June 2017 was marked as one big step forward for children’s rights in Vietnam. The Minstry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs launched an Action Month for Children, focusing on “Implementing the Law on Children and Prevention of Violence against Children”.
The Children’s Law, which came into force on 1 June this year, strengthened the government’s efforts in ensuring the basic rights of each and every child are respected. Nonetheless, child rights violations still exist at school and community level. This might be due to difficulties in enforcing the law and a lack of public awareness on child rights.
Key challenges in protecting children include a lack of child-friendly learning environments, frequent use of corporal punishment and the fact that there is no mechanism for reporting abuse, discrimination and bullying. Anti-corporal punishment legislation and policies are also deficient.
Save the Children is working in close partnership with the IKEA Foundation on the project “Improved Protection and Quality Education for Migrant and other Marginalised and Vulnerable Children in Ho Chi Minh City”. The project involves cooperating with district and city level education and social authorities in enhancing access to quality education and working towards non-tolerance of violence against children in schools and communities. It also strengthens child protection systems in all settings.
The most critical approach—positive discipline—has been incorporated in 16 schools in Ho Chi Minh City in the first phase of the project (2013-2016). This method, which involves ending corporal punishment, giving children praise and paying attention to good behaviour, has directly benefitted 4,333 children and 2,990 adults so far. Benefits include giving children more confidence and reducing violence between children in schools.
The second phase of this project (2016-2019) will expand to 50 schools. This will mainly focus on migrant children who face challenges accessing school due to not having the necessary registration papers, as well as a lack of clarity on the official protocol for obtaining these documents. All these efforts are aiming at promoting a quality learning environment, enhancing relationships between teachers and students and, to some extent, helping reduce the school dropout rate.