Norway’s new Ambassador to Vietnam H.E. Mr. Kjell Storløkken went on a field trip to visit the Central Highland provinces of Vietnam from 4 – 6 November together with his fellow Ambassadors from Canadian, New Zealand and Switzerland.
The Central Highlands “Tay Nguyen” are the provinces to the west of Nha Trang along Vietnam’s border to Cambodia, Dak Nong, Dak Lak and Gia Lai.
Prior to the field trip, a briefing was held in Hanoi, where a project for ensuring primary education for disadvantaged children was reviewed. Norway and Canada are the two main sponsors of the project.
So far about one fifth of the projects funds have been disbursed and the rest would be spent before 2008 on basic educational facilities for children many of whom belong to the ethnic minorities in Vietnam
The total amount to be spent in the three provinces is roughly 20 million dollars.
For Kjell Storløkken who arrived Hanoi together with his wife Olaug Storløkken in September only two month prior to the field trip, it was an excellent chance to get a first hand impression of Vietnam outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The envoys arrived in Dac Nong on the first leg of their journey through the region. Here they were briefed on the socio economic development of the province by the Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.
The second and the third leg were the most interesting part of the trip. The second leg took them up to the Dac Lac Province which is 400 – 800m high above sea.
Here, they visited the Hoang Dieu primary school in the Drao commune, Chu Ne village, Krong Buk district, where a project was funded by Norway.
The project aims at helping to build classrooms for primary schools in 220 districts of 40 poorest provinces.
From here, the Ambassadors continued north along the border to Cambodia to Gia Lai Province. In Gia Lai the diplomats saw for the result of a number of community development projects in Kong Dong and Ia H’De communes in Mang Yang and Krong Pa Districts, respectively.
The first project was a kindergarten for Ba Na ethnic minority children and the other provided training forr health workers. The envoys also visited Plei Choet church in Pleiku City and had first hand experience of the country’s religious freedom.
Since 1999 Norwegian development cooperation in Vietnam has focused increasingly on improving children’s access to primary school and the quality of primary education. The Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children Project, which Mr. Storløkken visited on this trip, is supported by Norway together with the World Bank, Dfid, CIDA and AusAID. The targets groups are ethnic minorities and disadvantaged children, and the focus is on equal opportunities for all children to receive education as stated in the convention on the Rights of the Child. Norway also supports Vietnam’s ‘Education for All’ program.
Norway also provides assistance for two additional education programs at primary school level. One project targets the ethnic minorities in Dien Bien Province to improve this group’s access to education. The project includes the construction of boarding schools, assistance for the preparation of curricula adapted to local conditions and special training of teachers working in two-language communities with several age groups in one class. The other project concerns the reconstruction of primary schools in the areas most affected by floods in central Vietnam in 1999 and building of elementary schools in flood-prone areas.
Norway has also supported the Research Centre for Ethnic Minority Education, Ministry of Education and Training, in the completion of six glossaries – Viet-Thai, Viet-H’mong, Viet-Cham, Viet-Bana, Viet-Jrai and Viet-Ede.