The Key to a Better Education for Minority Children in Lai Chau, Vietnam: Using the Mother Tongue at School & Child-Centered Learning.
Viet-Mong bilingual textbooks combined with child-centered learning methods form the backbone of the teaching model recently endorsed by the Department of Education and Training of Lai Chau Province for replication in all kindergartens and primary schools in the three poorest communes of the province. This is one of the main announcements to come out of the national workshop held as part of the project “Promoting inclusive and relevant early childhood care and education for ethnic minority and disadvantaged children in Lai Chau, Vietnam”. This project was developed and implemented by Aide et Action Vietnam and the Consultative Institute for Socio-Economic Development of Rural and Mountainous Areas (CISDOMA), with the European Union’s financial support.
For too long, language barriers along with ineffective teaching methods and the difficult economic situation of many families, have been contributing to the problem of ethnic minority children dropping out of school or having poor learning outcomes. To tackle this issue, Aide et Action and CISDOMA have been piloting a child-centered educational strategy integrating Viet-Mong bilingual materials into extra-curricular classes since 2016.
As daily life and traditions of the Mong ethnic people of Lai Chau have been richly reflected in the bilingual materials that were developed, the lessons have touched the Mong children’s feelings of love and pride for their life and culture. “As the lessons became more lively and enriching, I saw that the students became more interested in the classes that I taught. And as a consequence of this, the study results are much better.” – says Ms. Ngo Thi Hong Lam, a teacher from Nung Nang preschool in Tam Duong district, Lai Chau province.
The bilingual materials also strongly improved the children’s confidence and active studying skills – the child-centered teaching methods that were used encouraged the children to play a central role in the learning process, unlike in the traditional, passive ways of learning which are centered around the teacher. Remarkably, the school attendance rate increased from 96% in 2016 to 98% in 2018 in the project area. Realizing the positive result, Mr. Pham The Chinh, Head of the Primary Education Division of the Lai Chau Department of Education and Training said, “With the help of the project, the Department will replicate the teaching model in all school units in the province. The bilingual materials will be taught in their extra-curricular classes from the 2018 school year onwards.”
Due to the limited time available and the geographic scope of the project, its long-term impact has not been fully measured yet. However, Aide et Action has confirmed that it is their strategy to continue to evaluate and develop the model to ensure sustainable improvement of quality education for ethnic minority children. Mr. Savy Lach, Regional Director of Aide et Action Southeast Asia and China, confirmed: “Improving the quality of education and investment in early childhood care and education, especially enabling access to learning materials in their mother tongue remains our top priority. We will capitalize on best practices and valuable advocacy successes from Lai Chau, and widely disseminate and apply them to our programs with other ethnic minorities in Vietnam, as well as in the Southeast Asia and China region.”
Sixty delegates from the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, the National Assembly, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), relevant agencies, international organizations and civil society organizations participated in the workshop.
Aide et Action’s Director of Programmes in Vietnam, Ms. Tu Nguyen, at the closing workshop of its project with CISDOMA: “Promoting inclusive and relevant early childhood care and education for ethnic minority and disadvantaged children in Lai Chau, Vietnam”.