Save the Children Calls on to Improve Ethnic Minority Children’s Life in Vietnam

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Save the Children today launches a new three-year global campaign - Every Last Child - in an attempt to ensure that 15 million children worldwide have an equal opportunity to survive and benefit from access to healthcare, education and nutrition regardless of who they are or where they live.

The report by the organization reveals that an estimated 400 million children worldwide face discrimination, because of their gender, ethnicity or religion, a disability or simply because of where they live. The campaign calls on decision makers at the household, local, national and international levels to ensure barriers that prevent the poorest children from accessing life-saving services are eliminated.

In Vietnam, Save the Children calls on the government to ensure that ethnic minority children, some of the most disadvantaged children in the country, have better access to nutrition and education.

“While Vietnam has been seeing rapid economic growth and making impressive progress in child care and protection in the past years, ethnic minority children in the country have been facing a consistently large gap in nutrition and education in comparison with the majority group,” said Gunnar Andersen, Country Director of Save the Children in Vietnam. 

“We encourage the government to create a more inclusive economic development and reduce economic inequality, and improve social service quality in ethnic minority regions.”

The Vietnam Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2014 showed that 70.2% of ethnic minority children completed secondary education, while the rate for Kinh majority children was 94.4%. In 2012, the literacy rate among ethnic minority children aged 10 was 13% below their Kinh counterparts, at 84%.   

Surveys have also shown a striking gap in nutrition between the Kinh majority children and ethnic minority children. 14% of Kinh children at age 12 suffered from stunting in 2013, compared with 52.4% of their ethnic minority counterparts.  Less than 10% of children from ethnic minority groups have access to dairy products, while between 41% and 54% of ethnic majority children do. 

The disparity between the Kinh majority and ethnic minority children has kept widening as a result of the uneven economic growth distribution. By 2010 ethnic minorities accounted for 65 percent of the poorest 10 percent, up from 53 percent in 2006. 

Poverty among ethnic minority families has resulted in their children’s poor nutrition and education. In addition, in education, ethnic minority children face difficulties with language: While Vietnamese is the official language at schools, this is not the first language for many children of ethnic minority groups. In terms of nutrition, poor sanitation and limited knowledge of nutrition among families and health staff in remote areas have added to nutritional challenges in these areas.

Apart from calling on for more inclusive economic development and improving social service quality in ethnic minority regions, Save the Children recommends that Vietnam’s education sector create a flexible national curriculum that gives room to localizing the content and to integrate the mother tongue-based and multilingual approaches to the curriculum for pre-service and in-service education in pedagogy colleges.

In terms of nutrition, the organization encourages the government to build localized and customized nutrition plans for children in ethnic minority regions and to focus on dealing with stunting among ethnic minority children.

Save the Children is the world’s largest independent child-centered organization, working in the areas of Child Protection, Child Rights Governance, Education, Health and Nutrition, and Child Poverty. In Vietnam, in the last decade, Save the Children has supported over 4 million children to get a healthy start in life, receiving better education, and ensuring they were kept safe from violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation.