This pilot project in a deprived quarter of Hanoi is geared towards improving the locals’ chances of a good education and thus also their standard of living. The Vietnamese organisation CEFACOM is the ideal partner in this, as it has already gained a great deal of experience in many other projects and is based locally in Hanoi. CEFACOM is an NGO with a good relationship with the Vietnamese government, something which is rather rare and in this case of huge importance, because projects cannot be carried out successfully in the corrupt Communist state of Vietnam without recognition from the government and good personal contact with its ministers.
The project consists of various components, the most important of which is school education for six- to seventeen-year-olds. Many children and young people living in deprived areas such as this cannot attend state school. They have to work (including as drug dealers and prostitutes) to support their families financially, or are now too old, or had to drop out of school early, or have no birth certificate, a prerequisite for school education. Now, eight to ten such children each year are to be taught by one teacher, with each child’s individual curriculum being designed with the aid of various learning assessments. Combined with the issuing of birth certificates, this will help the children be integrated into the state school system (or vocational college in the case of adolescents), ideally after one year or, if required, after a number of years. Lessons are to take place in a rented building.
At the same time, this building is to become the centre for the project, containing a small library with school textbooks, educational material and other information, which will be available to local people and be a starting point for further activities connected with the project.
Together with a core group of children, a social worker will offer 100 children and young people two-hour lessons in “life skills” every two weeks. In addition, 50 children and young people are to receive careers advice and learn manual skills in a variety of courses (e.g. making flowers or cards). 200 parents, particularly women, are to be offered regular information sessions on children’s rights, a good upbringing, child abuse and health (including HIV/AIDS). To this end, an additional employee has been appointed to provide health education. Furthermore, existing general information brochures produced by UNICEF and “Save the Children” (USA) are to be adapted to suit the Vietnamese environment and subsequently published, displayed in the library and distributed.
A so-called Education Committee is to be established, made up of five to seven members who live in the deprived quarter, are experienced in working with children and are accepted by them, and who are prepared to commit to the project on a voluntary basis. As this committee comes from the deprived quarter itself and thus has direct contact with local people, it is more easily able to identify children who could be considered for school attendance, who are involved in drug dealing or prostitution, or who are being abused. They are to act as intermediaries and points of contact between the local people and the project workers. The committee members attend a five-day training seminar before starting their work. At a monthly meeting between the committee and the project workers and CEFACOM staff, the progress of the project is discussed along with new experiences and any difficulties.
The project is initially to run for two years and is being financed by CEFACOM and action five. action five is contributing 9,500 euros in the first year, of which 1,000 comes from a single donation destined specifically for this cause. Our contribution goes towards paying the salaries of the teacher and social worker, building rent, book purchases, teaching materials and the materials required for the various different courses. action five will receive a project report every six months and will make a decision on funding for the second year based on a final year-end report.
Before the application was submitted for the project, action five had already had it signed off by the local authorities. Its successful implementation should now see it gain their active support. CEFACOM’s vision is for this project to become a pilot project that will be integrated into the state education programme and be implemented in other socially disadvantaged regions, too.