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Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

YOUTH IN VIET NAM:
A Review of the Youth Situation and National Policies and Programmes

UNITED NATIONS
New York, 2000

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YOUTH IN VIET NAM: A REVIEW OF THE YOUTH SITUATION NATIONAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

The designations employed and the presentation in this publication do not imply the expression whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the concerning the legal status of any country, territory, of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of boundaries.

of the material of any opinion United Nations city or area or its frontiers or

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Foreword

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) initiated a project entitled “Capacity-building in HRD policy-making for youth in Asia and the Pacific” in collaboration with Queen’s University, Canada, in August of 1999. The project aimed to strengthen the capacity of governments to formulate and implement, in coordination with the NGO and private sectors, national youth policies and programmes that address the human resources development (HRD) needs of young people in Asia and the Pacific. In focusing on the needs of youth in the region, the project supports ESCAP’s belief that there are three key issues in providing a voice for youth in society: access and benefit, ability to influence and equity. These three issues are ultimately the pillars of youth participation – to ensure the rights of all youth to have access to opportunities and to play an active role in all spheres of society. This includes all youth, girls and boys, young men and women, rural and urban youth, youth with special needs and marginalized youth. The project recognizes the critical need for youth concerns and issues to be understood and addressed. The best way to do so is to give youth a voice through facilitation of their active participation. The project included three components: (1) Advisory services to the governments of Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam in the establishment or strengthening of national youth coordinating mechanisms for youth policy formulation and implementation; (2) analysis of the youth situation, policies and programmes in the four participating countries, and drafting of policy alternatives; and (3) national youth policy dialogues among governments, NGOs and the private sector.
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YOUTH IN VIET NAM: A REVIEW OF THE YOUTH SITUATION NATIONAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

Research on the situation of youth and youth policy in each of the four countries was conducted by a National Counterpart Organization (NCO). These included the Malaysian Youth Council, Malaysia; the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippines; the National Youth Bureau, Office of the Prime Minister, Thailand; and the Viet Nam Youth Federation, Viet Nam. This research formed the basis of four country Monographs on the youth situation, policies and programmes as they relate to HRD issues of youth education and training, youth employment, youth health and youth rights and participation, including “Youth in Viet Nam: A review of the youth situation, policies and programmes”. A series of national policy dialogues was subsequently held in the four countries to discuss the findings of the research. Participants in the dialogues included senior officials from government and non-governmental agencies concerned with youth development. The results of these dialogues have been incorporated into the recommendations section of each of the Monographs. The recommendations that have resulted from these studies will feed into the policy-making process of each of the participating countries. In Viet Nam and Thailand, the recommendations will input into the National Youth Policy of each country that is currently being drafted. In the case of Malaysia, the research will contribute to the Plan of Action arising from the National Youth Development Policy. Finally, in the Philippines, the study forms part of the on-going policy discussion process in the country. This Monograph was drafted by the Viet Nam Youth Federation, Viet Nam (VYF) and finalized by ESCAP and Queen’s University in collaboration with VYF. The process of finalization of the monograph was coordinated by Ms Sheila Sukonta Thomson during her assignment as Consultant with ESCAP. As part of ESCAP’s efforts to promote youth participation, an attempt was made to involve youth and to seek their opinions throughout the research process. In some countries, youth were the principle players in the NCO research teams and they represented their constituents in the National Policy Dialogues. In other cases, youth were interviewed and their opinions appear in quote form in the Monograph. Canadian students from Queen’s University also participated in the research process. Each NCO hosted one Canadian student who carried out focus group discussions and interviews with youth of that country. Some of the results of these discussions appear in the Monographs.
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The Monograph itself has six chapters: Youth Development; Youth Education; Youth Health; Youth Employment; Youth Participation; and Conclusions and Recommendations. The first chapter on Youth Development provides an overview of youth participation in national development followed by a review of the national youth policy and programmes. Each of the three chapters on education, health, and employment begin with an analysis of policy and programmes in the concerned area. This is followed by a quantitative and a qualitative analysis on youth issues in the relevant area. The chapter on Youth Participation highlights the various youth organizations operating in the country followed by a section that presents youth issues through their own voice. The chapter also discusses youth participation in politics as well as the media. Each of the first five chapters ends with a section that discusses the challenges to youth policy in the relevant area. The final chapter of the Monograph presents conclusions as well as recommendations for further action that have resulted from the research as well as the national policy dialogues. Bearing in mind the objective of the project to strengthen the capacity of governments, in coordination with other sectors, to formulate and implement programmes that address the human resources development needs of youth, it is hoped that this Monograph will encourage at the local, national, and regional levels the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes and project implementation. I would like to express our gratitude to Queen’s University, Canada, our partner in conceiving and carrying out the project on youth policy-making in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. We are grateful to Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for their financial support, without which we would not have been able to carry out the project. In addition, we would like to thank the Conference Board of Canada, which as executing agency for the APEC Phase II Project, was the mechanism that allowed CIDA to provide the funds for this project.

KIM HAK-SU Executive Secretary ESCAP
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Message from the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

I welcome the publication of this monograph on the Youth Situation, Policies and Programmes in Viet Nam with great pleasure. This is one of several important outcomes of the Project on Capacity-building in National Youth Policy-Making in Asia and the Pacific. Youth are key agents of socio-economic development and technological innovation in the Asia-Pacific region. Canada shares with the member countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) involved in the project, such as Viet Nam, the view that the wellbeing of our youth should have a very high priority on the national agenda. Youth policy is an important instrument for promoting greater participation of young people in determining the direction of development in their societies. Identification of the current situation and needs of the youth, and the existing policies and programmes that directly and indirectly affect them, is an essential prerequisite to effective formulation and implementation of policy in which youth can play a positive and active role. I am proud of this major outcome of the collaborative effort of Queen’s University and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). It is an important contribution to the University’s goal of increased internationalization of its programmes and scholarship. Young Canadian interns and young people from the AsiaPacific region have played an active role in the preparation of these monographs. My colleagues from Queen’s University, who directed this project, along with their colleagues from the United Nations Economic and
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Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, have shown how a carefully planned and implemented project on a crucial area of concern both in the region and globally, can contribute to the shared objectives of Canada and the Asia-Pacific region, in ensuring a better, self-directed future for the young people of the world. This monograph is, therefore, a prime example of successful and effective cooperation between a Canadian university committed to the goal of preparing leaders and citizens for a global society, a team of dedicated specialists from the United Nations responsible for promoting human resources development in the region, and host country institutions responsible for ensuring the active participation of youth in national development. I congratulate the Human Resources Development Section of ESCAP; my colleagues from Queen’s University, Professor Jayant Lele, Professor Lorna Wright, and Professor Audrey Kobayashi; the young Canadian interns associated with the project; and the Viet Nam Youth Federation, Viet Nam for this excellent accomplishment.

WILLIAM C. LEGGETT Principal and Vice-Chancellor Queen’s University, Canada

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Abbreviations
AIDS CC CIDA CPR CPVN DNADA ESCAP GDNWG GDP GSO HCYU HIV HRD HRDC IEC IMR IUD LPCE MOET MOH MOLISA NADC NCO NCPFP Acquired immune deficiency syndrome Central Committee Canadian International Development Agency Contraceptive Prevalence Rate Communist Party of Viet Nam Department of National Assembly Deputies Activity Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Government-Donor-NGO Working Group Gross Domestic Product Government Statistical Office Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Resources Development Human Resources Development Canada Information, Education and Communications Infant Mortality Rate Intra-Uterine Device Law on People’s Council Elections Ministry of Education and Training Ministry of Health Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs National Anti-Drug Committee National Counterpart Organization National Committee for Population and Family Planning
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Abbreviations
NGO PC SRV U5MR UNDP UNFPA VAS VYF WHO Non-governmental People’s Councils Socialist Republic of Viet Nam Under five mortality rate United Nations Development Programme United Nations Population Fund Vietnam Association of Students Viet Nam Youth Federation World Health Organization Organization

