How Save the Children is helping ethnic minority children in Vietnam become more confident in school

Next up: A trip to Vietnam! To start us off, we have the wonderful post by Mau Lan Phuong, the project officer working on a project we fund through Save the Children in Vietnam. Come back later for posts written by our IKEA co-workers!

Mau Lan Phuong, project officer at Save the Children Vietnam
Mau Lan Phuong, project officer at Save the Children Vietnam

We’re welcoming IWitness Global Citizens to Vietnam to visit some fantastic projects funded by the IKEA Foundation through the Soft Toys for Education campaign.  Let me introduce you to one of the projects we will visit.

Early in the morning, a local teacher took me through the mountainous path to reach Pa Nang primary school, which is 18 km distant from Dakrong district center, Quang Tri province, 600 km from the capital city Hanoi. For the team working on the IKEA Foundation-funded project, this is the final trip to the district to evaluate the project’s success before it ends.

The project started in 2009 to support the children of the Van Kieu ethnic minority, who struggled at regular schools because of language barriers. The project has implemented different interventions in the district to improve the quality of teaching and learning. We have focused on improving teacher’s skills through training them about active learning methodologies, second-language teaching techniques and professional teachers’ meetings.

We all felt a mixture of feelings—eagerness to explore the project impacts on the local beneficiaries, and the pity of leaving. Van Kieu ethnic children welcomed us with warm, bright eyes and shy smiles. My first impression about the school after three years of running the project was that the children are much more confident and sociable. During the class observation, the children were given more chances to work individually and in pairs, and to express their ideas in front of the class. They were encouraged to answer questions and received the teacher’s compliments and comments from their peers.

This is an encouraging change compared to the mono-lecturing lessons in the past years, in which the children passively listened to the teacher. Teachers have made real efforts to apply second language teaching methods and to conduct professional teachers’ meetings. Instead of judging the teachers, now the meetings focus on the children’s learning activities to help them learn better.

After the class observation, instead of conducting an interview with the children, I organised a forum with ice-breaking games and group activities, giving the children the opportunity to talk. The children’s timidity gradually disappeared, replaced by exciting discussions. They expressed their strong interest in going to school, where they not only learn but also have fun through extracurricular activities. Their bright smiles and sweet voices still fill my mind on the way back.

The IKEA Foundation’s support has made it possible to create change in these children’s lives. Together we are transforming lives.

Photo Intro blog Vietnam- project

    Juli Riegler