In Vietnam’s Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Hoa Binh districts, Aide et Action is working to improve the quality of early childhood care and education for ethnic minority and disadvantaged children.
Only 68% of ethnic minority children in Vietnam complete primary school compared to 91% of ethnic majority Kinh children. One of the barriers preventing children from receiving a quality education is language, as Vietnamese is the official language used in schools regardless of children’s mother tongue. Other barriers include poor teaching quality, limited parenting knowledge and skills, poor pre-school infrastructure and facilities and high rates of malnutrition among children under six years old.
To address some of these barriers we are training local community members and parents on the skills and knowledge needed to support their children’s development. While participating in a nutrition component of our project, preparing school meals, twenty-three-year-old Giang Thi A, known as A, took it upon herself to start helping local teachers with the preparation of learning materials and interpreting the Viet – Mong languages in class. Recognizing her initiative, the school’s management board selected her to become a teaching assistant and receive teacher training.
Since completing her training, A has been going to class every day to help teachers prepare equipment and learning materials, decorate the learning environment, translate Vietnamese to Mong for students, share stories and teach the Mong language to the teachers. Engaging and employing local people for teaching assistance is an effective way to overcome some educational challenges in the region, especially in villages where most of the students are Mong ethnic, and do not understand or speak the usual language of instruction, Vietnamese.
“Aide et Action’s project has brought positive change to my life” says A: I feel happy when teaching the students, including my own daughter”. A’s new position in the classroom is a win for all involved. Not only do the children experience the benefits of having a teaching assistant who can speak their language, but it also stimulates parents to engage more in school life and participate in the project’s activities, such as the guidance we provide in child nutrition and healthcare. And of course, it brings great change to new teaching assistants like A, not to mention the teachers who are getting the much-needed help in class.
Motivated to strengthen and improve community knowledge and skills, A is also advocating with other parents for quality Early Child Care and Education and engaging them in activities and discussions about parenting and children’s development. That way they are able to take better care of their children better”, A adds. Capacity building for parents is at core of our project work and we are delighted to see this increasing the engagement of teachers/schools and local communities to bring about positive changes in early learning and development of children, both at school and at home