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Contents
PAGE Foreword ..................................................................................................................... iii Message from the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Canada ......................................................................... Abbreviations ............................................................................................................ I. Youth Development .................................................................................... A . INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 1. Background ........................................................................................ 2. Human resources development achievements ........................ 3. Disparities in equity and access .................................................. B. NATIONAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK .............. 1. Definition of youth ........................................................................ 2. Background of youth development policy .............................. 3. Responsible agencies ....................................................................... 4. Youth development policies and plans ..................................... 5. Programmes for youth................................................................... C . CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH POLICY ................................................ II. Youth Education ........................................................................................... A . NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY ...................................................... 1. Background ........................................................................................ 2. Education reform since 1986 ....................................................... 3. Government budget allocation for education and training ....................................................................................... B. THE EDUCATION SYSTEM ...................................................................... 1. Formal education ............................................................................. 2. Non-formal education .................................................................... C . QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS ..................................................................... 1. Primary education ........................................................................... 2. Secondary education ....................................................................... 3. Vocational training .......................................................................... 4. Tertiary and higher education ..................................................... vii ix 1 1 1 2 3 5 5 5 5 7 8 10 11 11 11 12 16 17 17 20 21 21 24 30 31
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Contents
P AGE 5. Non-formal education .................................................................... 32 6. Military service ................................................................................. 33 7. Literacy ............................................................................................... 34 D. QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS ......................................................................... 1. Education personnel ....................................................................... 2. Teaching methodology................................................................... 3. Physical infrastructure.................................................................... E. CHALLENGES FOR EDUCATION POLICY ..................................... III. Youth Health ................................................................................................. A . YOUTH HEALTH POLICY ........................................................................ 1. Background ........................................................................................ 2. National health policies ................................................................. B. NATIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM................................................. 1. Structure ............................................................................................. 2. Health care agencies ....................................................................... 3. Government expenditure .............................................................. C . QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS ..................................................................... 1. Mortality rate ................................................................................... 2. Morbidity rate .................................................................................. 3. Physical size ...................................................................................... 4. Reproductive health ........................................................................ 5. Sexually transmitted diseases ........................................................ 6. Substance abuse ................................................................................ D. QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS ......................................................................... 1. Health personnel.............................................................................. 2. Prevention .......................................................................................... E. CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH HEALTH POLICY .......................... IV. Youth Employment ..................................................................................... A . YOUTH EMPLOYMENT POLICY .......................................................... 1. Background ........................................................................................ 2. Employment policy relevant to youth ..................................... 3. Government initiatives on youth employment ...........................
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34 34 34 35 35 37 37 37 37 42 42 43 44 45 45 46 46 47 49 52 55 55 56 56 59 59 59 60 63

Contents
B. PAGE QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS ........................................................................ 64 1. Labour force ....................................................................................... 64 2. Underemployed youth ...................................................................... 71 3. Unemployed youth ............................................................................ 72
QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS ............................................................................ 1. Working conditions ........................................................................... CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH EMPLOYMENT POLICY ................. 73 73

C.
D.

74 77 77 77 78 79 80 81 81 81 81 82 83 84 84 87 87 89 92 92 93 94 96 98 101
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V.

Youth Participation ....................................................................................... A. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................. B. YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS ......................................................................... 1. Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union ...................................... 2. Vietnam Youth Federation .............................................................. 3. Vietnam Association of Students ................................................. 4. National Council of Young Entrepreneurs in Vietnam ........... C. VOICE OF YOUTH .......................................................................................... D. POLITICAL PARTICIPATION ...................................................................... 1. Voting .................................................................................................. 2. Political representation ..................................................................... 3. Government programmes aimed at increasing political awareness ............................................................................ E. THE MEDIA ........................................................................................................ F. CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH PARTICIPATION .................................. Future Directions for Youth Development .......................................... A. CONCLUSIONS .................................................................................................
B. POLICY GUIDELINES: A SUMMARY ..................................................... RECOMMENDATIONS ..................................................................................

VI.

C.

1. National Youth Policy ...................................................................... 2. Education ............................................................................................ 3. Health .................................................................................................. 4. Employment ....................................................................................... 5. Participation ....................................................................................... References ..................................................................................................................

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COUNTRY PROFILE OF VIET NAM

Location

South-East Asia, bordering China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, the Gulf of Thailand, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the South China Sea 16 00 N, 106 00 E Total 329,560 sq km; Land 325,360 sq km; Water 4,200 sq km 3,444 km (excludes islands) Low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest Arable land 17%; permanent crops 4%; permanent pastures 1%; forests and woodland 30%; other 48% (1993 est.) 18,600 sq km (1993 est.) 79,832,000 (2000 est.) 0-14 years 33%; 15-24 years 21%; 60 years and over 5% (2000 est.) Buddhist, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Islam, Protestant, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao Vietnamese (official), Chinese, English, French, Khmer, tribal languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian) Economy in transition Hanoi 58 provinces, 3 municipalities Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ha Tay, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Thai Binh, Ninh Binh Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Bac Can, Tuyen Quang, Lang Son, Yen Bai, Thai Nguyen, Phuc Tho, Vinh Phuc, Bac Giang, Bac Ning, Quang Ninh Lai Chau, Son La, Hoa Binh Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue

