|Students have lunch at Man Than Primary School in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai's Si Ma Cai District. Education is believed to help reduce poverty. — VNS Photo Thai Ha
HA NOI (VNS) — Education plays a crucial role in enabling impoverished children and communities to partake in economic development as well as maintaining long-term development, a recent study of childhood poverty reveals.
"The study results indicate obvious progress in expanding educational opportunities and improving nutrition for poor children," said Young Lives Viet Nam country co-director Nguyen Thang, who is also director of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences's Centre for Analysis and Forecasting.
During the 15-year study, which focused on Lao Cai, Hung Yen, Phu Yen and Ben Tre provinces as well as the central city of Da Nang, Young Lives collected data on children from infancy through 12 years of age and eight to 19 years old. They concluded that while positive changes were taking place for children and young adults in the country, significant and comprehensive inequalities remained between socio-economic demographics.
In terms of education and learning, parents' education levels have a measurable impact on their children's learning process. Young adults with high-educated parents from the middle class are more likely to pursue higher education while as many as 13 per cent of children of mothers with limited education left school by age 12.
Notably, the rate of students taking extra classes rose substantially between 2006 and 2013.
Regarding nutrition and health, stunted growth among 12-year-old children decreased. Malnutrition also decreased for most groups, with the exception of ethnic minority groups and children whose caregivers had no formal schooling.
Nguyen Quang Thuan, vice director of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Young Lives findings would contribute to improving government policies to address childhood poverty.
"Inequalities remain. However, the latest results reveal a number of stages in which policymakers can intervene to support the development of poor children," said Thuan.
Young Lives Viet Nam principal investigator Le Thuc Duc said the present challenge was ensuring that all children were beneficiaries. Additional policies concentrated on the living conditions of ethnic minority groups were likely to lead to positive changes, he added.
The Young Lives programme has carried out scientific studies on 12,000 children living across Viet Nam, Ethiopia, India and Peru through uninterrupted 15-year periods. It is led by a team from the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford in association with research and policy partners in the four study countries. — VNS