• Theme: Education
  • Key donors: SC Hong Kong, SC Italy, SC Korea, DFAT, tesa, SC Johnson and SCUS through Child Sponsorship Program
  • Local partners: Education authorities at all levels
  • Locations: Hanoi, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Quang Nam, Dien Bien, Hai Phong, Quang Binh, Da Nang, Tien Giang, Dong Thap
  • Key beneficiaries: Ethnic minority children, migrant and poor children from 0-11 years old

Despite the continuous efforts of the Vietnamese Education Sector in the last five years, there are still many gaps in both access and quality of early childhood and basic education.

In the school year 2020-2021, there were more than 15.480 preschools, with 21.236 school sites. In comparison with previous school years, there were 19 new preschools were established and 2724 school sites reduced. There were 3.299 private ones (21,3%) and 16.013 independent childcare groups. However, teacher/student ratio is still low, especially in Northern mountainous, Mekong Delta and Central Highland areas (just 1.75 instead of the recommended 2-2.5 teachers per student), the enrolment rate of children under 3 years old is low (28,2%), especially in Mekong Delta (13,7%). There are many children still go to home- based care groups, not school. There are still 21.1% of preschool teachers that under standard qualification [1]. The school readiness of preschool children is relatively low, especially among deprived children like ethnic minority, migrant and poor children [1]. Similarly, there are still lots of challenges in primary education. There were 14.786 primary schools with 16323 school sites in school year 2020-2021, with more than 8.7 million students [1].

There are disparities between Kinh and other ethnic groups, as well as boys and girls, that are manifested in areas ranging from enrolment rate to primary completion. Furthermore, amongst those children that complete primary school, ethnic minority children again prove to be at a disadvantage to their Kinh peers, achieving lower educational outcomes, specifically lower performance in Vietnamese and Math. The learning outcome of ethnic minority primary schoolers at SC baseline survey for “Enhancing the School Readiness and Learning Outcomes of Ethnic Minority Children in Vietnam phase 1” project in 2018 among grade 2 students in Van Chan, Mu Cang Chai and Tay Giang was low, the total reading comprehension scores of grade 2 students was 18%, and H’Mong students had the lowest score among other ethnic groups (2%). For reading fluency, on average in the baseline, students read correctly 55 words per minute, this was below the national standard of reading fluency.

There are many reasons that contribute to the low school readiness and learning outcomes of children such as: limited resources, inadequate infrastructure and facilities as well as professional capacity hinders teachers’ ability to provide quality education. Teachers are not usually equipped with appropriate teaching methodologies and materials to deliver interactive, child-centered and play-based learning activities. Physical infrastructure, equipment and learning supplies in schools are also limited. For example, reference materials in class and library; classroom conditions and teaching and learning equipment are few, insufficient and in poor condition [1].  In fact, being a teacher is one of the most challenging jobs in Vietnam due to longer working hours, higher pressure and lower salary. The majority of teachers in ECD and primary education are women, who have to bear triple burdens of professional, social and family responsibilities which are much time consuming and efforts needed than their male peers. Most teachers in the deprived areas lack opportunities for professional development. Meanwhile, the school managers often lack the necessary capacity, confidence and resources to adapt teaching programs [2]. In addition, caregivers’ low awareness and engagement in children’s learning are also contributing to low school readiness and learning outcomes of children, especially among EMC, who might also have low educated or even illiterate caregivers. Many EMC caregivers also go to work far away from home or spend most of their time to earn a living, therefore it is difficult for them to spend time with their children and support their learning.

