Norway, Sweden help launch Vietnam’s primary education scheme

Norway and Sweden have, among other donors, provided financial aid for Vietnamese government to launch US$243.8-million Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children project aimed at helping underprivileged children in Vietnam complete a full cycle of primary schooling.
     Of the total project budget, US$139 million will be loan from the World Bank, US$65 million given by the governments of Norway, Sweden, Australia and United Kingdom as non-refundable aid, and the balance allocated by the Vietnamese government itself.
     The programme is part of the country’s step-by-step campaign to provide a proper study environment for children and equality in education.
     Although education was made compulsory in July 2000, many children still do not have access to primary education, said Dr. Dang Tu An, Deputy Director of Primary Education Department under the Ministry of Education and Training.
     Over the last 10 years, the country has raised net enrolment rates at the primary level from about 80 per cent in school year 1990/1 to nearly 94 per cent in 1999/2000. However, presently only 78 per cent of grade one pupils complete grade five, and a significant number of children do not yet reach the target level of learning performance in mathematics and reading comprehension.
     This 6-year programme, which runs from this year until 2008, is expected to benefit some three million children who have never attended school, are school drop-outs, in danger of quitting, as well as disabled children.
     The relationship between family, school and society will also be improved to accord with education in remote and isolated regions while a policy for disabled and street children will be devised, Dr. An said.
     He added that 67 per cent of the project’s financial resource would be spent on employing more teachers, building schools and providing study facilities and equipment for pupils.
     The majority of project resources are targeted at 189 districts in 38 provinces, where approximately 70 per cent of Vietnam’s educationally disadvantaged children reside according to a national survey conducted to determine the scale of this project.

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