Ladies and gentlemen,
Girls and boys,
On behalf of the partners in the Global Campaign on Education, let me first thank you for your invitation to speak at this event.
This year, the Global Action Week has the theme: “Quality Education for All: End Exclusion Now!”
Worldwide 72 million children are not enrolled in school. In Viet Nam, there are 1.8 million children who should be enrolled in lower-secondary school. However, over 157 000 of them are not in school. This means that almost one out of every ten Vietnamese children is missing out on lower-secondary education.
Although Vietnam has a large number of children in lower-secondary school, still a lot of children do not make it through the class room doors. Education for All means education for every school-aged child. If we are committed to the goals of Education for All, we have to find ways to make sure the remaining 157 000 children also make it to the classroom.
However, crossing the school gate and making it to the classroom is not enough. We have to make sure that all children have the chance to learn once they are at school.
Some of these children do not have access to quality education because of physical or mental disabilities, while others are excluded because of their ethnicity, gender or geographical location.
According to this year’s Education For All Global Monitoring report, not being able to afford to go to school remains a major obstacle to education for millions of children and youth around the world. In particular, children from poor and indigenous populations, living in remote rural areas, are systematically disadvantaged when compared to children of the majority population of the same country.
This is also the case in Vietnam. A recent study done by the MOET with support from UNICEF and UNESCO, found that ethnic minority children in Vietnam, particularly girls, are missing out on education and the opportunities it offers for a better life. And the biggest obstacle in ethnic minority girls’ access to quality education in Vietnam is poverty.
So what can we do about it?
First and foremost, policy makers at all levels have to focus on the thousands of children who are not in school and on those who are not learning. While celebrating the big achievements in getting children into school in recent years in Vietnam, we should not loose sight of those who are not there, but increase out attention to getting them in and making sure that they learn
Well thought through strategies are needed to address the causes of exclusion. Schooling must be affordable. Policies must enhance educational quality at all levels, in formal and in non-formal settings, and ensure that all children get into schools which provide them with programmes and practices that help them succeed. This means addressing and responding to the diversity of learners and developing appropriate teaching methods, curricula, and relations between schools, families and communities.
The EFA Global Monitoring report states that, “We should recognize the importance of mother tongue instruction in early childhood and the first years of primary school.”
Imagine you had to learn everything from the beginning in a foreign language. How much more difficult would it be to understand even the simple things being taught?
2008 was declared as the International Year of Languages by the UN General Assembly in recognition of the need for policy makers, educational institutions and other local, national and international organizations to take action now to promote multilingualism.
Global Action Week offers us an opportunity to renew our commitment to the EFA movement and goals making sure that we achieve our target by 2015. Vietnam is finalizing the mid-decade assessment report and once it is done, we need to take a critical look at the findings, the current strategies and the need for revision of them to ensure that when we say Education for All, we have indeed reached out to and included All – also the most disadvantaged and excluded! .
With these few words, I wish you an exciting afternoon.
Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO representative
(on behalf of the partners in the Global Campaign on Education)
Date: 23 April 2008
Event: National event of the EFA Global Action Week