How Save the Children and the IKEA Foundation are protecting children’s rights in Vietnam

Pham Thi Hai Yen, Child Protection Project Officer for Save the Children Vietnam, writes about the challenges vulnerable children in Vietnam face and how the charity is addressing them.

Despite years of economic growth and development, children in Vietnam continue to face significant violations of their rights. These violations include exploitation, abuse and neglect. The growing disparities defy the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. There are a lack of effective mechanisms for law enforcement, inadequate public awareness of children’s rights and a lack of practical implementation in schools and communities.

Teachers and students of Hoang Van Thu Primary School, Ho Chi Minh City enjoy a painting activity
Teachers and students of Hoang Van Thu Primary School, Ho Chi Minh City enjoy a painting activity

In the education sector, migrant children are a harshly marginalised group, with limited access to school. Key challenges to protecting children and providing a quality education include: a lack of child friendly learning environments; the frequent use of corporal punishment; no mechanisms for children to report abuse; discrimination and bullying; and inadequate policies and anti-corporal punishment legislation.

A signing campaign on ending violence against children with the participation of teachers, students and parents
A signing campaign on ending violence against children with the participation of teachers, students and parents

Since 2013 Save the Children, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, has been implementing a project called: “Improved protection and quality education for migrant and other marginalised and vulnerable children in Ho Chi Minh City”. This is funded by the Soft Toys for Education campaign. Through this project, Save the Children promotes co-operation with district and city-level education and social authorities. It improves access to quality education, works towards non-tolerance of violence against children in schools and society, and strengthens child protection systems in all settings.

Parents join with their children in a painting activity at Phuoc Thanh Primary School, Ho Chi Minh City
Parents join with their children in a painting activity at Phuoc Thanh Primary School, Ho Chi Minh City

The project has set up a mechanism for children to report abuse, discrimination and bullying in both schools and communities. It also promotes children’s participation in governance and decision-making processes as a means of addressing exploitation and abuse, and prioritising their best interests.

Students of An Nhon Secondary School, Ho Chi Minh City dance in a "Child-friendly Day" event
Students of An Nhon Secondary School, Ho Chi Minh City dance in a “Child-friendly Day” event