Coordinates Area Coastline Terrain Land Use Irrigated Land Population Age Structure Religions Languages Government Capital Administration Red River Delta region North-east region North-west region North-central coast region

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South-central coast region Central Highlands region South-east region Mekong Delta region Executive Branch

Quang Nam, Da Nang, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khang Hoa Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dac Lac

Ho Chi Minh, Lam Dong, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan Long An, Dong Thap, An Giang, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Can Tho, Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Tra Vingh, Vinh Long, Kieng Giang Chief of state: President Tran Duc LUONG (since 24 September 1997) Head of government: Prime Minister Phan Van KHAI (since 25 September 1997) Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister and ratification of the National Assembly

Legislative Branch Judicial branch

Unicameral National Assembly or Quoc-Hoi (450 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) Supreme People’s Court, chief justice is elected for a five-year term by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president Dong (VND), 1 US$ = 14,046 VND (United Nations official conversion rate as of August 2000)

Monetary unit

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Youth Development

I

A. 1.

INTRODUCTION Background

Youth have played an important role in the recent history of Viet Nam. They were major forces in the struggle against French colonial rule, which led to the August Revolution and founding of an independent Democratic Republic of Viet Nam in 1945. During two decades of struggle for national liberation and independence, first against the French from 1946-1954 and then involving the Americans from 1965-1975, young Vietnamese men and women in both North Viet Nam and South Viet Nam were the core force in the struggle. An estimated three million Vietnamese people died as a result of the devastating conflicts, the majority of them youth (SarDesai 1998). Since the reunification of the country in 1975, Viet Nam’s political and economic systems have undergone a series of major changes. From 19751985, the two diverging administrative systems of the North and the South were unified under a centrally planned system. The state nationalized all manufacturing and industrial activity, controlled all land and natural resources, and organized agriculture and production under a collective system. In that decade, the people of Viet Nam endured extreme hardship. The recovery of a conflict-torn country, the heavy consequence of further conflicts with Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and border conflicts with China, the constraints of the centrally planned system, and the trade embargo
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maintained by the United States of America led the country to very difficult socio-economic situations during the seventies and eighties. By the mid-80s, it was estimated that 70 per cent of the population was living in poverty as defined in World Bank terms (GDNWG 1999). In 1986, the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPVN) at its Sixth Congress introduced policies known as Doi Moi or the politics of renovation, hereafter the Renovation. The policies called for a shift both to a market-oriented economy under state management and to a multi-sector economy. Land would be distributed among farming households, who, although they would not own the land, would have the right to sell or mortgage the right to use their land. Controlled prices for the majority of goods and services would be abolished. Measures would be introduced to open up the economy to international markets. Further economic reforms were instituted at the Seventh Congress of the CPVN held in 1991. Following the implementation of such reforms and the resumption of international aid, the Vietnamese economy began to grow at unprecedented rates. From 1991 to 1995, the GDP grew at an average rate of 8.2 per cent per year, followed by a rate of 9.6 per cent in 1996 and 8.2 per cent in 1997. In 1998 and 1999, the GDP decreased to 5.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively, in part due to the economic crisis which occurred in South-East Asia in 1997. Young people formed the economic backbone of Viet Nam’s economic success throughout the decade. Although youth, defined as those aged 15 to 35 years, accounted for 36 per cent of the country’s population of 67 million in 1999, they made up 52.6 per cent of the labour force in 1998, with equal proportions of women and men (GSO 1999b). 2. Human resources development achievements Viet Nam has made enormous gains in the area of human resources development in the 1990s. After a decade of rapid economic growth, the incidence of poverty in the country halved. The proportion of people with per capita expenditures below the total poverty line decreased from 58 per cent in 1993 to 37 per cent in 1998. The proportion of people below the lower food poverty line, as defined by the World Bank, dropped from 25 per cent to 15 per cent over the same period (GDNWG 1999).
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In the education sector, primary net enrolment rates increased for both girls and boys from 78 per cent in 1992-1993 to 93 per cent in 1997-1998. Significant improvements were also seen at the secondary level where enrolment for males and females rose from 36 per cent to 59 per cent at the lower secondary level and from 11 per cent to 27 per cent at the upper secondary level between 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (GSO and MOLISA 1994; and GSO and MOLISA 1999). The health status of the Vietnamese people increased considerably from 1970 to 1997, with significant demographic impacts. The infant mortality rate dropped from 112 deaths per 1,000 live births to 32 deaths per 1,000 live births over the period. The mortality rate of children under five years of age also decreased considerably from 157 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births. Figures for 1998 show that the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the under five mortality rate (U5MR) were higher for males than females. The IMR was 35.6 per cent for males and 19.2 per cent for females and the U5MR was 42.1 per cent for males and 29.2 per cent for females. Life expectancy at birth grew from 48.9 years in 1970 to 67.4 years in 1997. The corresponding female and males figures for the latter year were 69.4 years and 64.9 years (UNDP 1999). 3. Disparities in equity and access Considerable variations in the level of human resources development exist in Viet Nam by area, by region, by ethnicity and by sex. The majority (76 per cent) of Viet Nam’s population of 76 million lived in rural areas in 1999. The incomes of people living in urban areas grew by 61 per cent on average, while rural incomes increased by only 30 per cent from 1993-1998. The incidence of poverty in rural areas was also 45 per cent higher than that in urban areas (GDNWG 1999). The poverty level is also much higher in certain regions of Viet Nam than in others, due to the concentration of industrialization and infrastructure in certain areas, and the remoteness of others. 57 per cent of the Vietnamese people live in three regions: the Red River Delta, the Mekong Delta and the south-east. These three regions comprise only 29 per cent of the country’s land area (GDNWG 1999).
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Of Viet Nam’s eight regions (see Country Profile for a description of the regions), the fastest growing ones are the south-east, which contains Ho Chi Minh City and the Red River Delta, and the region where Hanoi is situated. The growth in real per capita expenditure from 1993-1995 was 78 per cent in the former and 55 per cent in the latter. The poorest regions were the Mekong Delta, the Central Highlands and the north-west, where the growth in real per capita expenditure increased by only 18 per cent, 25 per cent and 31 per cent respectively from 1993-1995 (GDNWG 1999). The latter two regions are remote mountainous areas, populated predominantly with ethnic minorities. Viet Nam has 54 ethnic groups, of which the Kinh is the largest at 86 per cent. Although ethnic minorities made up 14 per cent of Viet Nam’s total population in 1998, they accounted for 29 per cent of the country’s poor (GDNWG 1999). Although the position of women in society and their overall situation were significally improved since the August Revolution, gender inequalities still exist in Viet Nam, most notably with regard to power relations within the household. Vietnamese women continue to face problems, such as extremely heavy workloads, due to their productive, reproductive and community roles. They also face domestic violence; health problems; limited representation in political institutions; limited access to education among some ethnic groups; and unequal access to land and credit. Although gender inequality in education no longer exists for the younger generation, female literacy rates are still lower than male rates for the total population due to past inequities, particularly among ethnic minorities. The female literacy rate in 1997 was 89 per cent, while the male rate was 95.1 per cent for the population aged 10 years and above (UNDP 1999). In employment, women made up 51.7 per cent of the labour force in 1998, forming the majority in the self-employed farm and the self-employed nonfarm sectors. In wage employment, including agriculture, manufacturing and services, however, males predominated at 60.4 per cent (GDNWG 1999).
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B. 1.

NATIONAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK Definition of youth

Youth is generally defined in Viet Nam as people aged 15 to 35 years of age. In 1998, youth accounted for 33.2 per cent of the total population, with females making up 50.6 per cent of the youth population. Youth in the 15 to 24 year sub-group made up 59.1 per cent of the total youth population (GSO 1999a and GSO 1998a). The majority of youth (76.5 per cent) lived in the rural areas in 1998. This proportion dropped from 1989, at which time 80.1 per cent of youth lived in the rural areas, due to the increased migration of youth to urban centres seeking employment (GSO 1999a). 2. Background of youth development policy

Youth development in Viet Nam is currently guided by the general policies and laws of various sectors such as education, health and employment, which include youth in their target group. A Law on Youth has been in the making since 1981 but, to date, no comprehensive youth policy exists. The draft youth law has undergone several revisions, due to a comprehensive, participatory review process as well as the rapid political and economic changes experienced by the country over the past two decades. The most recent draft is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly in 2000. 3. Responsible agencies

(a) National Committee for Youth in Viet Nam
The National Committee on Youth of Viet Nam is an inter-ministerial agency responsible for coordination among various ministries concerned with youth issues. The Committee consists of leaders of agencies such as the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union; the Ministry of Education and Training; the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Investment and Planning; and the Ministry of Justice. The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) is the Committee’s primary member.
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The major tasks of the Committee include the following: to research and recommend policies and measures relating to the youth and youth work; to monitor their implementation; and to carry out inter-governmental programmes on youth issues.

(b) Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union
Established in 1931, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) is the oldest and the largest youth organization in Viet Nam. It currently has a membership of 3.5 million throughout the country. The structure of the HCYU consists of a Central Executive Committee at the national level; 61 Executive Committees at the provincial and city levels, including 5 affiliated unions; 650 Executive Committees at the district level; 23,000 Executive Committees at the commune and precinct level; and 160,000 union branches at the hamlet and village levels. Its leadership is elected at a National Congress held every five years. Five-year plans are also adopted at each National Congress of the HCYU. The HCYU has a large mandate. It is a collective member of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, and it has members in the National Assembly of Viet Nam. The HCYU is also a reserve force2 for the Communist Party of Viet Nam as well as a revolutionary vanguard force.3 In relation to youth policy, the HCYU has the following functions: • • • To participate in the research and drafting of all policies related to youth; To coordinate among its members and functional units in the study and analysis of draft policies related to youth; To synthesize the comments and proposed amendments by its members and functional units and to submit them to the National Assembly;

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Candidates for membership in the CPVN. A group of volunteers who act as pioneers in the implementation of Communist Party policies.

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To disseminate the content of youth policies among its members once they have been approved through the mass media and the organization of study groups; and To develop and implement youth programmes based on the government’s youth policies.

Youth are actively involved in the formulation and implementation of related policies and programmes through the HCYU. Awareness about youth-related matters is created with the use of the mass media including national television broadcasts, national and local radio programmes and newspapers. The HCYU also disseminates information through its own newspapers and publications. Study groups organized by the HCYU allow for both increased understanding of related policies as well as a channel for youth to voice their opinions with respect to the policies. 4. Youth development policies and plans The Law on Youth of Viet Nam has not yet been promulgated and therefore, the contents of the law have not been publicized. By sector, a multitude of general policies exist which include youth, but are not always youth-specific. These policies will be elaborated upon under the relevant sectors in the subsequent chapters of the monograph. With regard to youth-specific plans, the HCYU issues an Action Plan every five years at its National Congress. The Seventh National Congress of the HCYU, held in December 1997, endorsed the following plan with seven major objectives: • • • • To provide youth with ideological education and to engage them in building an advanced culture imbued with national identity; To enable youth to study creatively and to master science and technology subjects; To encourage youth to volunteer in the implementation of key national programmes and projects; To assist youth to help each other in establishing themselves and to participate in socio-economic development;
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• • •

To have youth carry out their duties in national defense; To protect, care for and educate youth; and To integrate youth into the international community and to strengthen the international relations of the HCYU.

Each local youth union is charged to develop and implement activities based on these major aims laid out by the HCYU. 5. Programmes for youth

Government programmes for youth development are run through various ministries. Of the agencies specifically focussed on youth, the HCYU is the largest. In 1999, the Vietnamese government allocated approximately D 230 billion to youth-specific projects executed by the HCYU. The HCYU runs six major programmes for youth including the programme of action for youth development; the youth programme in agricultural and rural development; the youth programme for the development of industry and services; the youth programme in development and improvement of social environment; the youth programme in national defense and protection of social order and security; and the programme of youth international cooperation and exchange. (i) Programme of Action for Youth Development

The Programme of Action for Youth Development fosters talents among students through education and training, scholarships, knowledge contests, learning clubs and interest clubs. Skills training programmes and job placements are also offered to youth. Literacy and functional literacy classes are provided for youth under this programme, particularly in remote areas. Cultural and sport activities are also held to develop the personality, physical strength and national cultural characteristics of youth. (ii) Programme in Agricultural and Rural Development

Agricultural stimulus centres have been established by the Programme in Agricultural and Rural Development to assist youth in the development of agricultural skills as well as to introduce scientific and technological applications to the production process. Youth are also provided with loans to assist in the creation of employment as well as to develop production. Under
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this programme, youth have been hired to assist the state in rural development projects. Some of these have included the project of re-greening five million hectares of barren hills and uncultivated lands; the project of exploiting coastal deposits; and the project of building a youth island district. The spirit of voluntarism has also been cultivated by the Programme in Agricultural and Rural Development, through the implementation of rural development projects involving youth volunteers. (iii) Youth Programme for the Development of Industry and Services

Projects are organized under the Youth Programme for the Development of Industry and Services to enhance the skills of youth through workers’ skills competitions, scientific technical clubs, and funds to assist youth in scientific and technical endeavours. (iv) Youth Programme in Development of Social Environment and Improvement

The Youth Programme in Development and Improvement of Social Environment includes projects related to population, health, the environment, information, education and communication. Education activities to prevent and combat drug abuse and sexual abuse are also contained within this programme. Furthermore, street children, disabled youth and other children living in difficult circumstances have been targeted by this programme through humanitarian activities. (v) Youth Programme in National Defense and Protection of Social Order and Security Under the Youth Programme in National Defense and Protection of Social Order and Security, youth are mobilized to join the armed forces. Care and assistance has also been provided to the families of victims of conflict and of heroes through this programme. Other activities include the organization of youth shock brigades; red banner youth brigades;4 and education clubs on crime prevention among youth.

