Vietnam - Nonformal Education
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A survey made in 1990 showed that there were slightly more than 2,000,000 illiterates in the country in the age bracket of 15 to 35 years and 2,100,000 children in the age group of 6 to 14 years who had either never attended primary school or had dropped out after a very brief exposure. Illiteracy was very high among the "socially and economically underdeveloped areas" particularly in the mountainous areas, central coast, offshore islands, and some parts of the Mekong Delta. The mountainous areas had 747,300 illiterates or about 39 percent of the total while the Mekong delta had 650,639 or 33 percent. The literacy programs, which are not part of the school programs, include in-service, complementary and vocational education programs. These are offered or financed by different governmental agencies as well as by voluntary organizations such as the Youth Union and the Women's Union, which are recognized by the government as being representative of those sectors of the society.
As a result of the massive drive undertaken by the government during 1990-1995 to combat illiteracy, some 1,723,320 illiterates attended classes. Of them, 805,223 persons learned to read and write, and the balance finished education up to first or second grade. Every year in that period, 220,000 to 280,000 people attended literacy classes; 50 to 60 percent became literate and 60,000 to 100,000 moved on to post-literacy classes. In 1996, the National Committee for Illiteracy Eradication claimed that 27 provinces and cities with 7,760 communes and wards out of a total of 10,219 had eradicated illiteracy taking the percentage of literacy in the nation from 88 percent in 1990 to 91 percent in 1996. This meant that 34 provinces still had a number of illiterates. In the mountainous provinces, only 1,403 out of 2,676 (52.4 percent) communes were able to eradicate illiteracy; in the Mekong Delta, only 970 of 1,598 communes reached the goal. Therefore, in 1996, a timetable was drawn up whereby 9 provinces would be helped to eradicate illiteracy in 1997, some 13 others in 1998, then 4 in 1999, and the remaining 8 in 2000, thereby eradicating illiteracy completely in all of Vietnam.
At the same time, the government claimed in 1996 that Vietnam had exceeded the norm for illiteracy eradication set by the International Conference in Jomtien (Thailand) in March 1990 that, by the year 2000, some 80 percent of the 6- to 11-year-old children should be attending primary school and 50 percent of the illiterates in 1990 will have learned to read and write. Except for some mountainous provinces and remote areas, Vietnam claimed it had met and even exceeded those goals. The government was, however, concerned that in 1996, there were still some 1,400,000 illiterates in the country. It ascribed the problem to the fact that every year about 1,000,000 children who do not enroll in primary school get added to the ranks of the illiterates.