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Viet Nam: Schooling Ethnic Minority Girls - 2010
Distance to school is a significant barrier to participation in upper secondary schools for many ethnic minority girls living in remote areas. For reasons of safety and security parents are reluctant to send girls long distances to school. Combined with distance, the lack of sanitation facilities, appropriate curriculum, gender-sensitive textbooks, and career guidance are also factors that discourage girl’s participation in upper secondary education. Ethnic minority parents living in remote areas do not always see the relevance of upper secondary schooling for girls. To tackle these access, equity, and quality issues, the Viet Nam Upper Secondary Education Development Project has been supporting the Government in 22 provinces to build more schools, classrooms, and boarding facilities in underserved areas; improve the quality of teaching; provide career guidance to students and make the curriculum more relevant.
Nearly 2000 classrooms have been constructed. Schools were built close to ethnic minority communities to address the issue of proximity and physical access for girls. In the 22 disadvantaged areas schools were built closer to areas where ethnic minorities were living. Boarding facilities, libraries, science laboratories, and computer rooms were also been built. The construction and upgrading of classrooms has resulted in additional school spaces and improved the learning environment for all students. In areas where girls were under-represented, these new facilities built closer to the communities with additional student places have led to 7% (20,495) increase in girls enrolments in these provinces. In one schools visited in Hoa Binh province, school authorities reported that the construction of new classrooms had increased school enrolments including the enrolment of girls because it had substantially reduced the distance required by students to travel to school.
Aside from building classrooms and boarding facilities, the project is focusing on improving the quality of teaching through training and curriculum development. More than 50,000 teachers and curriculum developers have been trained. Overall women’s participation in training was high with women comprising up to 70% of participants in some cases. In total 33,762 female teachers (66%) and 17,382 male teachers (34%) were trained.
More than 5,000 girls were provided with access to vocational centers where they received career orientation and advice. Female and male teachers were trained to provide career orientation advice to students. Both girls (2,925) and boys (2,075) received vocational education training.
As part of its IEC program, the project provided 90,000 copies of a schoolgirl’s handbook for female students in selected provinces. The handbook provided information on gender equality, international instruments such as CEDAW and laws in Viet Nam; information about sex, marriage, HIV, prostitution, women’s healthcare, and pregnancy; and included folk songs, traditional poems, short stories, and Vietnamese history and geography. Some of the girls interviewed who had read the handbook said that it was very useful. The project also developed a TV documentary film about an ethnic minority girl overcoming difficulties to do well in school.
At a more strategic level, the construction of schools and boarding facilities closer to remote communities enabling increased participation of girls could lead to changing attitudes toward girls’ schooling. Special measures (such as the construction of toilets and safe boarding facilities for girls) will also send important messages to families regarding the importance of equal access to education for ethnic minority girls that could be expected to have broader impacts in the family and community over the medium to longer term. Revisions to curriculum and textbooks from a gender and women’s rights perspective, the provision of gender equality materials to teachers, distribution of gender equality handbooks to school girls, and vocational and careers advice to girls and boys may lead to positive impacts on attitudes to women’s and girls’ rights in the household and the community. There is considerable evidence that the provision of secondary education to girls can have a range of positive empowerment effects, particularly where other legal and institutional factors are in place.
*The study is based on the ADB Gender Equality Results in ADB Projects: Viet Nam Country Report, 2010.