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(vi)

Programme of Youth International Cooperation and Exchange

International dialogues with youth organizations throughout the world, participation in international conferences and fora on youth issues, and international cross-cultural exchange programmes, are all contained in the Programme of Youth International Cooperation and Exchange. Also under this programme, the HCYU implements human resources development activities for youth in the areas of health; environmental protection; skills training; culture; sports; drug prevention; sexual abuse prevention; and humanitarian projects. These projects are run in collaboration with United Nations agencies, as well as international, regional and national governmental and non-governmental organizations. C. CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH POLICY

The living standards of Vietnamese people, including youth, have improved dramatically following a series of economic reforms ushered in by the Renovation. Improvements have been noted in all human resources development sectors, including education, health and employment. Youth have been an essential component in this economic success. The youth development framework is extensive in Viet Nam with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union as the main pillar. Its membership of 3.5 million extends to villages throughout the country, ensuring that youth at the local level can voice their opinions and be heard at the national level. The HCYU, charged with drafting the Law on Youth, has engaged young people throughout the country in this process. Due to the rapid changes Viet Nam has experienced over the past two decades, the law has undergone several drafts. Once approved by the National Assembly, this law would create the conditions to consolidate work on youth issues, thereby enhancing the current efforts of the state in this area.

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Youth Education

II

A. 1.

NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY Background

The education system in Viet Nam has undergone a series of major reforms since 1945. Prior to that year, education in the country was modeled on the French system, which was established in 1917 with the promulgation of the first law on education. That law abolished the Chinese-based education system and provided primary education for a small proportion of the population, as well as skills training for workers and technicians. In 1945, more than 95 per cent of the population of 22 million was illiterate (Pham 1998). The August revolution of 1945 brought education to the forefront of the government agenda. The new government initiated a successful nationwide literacy campaign and set out to reform the education system. Due to the resistance against France, however, such reforms were not instituted until 1950, when a new education system was introduced in the liberated zones. The main elements of the reforms were the establishment of a 9-year general education system in the Vietnamese language; a non-formal education system for adults that paralleled the formal school system; a vocational education system; and a higher education system in the areas of medicine, teaching and civil service (Pham 1998). In 1975, Viet Nam emerged from two long conflicts, first with France, and later with the United States of America. The North and the South of the country had two differing education systems. The process leading to their integration began in 1979 with the issuance of the 14th Resolution of the
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Political Bureau of the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPVN). This Resolution recognized education as an important component in the ideological and cultural revolution, as well as an essential factor in the development of the economy and the country. Some of the aims laid out in the resolution were to enable all children from the age of six years to attend school for 12 years; to universalize senior secondary education among workers, peasants and all labourers including ethnic people; and to improve linkages between education and economic production and society. As Viet Nam’s economic and political system was influenced by the Soviet system until 1986, so too was the education system. With the Renovation of 1986, which brought about a change in foreign policy, and the introduction of an open multi-sector, market-oriented economy under state management in 1992, reforms in the education sector followed suit. 2. Education reform since 1986 Reforms in the education system took place following the Renovation, which was initiated by the CPVN at its Sixth Congress in 1986 as well as the strategy of socio-economic stabilization and development to the year 2000, introduced by the CPVN at its Seventh Congress in 1991. These reforms are outlined in the resolutions of two major plenums: the Fourth Plenum of the CC of the CPVN (VII Tenure);1 and the Second Plenum of the CC of the CPVN (VIII Tenure). The policy was also substantiated by the Constitution of 1992. Specific time-bound objectives on education and training are laid out in the Draft Strategy on Education and Training 1996 of the Ministry of Education and Training.

