VietNamNet Bridge – Ethnic minority children taught in both their native language and Vietnamese are more active and confident and fare better in educational settings, found a joint study by the Ministry of Education and Training and UNICEF presented at the organisations’ conference in Ha Noi last Thursday.
A class at Pu Dao Primary School in Sin Ho District in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau. Teaching both their native language and Vietnamese to ethnic minority children will be extended across the country.
While Viet Nam has raised the rates of primary school enrolment and completion to 96 per cent and 86 per cent respectively, disparities remain between the Kinh majority and ethnic minority children in terms of both speaking Vietnamese and general communication skills, according to the Research Centre for Ethnic Minorities under the Viet Nam Institute for Educational Sciences.
Nguyen Thi Nghia, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, said that the success of the joint study showed that the bilingual education programme should be extended to other localities.
“Children in the programme always enjoy going to school. At home, they are confident and can talk about various interesting topics and sing songs in both languages,” said Tan Thi Gia, chairwoman of Lao Chai Commune in the northern province of Lao Cai .
Lo A Mang, a second-grade student from the commune, is a prime example.
“I like to go to school because I can learn both in Mong and in Vietnamese. I have a lot of fun in school and learn a lot. I would like to be a teacher when I grow up so I can teach other young children the Mong language,” he said.
At the conference, UNICEF’s acting representative in Viet Nam, Hartmut Pfortner. suggested the programme be redesigned so that other provinces and partner organisations can replicate it.
Additionally, he said, local authorities should share their knowledge with a wide range of strategic partners and legal agencies.
The conference was held by the Ministry of Education and Training in co-ordination with UNICEF to celebrate International Mother Language Day.