Vietnam: Aide et Action supports the return to school of marginalized children

Photo credit: Aide et Action Vietnam

While COVID-19 and natural disasters threaten the most vulnerable populations, Aide et Action distributes emergency food aid and conducts health and hygiene education activities in North-West Vietnam.

Vietnam has been praised by the international media for its rapid response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the containment of the country from January 2020. After three months of school closures, the country is one of the first nations to reopen its classrooms. While the resumption of education may signal a further step towards post-pandemic normalisation, the country's most vulnerable populations are still affected by the crisis and other issues. In the provinces of Hoa Binh, Lau Cai and Lai Chau, located in the north-west of Vietnam, Aide et Action has implemented a number of activities to support people marginalized by poverty or geographical distance.

Weather conditions pose an additional threat

In Da Bac district, recent heavy rains, storms and landslides have exacerbated an already precarious situation for residents living below or near the poverty line. COVID-19's preventive emergency measures, such as travel and trade restrictions in recent months, have resulted in a significant reduction in the livelihoods of people in the district, particularly in the communes of Tien Phong, Doan Ket and Vay Nua where we are working.

To support people facing increased levels of poverty or food insecurity, Aide et Action distributed 5,400 kg of rice to 360 families in Da Bac district on 11 May. This was a timely support at a time when their houses had been damaged by the storms. Families were wondering how they could repair their homes and provide for their families at the same time.

Hygiene education

As children go back to school, Aide et Action emphasizes the importance of hand washing and health and hygiene education. On May 12, we provided 1,500 soaps to 750 primary school students (including 45% girls) and 61 bottles of disinfectant to primary schools in Da Bac district.

But these facilities are not enough, children also need to know how to use them effectively. To support our health and hygiene education, we also distributed leaflets on handwashing and preventive measures to be taken at home and at school to prevent disease.

Additional tasks for teachers

On 11 May, children in kindergarten and primary school went back to school. While the majority of pupils were delighted to be back in the classroom, seeing and playing with their friends, their teachers were concerned that the pupils had forgotten what they had learned before.

In addition to getting children up to speed, teachers are also responsible for conducting health and safety checks. The return to school brings with it new guidelines: temperatures must be checked, hands must be washed more frequently and hygiene education must be provided on a weekly basis.

Aide et Action is focusing on capacity building for teachers. We believe that as education returns to normal after the pandemic, teachers will be an integral part of promoting the health, development and well-being of every child. We will also continue to support the teachers we work with to develop the skills and tools they have and will need to meet the needs of their students.

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