Schooling for the most underprivilidged children is the number one priority for AVE association.
Education is one of the main conditions for a good development of girls and boys in order for them to achieve their full potential. It is provided by school and acts as one of the main levers to stop the cycle of poverty. Sending children to school means giving them the opportunity to choose the job they wish to have ; it means offering them the possibility to build a future.
School is a place for socialization as well as a safe haven. According to UNICEF, children who do not have access to quality education are more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and illness.
At school, girls and boys get at least one meal a day ; for some of them it is the only one. It is an indispensable element for, in Vietnam, about one third of the children under the age of 5 suffer with chronic malnutrition, especially in the rural areas.
Educating girls is fundamental
Sending girls to school seems essential to contain poverty and break its transmission from one generation to the other. An educated girl will get wages 25% higher than one who is illiterate. She will contribute to the economic and democratic development of her country. Being more independent, she will have children later and will also encourage them to go to school.
The Right to Education as recognized in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child
Education is one of the main rights of the youngests as recognized in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;(…) Article 28 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the the General Assembly or the United Nations. That international bill introduces the concept of the higher interest of the child and Vietnam was the first Asian state to sign it.
Rural and mountain areas still too neglected
Nevertheless, the country must still face many challenges to offer each child a good education. The disparites between areas and ethnic groups are still characteristic. The rural areas of the Mekong Delta, of the high plateaux or of the mountains, often isolated, are particularly affected by this phenomenon.
Among a population of 93 million inhabitants, 65,3% live in a rural area, away from the big cities. And half of the active male and female Vietnamese workers are in agriculture. After the opening-up of the country in the 1990’s, the economic situation got much better. Nevertheless, according to the World Bank, 13% of the population still lives below the international poverty line (1.25 dollars per day).
12% Vietnamese children are vulnerable
In Vietnam, there are 21 million children under the age of 15. Among them, 3.4 million, that is to say 12% of the child population, were considered as vulnerable in 2010 (orphans, abandoned, sick or handicaped children). In 2006 and according to the UNICEF organisation, 40% of those who lived in the country were considered as poor whereas only 10% of those who lived in cities were considered as such.
Nowadays, 93% of the Vietnamese are literate and 96% go to primary school. Still, many children do not finish their school cycle. It is even more difficult for those who come from ethnic minorities : in 2006 only 60% finished their 5 first years at school. All in all, 65% of the children get education after the age of 11. They are often compeled to go to work in order to help their parents. Selling lotery tickets, working in the fields, the rice fields or the tips are the most frequent jobs.
Schools that are difficult to get to
In Vietnam, schooling is officially compulsory and free. However, going to school is quite complicated in some rural areas as the children have to drive many kilometres to get there. And if there are any public transport they are far from free. Also, going to school means extra expenses which the families cannot afford : school supplies, school meals and extra tutoring. It is believed that 16% of the children between 5 and 14 years old are obliged to go to work.
Because of the lack of schools and teachers, most classes function with the double-shift system : children either go to school in the morning or in the afternoon.