In an attempt to close the socio-economic gaps, Vietnam is experimenting with bilingual education for Khmer, Hmong and Jarai students, most of whom do not speak Vietnamese, the official national language.

Below is an article published by the IHT Global Opinion:

At a handful of schools across Vietnam, children from ethnic minorities are finding something rare when they enter a classroom: They understand what the teacher is saying.

The pilot classes teach primary school children in their mother tongue while phasing in Vietnamese. Results already show these pupils pulling ahead of minority peers who aren’t in the program, suggesting this method could have a long-term impact on their success.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said this month [April 2013] that Vietnam must fix the income and other disparities that ethnic minorities face. Expanding mother-tongue-based education would go a long way toward that end.

Currently, just 494 students across three provinces benefit from these bilingual classes, a joint project that pairs Unicef with the Education and Training Ministry. The sample is small but reflects progress.

“We see quite remarkable differences in the learning outcomes,” said Mitsue Uemura, chief of Unicef Vietnam’s education section.

In first grade, the average math score out of 100 for ethnic minorities in the experimental group was 75, compared with 61 in the control group. In second grade, the respective scores were 85 and 74. More.


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