Better Schools for Ethnic Minority Children in Central Highlands
Earlier this year HealthEd completed and opened eleven elementary schools in the Central Highlands (Dak Lak and Kon Tum). This project aims at improving educational opportunities for children in ethnic minority communities in the Central Highlands and other rural areas in Vietnam. The project began in 2005 with funding from the Nippon Foundation and Asian Education Friendship Association (AEFA) of Japan. To date, the project has built 43 schools, each housing three to four classrooms.
VNAH’s school project gives priority to the rural, mountainous areas where large numbers of ethnic minorities reside. Although the Vietnamese government and other international donors have made significant strides in improving the education system in these rural areas, there is still an enormous need for classrooms for elementary and kindergarten students in remote districts. Children have to walk several hours to the nearest school; some study in temporary classrooms constructed of mud and straw. The lack of adequate classrooms and the poor condition of the makeshift schools contribute to the high drop-out rate in the ethnic minority communities. Many children fail to attend school at all.
In addition to building schools, the VNAH/HealthEd project helps the schools to establish linkages with schools in Japan. Students are encouraged to exchange letters and paintings with their Japanese counterparts. Occasionally children in Japan reciprocate by sending gifts and school supplies to children in Vietnam.