Since late 2019, COVID-19 has affected more than 150 million children and youth across the Southeast Asia region through school closure including Vietnam. Every time the pandemic is on, schools in impact areas have to close and switch to remote engagement learning mode. The most serious lockdown happened in Vietnam in February 2020 causing all schools’ closure and the education disruption of more than 21 million children [[3]].  In other waves, depending on the level of seriousness, central and local government will decide whether schools need to be closed, but there will always be a certain number of schools affected and children could not attend schools as usual. It was clear that we were not ready for such a situation: parents struggled in taking care of their children and support their learning while also managing their own work; schools struggled with a rapid transformation from offline to online planning with no preparation; and teachers had to adjust quickly to learn a new set of digital tools and use a completely virtual teaching method. Over the years, the Vietnamese government has carried out national initiatives and programs to foster the access and quality of education for children to ultimately reach its national and sustainable development goals of education. Importantly, endeavors in building student’s ICT-related capacity could be seen in the increasing proportion of student attending IT classes. For example, the figure for grade 3-5 students in the 2019-2020 school year was 71.2% which was a 10% gain compared to that of the previous school year. While online learning has been recognized as an inevitable trend in education, the crisis also highlights a new form of digital inequality between marginalized children like those from ethnic minority groups who do not have internet access. During the Covid-19 outbreak, as schools were closed, internet and television-based learning has been strongly promoted with the highest use rate reached 87.5% in major cities. However, the MOET’s statistics has indicated sharp disparities in the proportion of students doing internet and television-based learning between regions as those with larger EM populations, including northern Central area, mountainous area and northern area, recorded much lower rates [[4]]. Furthermore, in normal living conditions, this group is already geographically far away from schools and technology compared to urban children, which is exacerbated when schools are closed for any reason like an outbreak or natural disasters. Due to economic constraints, they have to help their parents with house chores or field work, which undermines their learning ability and their future development. For these children, both their learning outcomes and engagements in digital education are suffering, which is widening the gap between them and children who are better off, and puts them at even higher risk of being left behind.

Education is one of our priority programs in Vietnam. It currently remains as our biggest program portfolio with annual budget of USD 4 million in 2020. We are curently programming in education in 10 provinces in all regions of the country. Our strategic goal in 2022 - 2024 is to Increase access to quality learning (including digital literacy) for the most deprived children and youth. Specifically, our program aims to achieve the below objectives: 



  • To improve access to quality early childhood and basic education services of deprived children from 0-11 years old in Vietnam, especially ethnic minority children.
  • To improved capacity of preschool and primary school teachers and caregivers of children from 0-11 years old in Vietnam, especially the ones in remote and mountainous areas, in ensuring the continuity and quality of education for children in any contexts.
  • Developing and promoting remote engagement solutions, including digital transformation solutions in education.
  • Action plan/ guidance issued by MOET promoting quality ECCD and BE.

To achieve the objective and improve the situation of targeted group, four approaches have been applied, including: (1) Building Brains, (2) Emergent Literacy and Math, (3) Literacy Boost, (4) Mother Tongue Based Multi Lingual Education and SNAP, and (5) Cross-cutting interventions as follows:

  1. Building Brains (BB): is an evidence-based Common Approach that supports caregivers to provide early stimulation and responsive care, with an emphasis on reaching every child through different delivery platforms. A focus on the early years is particularly relevant to supporting the most deprived, as this is a unique window of opportunity to address inequality and reduce disadvantage
  2. Emergent Literacy and Math (ELM) is a proven approach which provides parents, care givers and learning centres with training, guidance and understanding of how to give children aged 3-6 years the foundational skills they need to learn through ‘play’.
  3. Literacy Boost (LB) is designed to reach boys and girls in the early primary grades of school by training teachers, parents and community members to better support children’s reading and writing skills in and outside of schools. This focuses on five core skills that have been proven central to literacy education as well as writing skills.
  4. Mother Tongue Based Multi Lingual Education (MTBMLE) and SNAP: Those approaches are now being integrated into ELM and LB activities to support ethnic minority children, especially in preschool and early grades overcome the language barrier via learning Vietnamese as second language and using culturally appropriate learning materials which reflect the child’s experiences. SNAP (Student Needs Action Pack ) package is to ensure that teachers will be able to support every last child in their class to learn to the best of their ability.
  5. Cross-cutting interventions include School Health and Nutrition, Child Protection, WASH and Disasters Risk Reduction, Gender Equality.


[1] Education Sector Analysis 2010-2015, Ministry of Education.

[2] Annual report of school year 2016-2017 and plan for school year 2017-2018, Early Childhood Education department, Ministry of Education


[4] Enlarging the implementation of information technology in teaching and learning. Retrieved from Nhan dan:


[5] Annual report of school year 2020-2021, Primary Education department, Ministry of Education.


[6] Education Sector Analysis 2010-2015, Ministry of Education.


[7] Annual report of school year 2016-2017 and plan for school year 2017-2018, Early Childhood Education department, Ministry of Education

[8] 9 Xuan and Ky. (2020). Enlarging the implementation of information technology in teaching and learning. Retrieved from Nhan dan: