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Online English Learning Program: Improving Education for Underprivileged Children in Vietnam - Vici

English is an important tool in the labor market and globalization of Vietnam. It increases the chances of securing higher paying jobs and therefore improves the overall quality of life. Not only does it help with the economy, but also it is important to note that most scientific information essential for society’s well being and healthcare is available in English. Collectively, these aspects contribute to the development of the country itself. Hence, not surprisingly, English has become a compulsory subject in schools since the third grade, as it is becoming a more frequently spoken language in Vietnam.
Now you might think, that’s great… So what’s the problem?

As a nation, Vietnam ranks within the “low proficiency” category, as measured by EF’s English Proficiency Index score. Digging deeper into this subject, in 2019 the average score in English exams at the end of high school was 4.36 out of 10. The highest scorers were students in the urban areas, whereas the lowest (below average) scorers belong to the rural, mountainous areas (read more about it here). 

This highlights the fundamental issue in the right to education, which more greatly affects the ethnic minority, those who are disabled, and of a lower socioeconomic status, living in the rural areas.

Why particularly the rural areas?

There are a few challenges that both the demand (i.e. students) and the supply (i.e. the educational system) experience. On one hand, poverty, as mentioned earlier, is the biggest problem faced by the students and their families. On the other hand, the government faces obstacles such as the lack of complete infrastructures and qualified teachers in these areas.   

Online courses enable education for everyone…. Don’t they? 

COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of life, including how we go about delivering education to children around the world. Back in June, Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training implemented online teaching as a formal teaching method from preschool to university level. The same source also reported that 80% of students have access to online learning. However, among these students, 90% of them live in the urban areas.

While remote learning is necessary to avoid the spread of COVID-19, it further perpetuates the inequality in the access to education. It is great for those who have the means to obtain the technologies required to attend online classes, but those who struggle with poverty and cannot afford them are unfortunately left behind.

Is there a solution to this problem? Glad YOU asked!

Better Life Vietnam (BLV) has launched an online English learning program in August, aimed at increasing the level of English proficiency of youths in rural areas and providing a platform to interact with native English speakers around the world. 

There are many advantages of learning a language from native speakers. Lua, an English teacher in Vietnam’s mountainous district, stated that native speakers help to improve speaking and listening skills, which are not well taught through the local schools’ English curriculum. She further mentioned that the students do not often have the opportunity to interact with foreigners, and therefore lack the confidence to converse in English. Nancy, an English teacher in a rural district, added that the creative teaching style, for example using graphics and YouTube videos, also helped in improving teaching methods.

The program is divided into different English levels, with 36 conversational-style sessions per level. Each class lasts for an hour, and takes place three times per week. So far, about 100 students aged 9 to 18 years have attended the three levels which took place in this pilot phase.

There are a few obstacles that still need to be addressed. Firstly, BLV and the online learning program are not widely known amongst the rural districts. This means that the program cannot reach the youths who can benefit from it. Secondly, the lack of technology such as the internet and computers is still an issue. One of BLV’s future goals for the program is to supply the equipment to the students who do not have access to it. 

Can you help?

Of course! Here’s how:

  • Donate

Any donation can help BLV to achieve its goal of providing the equipment necessary to access online English courses. Contact BLV to make a donation here 

  • Volunteer as an online English teacher

With Covid-19 lockdown in place, why not use some of your free time and passion for teaching to help underprivileged children? Here is where you can sign up 

  • Support BLV’s business

At the end of 2019, BLV launched a business called Coeurs de Papier, aiming to provide job opportunities for disabled youths in Vietnam. You can buy cards designed and handcrafted by these aspiring and talented artists. Here is where you can learn more about Coeurs de Papier 

Let’s help BLV create a better life for underprivileged children!