor, rural or from ethnic or linguistic minorities face higher risks of dropping out. In Cambodia, completion rates for the richest 20% of the population are more than three times as high as those of the poorest quintile. Tackling school dropout requires action on several fronts. Dropout profiles vary enormously by country. In Myanmar, with a first-grade dropout rate of 12%, and the Philippines at nearly 13%, children have trouble negotiating their way through the early grades. High dropout rates in the last grade in other countries, such as Indonesia and Vanuatu, are associated with late entry to school. Evidence from many countries shows that the risk of primary school dropout increases with age, thought the strength of the association varies. Lowering the risk of dropout requires a broad set of policies aimed at reducing underlying vulnerabilities, including poverty-related factors and problems linked to the quality of education.