Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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As children in the Cao Bang Province in Vietnam prepare to start a new school year, one father Nhinh Van Hoang, is gearing up for his third year as a teacher’s assistant.

The uncertainty of school closures due to COVID-19, has been a challenging experience for many teachers and parents, who have had to work together to guide children through lessons. Fortunately in Cao Bang, they’re able to return to the classroom.

Nhinh is part of the Hmong ethnic minority, and a father of three. Three years ago in 2019 he was invited by ChildFund Vietnam to participate in a group of parents who worked as teachers assistants in their local schools. Nhinh said he was happy and felt that his life had a new meaning.

When Nhinh first began volunteering as a teachers assistant at his local primary school, he was very shy. But after taking part in a series of trainings sessions organised by ChildFund, he became more confident with teaching and supporting children to learn in both the Hmong and Vietnamese languages.

The parents’ group also organised social events where they could get to know each other, share their experiences and talk about how best to support children’s learning at school and at home.

Three years later, Nhinh is now an experienced teachers’ assistant. He volunteers in a multi-grade classroom with 21 students – many of whom are from the Mong ethnic minority. Since many teachers do not speak Mong, Nhinh bridges the gap between teachers and students. “The teachers speak in Vietnamese and then I repeat in Hmong,” he says “I try to explain in the simplest way for children to understand.”

Nhinh is passionate about his role in the classroom. “Since becoming a teachers’ assistant, I have understood children better and learned the difficulties teachers face. Children like having assisting parents in class. They clap whenever they see us.”.

ChildFund Vietnam’s Confident to Reach Dreams project is working in six communes across the Cao Bang Province to establish Hmong teachers’ assistants in classrooms. This model helps to allow Hmong children to access an education in their language, and it empowers parents to be more involved in their children’s education.

This Father’s Day we’re celebrating dads  like Nhinh and there’s no better way to show your dad how grateful you are than by donating a charitable gift from ChildFund’s range of Gifts for Good on his behalf.

Not only will Gifts for Good bring a smile to your dad’s face, but it will also give him the opportunity to make a real difference in the world.

In 2004, Vietnam’s National Child Helpline (NCHL) was established to make sure child protection is prioritised across the country. Now, ChildFund Vietnam has developed App 111 to make sure that everyone can access vital resources to help keep children around the country safe.

Children in marginalised communities are at risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect. The helpline is an important way for the public to anonymously report any child protection issues and find support services for children. It can also connect families with counselling services.

The helpline was hugely successful, receiving 506,000 calls in the first six months of 2019. But only about 6% of those calls were able to be responded to because of limited human resources.

That’s when ChildFund decided it was time to make the service more accessible. With help from Microsoft Vietnam, ChildFund worked with the Department of Child Affairs to develop App 111 or ‘Tong dai 111’. They built a mobile reporting app that people can access at any time to report child protection concerns, helping to relieve pressure on the helpline.

“App 111 is one of our programs designed to support the national government in using technology for child protection. It provides more opportunities for victims to receive support and more people will be able to access the National Child Helpline,” said Lien Thi Bich Nguyen, Country Director of ChildFund Vietnam.

The aim of the app is to raise awareness of the importance of child protection and to provide a better system for responding to reports.

“More and more people in Vietnam are using internet and smart phones and ChildFund is working with the NCHL team to create a more friendly public service for our users, as well as for government staff,” Bao Ngoc Le, Specialist Team Leader in charge of Child Rights & Child Protection.

The child protection app allows users to file anonymous reports. After a report is filed, the NCHL can safely collect and manage the reports and take appropriate action.

The app also hosts on an online digital library of resources so people can learn more about child protection and safeguarding in their community. It is accessible to people with vision and hearing impairments.

 “We believe, with the success of our latest project and our continued efforts, we can continue to improve Vietnam’s child protection reporting and case management systems as well as increase the public take-up of App 111 to access information about child protection information and connect with the right services,” Lien said.

The app has completed phase one and just received a license to progress into phase two which will continue to improve the app and reach more communities across Vietnam.

Since being launched in December 2019, the app has been downloaded nearly 60,000 times. More than 1300 reports have been filed through the app.