How we are protecting children’s rights in Vietnam’s schools

In June, the Vietnamese government’s Action Month for Children will focus on: “A healthy, safe life for children in the digital world”. Following the success of last year’s Action Month, this will enhance the government’s efforts to protect children through Vietnam’s Child Law, which came into force last year. It will support every child to attain the basic rights stipulated by the law.

Photo by Save the Children

Even with this progress, child rights violations and negligence remain among the big issues facing children at school and in the community. Migrant children, in particular, face a high risk of abuse and difficulties in accessing quality education. Corporal punishment is still being practised in schools. What lies behind these issues are the lack of parental knowledge about children’s rights and child protection, lack of child-friendly learning environments in schools, frequent use of corporal punishment and no mechanisms for reporting abuse, discrimination and bullying. Deficient policies and anti-corporal punishment legislation also contribute to these problems.

Save the Children has been implementing the project “Improved Protection and Quality Education for Migrant and other Marginalised and Vulnerable Children in Ho Chi Minh City” in partnership with the IKEA Foundation since 2013. We are working  with district and city educational and social authorities to seek solutions to the problems mentioned above. The project mainly aims to improve access to quality education, to work towards a non-tolerance of violence against children in schools and society, and to strengthen child protection systems. Positive discipline has been introduced to schools as an alternative to traditional corporal punishment. This means giving children positive comments, taking better care of them and treating them in a more rights-based way.

As a continuous process after the first phase (2013-2016), the second phase of the project (2016-2019) focuses more on migrant children, who are the most marginalised group. These children face challenges in accessing school because they do not have the necessary registration papers and there is a lack of clarity on the official protocol for obtaining these documents.

Save the Children is enhancing teaching skills and providing child-friendly learning environments in schools. We are also organising children’s core groups and increasing knowledge and skills on reporting violence, abuse, discrimination and bullying in schools and communities.

The number of schools benefiting from the project will increase from 16 in Phase I to 50 primary and secondary schools in Phase II, in and around Ho Chi Minh City. The number of children who have directly benefited to date is 24,792, exceeding our target of 23,000. This includes children trained as part of the core groups, children attending regular communications events, children (both in school and communities) receiving counselling services and children receiving emergency support.

Photo by Save the Children
Photo by Save the Children