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Vietnam - School boarding houses ensure local ethnic minority children complete their education

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The Son Ky school

By Nguyen Xuan Vu, Plan Vietnam

MONIC, Vietnam, November 4 2009 - Dinh Thi Ha, a girl from Monic village in Vietnam, faces greater difficulties than many attending school. Her village lies in Son Ky, a mountainous commune in Son Ha district. The ethnic minority community is very poor and relies on rice cultivation and forestry agriculture for their limited income. Each day, it takes Dinh Thi Ha and her schoolmates six hours each way to walk to school along dirt tracks and across hazardous waterways. The physical effort of making the perilous trip takes a greater toll on girls at the school. As a result,16 to 29 per cent of children, mostly girls, drop out of secondary school each year, choosing to stay at home and help their parents on the land.

In order to ensure children in remote communities stay in school and receive their right to a proper education, Plan Vietnam in Quang Ngai province supported the community in the construction of a boarding area.  Funded by the Lotte Corporation in partnership with Plan, the project involved building a boarding school with 12 rooms and a kitchen enabling approximately 100 children to board at the school. Technical support was provided by Plan Vietnam staff with combined efforts from the local community and relevant agencies ensuring true ownership of the project remained with the local community.

On June 22, 2009 the boarding houses were officially handed over to the Son Ky community to the enthusiasm of students. “I am very excited because next school year, my friends and I don’t mind travelling to school anymore; we have a place to stay,” said Dinh Thi Ha, a girl in class 7A from Monic village.

Teachers have noticed significant changes as well. The project has promoted the importance of education in the village and children are coming to school with a renewed vigour to learn. “This is a fantastic opportunity for the children whose houses are far away from school to continue their education,” said Mr. Nguyen Van Binh, headmaster of Son Ky secondary school.

Following the opening of the boarding houses, 63 students immediately registered to stay. The percentage of students dropping out has reduced dramatically to less than 5 per cent for the coming school year. Furthermore, the boarding house construction has drawn great attention and support from local organisations including the district and commune People’s Committee. The Committee now provides 15 kg of rice and 144,000 Vietnamese Dong (US $8) per month to each student. The Son Ky People’s Committee has committed to carrying out necessary security for the safety of students staying at the boarding house of Son Ky secondary school. Furthermore, they have mobilised local people to plant trees around the school to create a healthy environment for the children.

In addition to technical support, Plan Vietnam has supported the school by creating a stimulating environment in which the children can learn with child-friendly chairs, tables and books for a library. The school yard now includes a playground and sport equipment for the students. Community leaders and teachers have participated in training courses to effectively manage and maintain the boarding school. Students, especially those who board at the school, have received life skills training so that they feel more confident about staying away from home. Parents have also received information about the boarding school to ensure that they know their children are being well looked after. 

The Son Ky school boarding house construction project has attracted the participation and support of not only authorities, but also parents and community members. It is planned that this successful model with be replicated in other remote areas allowing for more ethnic minority children to reach their full potential. 



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