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Phelps, R & Graham, A 2010,Vietnamese children’s perspectives on learning and the provision of primary school education within the rural Na Ri district in Vietnam: pilot project report, report prepared for ChildFund Australia, Lismore, NSW, & Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.


Developing countries face an urgent imperative to improve the equity, quality, relevance and authenticity of their education provision. This is critical if they are to develop a literate but also creative and innovative population to support their continued economic development. In recent years, Vietnam has been making remarkable progress in alleviating poverty and inequality. However, with 41% of its population under the age of 18, Vietnam faces considerable challenges in educating its children. Vietnam’s traditional educational practices, like those of other Asian countries, are curriculum driven and focus predominantly on rote memorisation, passive learning approaches and print-based knowledge from text books. However, the Vietnamese government has recently introduced a new curriculum promoting ‘child-centred learning’. This research was initiated by ChildFund Australia as part of its increased commitment to research that: enhances knowledge of children’s experience; builds organisational expertise; contributes to improved effectiveness in aid operations; and enhances ChildFund’s profile, influence and public support. The research is a pilot study that will inform the development of a larger scale project. The aim of the research was three-fold, namely to better understand: (a) Vietnamese children’s experiences of, and views on, learning and primary schooling in rural and remote communities (within the district of Na Ri, Bac Kan province); (b) how their views about learning and education might inform the development of future quality, basic education provided in a safe and stimulating environment; and (c) the ethical and methodological issues involved in undertaking culturally appropriate research in Vietnam that incorporates children’s views and voices. The project involved in-depth interviews, utilising photo- and drawing-elicitation methods, with 46 children aged 9-10 (upper primary age) drawn from across four different schools. These children were invited to talk about their learning both at home and at school, with an emphasis on how they learnt in both these contexts