In many ways Anh (pictured above) is like many eight-year-old girls: she loves playing with friends and with her toys, and she enjoys reading. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor.
Anh, however, faces multiple challenges that many children her age should not face. She is of an ethnic minority group in Vietnam and lives in a disadvantaged, remote community in Bac Kan province and, for much of her life, has faced discrimination. Anh has an intellectual disability that affects her communication, which means interacting with others and learning is challenging for her, but she is incredibly resilient and determined to overcome her barriers.
A long-time dream of Anh’s has been to go to school. Up until a couple of years ago, a lack of educational resources and teachers with the right skills and knowledge to support children living with disability has prevented Anh’s dream from becoming a reality. Other major barriers for Anh to accessing a quality education include stigma around people living with a disability and the belief they are incapable of learning, and a lack of basic understanding about children’s rights.
How ChildFund is helping children with a disability
In 2019, ChildFund Vietnam launched an inclusive education project focused on changing community attitudes and helping to ensure children like Anh could access quality education. In partnership with local governments and the Vietnamese organisation, Action to the Community Development Institute, ChildFund equipped teachers with new educational resources and trained them on how to prepare and teach lessons that would help children living with a disability to learn.
ChildFund and its local partners have also been running awareness campaigns in communities like Anh’s, in Bac Kan and Cao Bang provinces, about children’s rights and the importance of inclusive education.
Anh’s father Thuc sometimes joins Anh in class to help boost her confidence and to better understand how he can support her to continue learning at home.
New opportunities, brighter future
Today, Anh is in Grade 3 and doing well in her studies. This is partly because her teacher Thang now has the knowledge, skills and tools to help her develop her communication, literacy and numeracy skills.
Thang has been a teacher for more than 30 years, but ChildFund’s training was the first time she learnt how to help students like Anh reach their potential. “I have learnt about new teaching methods for different types of disabilities, and how to organise activities and prepare class lessons that can facilitate the learning of children with disabilities,” she says.
Anh particularly enjoys reading, and sometimes her father Thuc joins her in class to provide support and help boost her confidence. Accompanying Anh at school also helps him to understand how he can support her to continue learning at home.
“I was afraid that my daughter was unable to learn, and I was worried about her future,” Thuc says. “Thanks to the changes at the school, she can now communicate better and is gradually learning.
“I am happy to see her progress.”
New resources and training sessions run by ChildFund Vietnam and local partners are helping teachers like Thang (pictured in pink) support students living with a disability reach their potential.