(a) Fourth Plenum of the CC of the CPVN (VII Tenure)
The decision to overhaul the education and training system was issued for the first time in a resolution of the CPVN at the Fourth Plenum of the CC of the CPVN held in 1993. Some of the major policies and measures found in the resolution are outlined below. The resolution stipulated that the percentage of budget allocation for education and training would be gradually increased. Reasonable contributions to education and training should also be mobilized from citizens of all social strata, community groups and other domestic and foreign sources.

1

A tenure refers to a five-year period, following a Congress of the CPVN.

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Efforts would be made to ensure that by 2000 the majority of children aged 5 years would be enrolled in pre-school education. Illiteracy among youth aged 15 to 35 years of age would be eliminated, and illiteracy in other age groups would be reduced. Primary education would be made universal throughout the country, particularly for those children aged 6 to 14 years. Public schools would be improved, and some would be transformed into semi-public (partly government funded) schools. The establishment of people-founded (private) schools and classes would be encouraged. Private pre-school classes, vocational schools including trade-training and vocational secondary schools, and colleges would be allowed under the resolution; however, private schools in general education would not be allowed. Incentives would be given to institutions that offer part-time education and training courses. Self-learning activities would also be encouraged. Eligible people would be provided with access to education, examinations and would be free to choose their schools, teachers and professions whether in Viet Nam or abroad. The school system would be restructured in order to enhance the efficiency of investments, physical infrastructure and teachers. Universities, colleges and research institutes would be restructured so as to link the former two closely to the latter. The number of research students would also be increased. A contingent of intellectuals in fields such as science and technology, culture and arts, economics and social management would be developed. A contingent of public officials and public servants at all administrative levels would also be developed. Material and spiritual incentives would be provided to teachers in order to encourage intelligent people to take up the teaching profession. Special incentives, such as a good salary and other allowances, would be provided to teachers who teach work in remote areas or under difficult conditions (CPVN 1993).

(b) Second Plenum of the CC of the CPVN (VIII Tenure)
The Second Plenum of the CC of the CPVN adopted resolutions on education and training in line with the policy introduced by the Fourth Plenum of the CC of the CPVN. Additional policies on education will be highlighted below. The resolution of the Plenum stated that secondary school education would be made universal in major cities, in industrial estates and in other areas with appropriate conditions. Also, a new secondary
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school system would be formulated in order to prepare some students to continue their studies and other to take up a career upon graduation. Labour skills training and career orientation would be provided for students to combine general schooling with vocational training. At the higher education level, specialized colleges and high-quality general colleges would be set up. Particular emphasis would be given to foreign language and informatics training in schools. In difficulty-stricken areas and regions populated with ethnic minority groups, the number of boarding schools would be increased. Importance would be attached to family education. Trade-training centres and technical-training-cum career orientation centres would be established so that technical training could gradually be increased, producing highly skilled workers. Individual-founded and private trade-training classes are to be developed and in-house trade-training in enterprises is to be encouraged to boost the number of under-graduates and post-graduates trained abroad and at international-training institutions at home. Private school students would be encouraged to study abroad. Labourers would be trained in business management, and the professional skills and knowledge of women workers in particular is to be upgraded (CPVN 1997).

(c) Constitution of 1992
Education is mentioned under two articles of the Constitution of 1992: Article 35 and Article 59. Article 35 states that: Education and training are top priority policies. The State develops educational work with a view to heighten the people’s spirit, train human resources, and foster talent (SRV 1993). Under Article 59 education and training for all are encouraged as follows: The citizen has both the right and the duty to receive training and instruction. Primary education is compulsory and provided free of charge. Citizens have the right to receive general education and vocational training in various ways. With regard to school students with special aptitudes, the State and society shall create conditions for them to blossom. The State shall enact policies regarding tuition fees and scholarships. The State and society shall create the necessary conditions for handicapped children to acquire general knowledge and appropriate job training (SRV 1993).
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(d) Guidelines and Objectives of Education and Training in Viet Nam 1996-2020
The Draft Guidelines and Objectives of Education and Training in Viet Nam 1996-2020, developed by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) in 1996, provides specific objectives for the government in the area of education and training. The overall objectives of education and training for the period 1996 to 2020 as outlined in the Draft Guidelines and Objectives include the following: • • • To raise the education and training system of Viet Nam to meet international standards; To heighten the overall quality of training; and To prepare Vietnamese workers for the industrialization and modernization of the country in order to heighten their contribution.

Specifically, the Draft Guidelines and Objectives seek to upgrade the educational standard of the population in the following ways: • • To increase the literacy rate of people aged over 15 years from 89 per cent in 1996 to 94 per cent by 2000 and 97 per cent by 2020; To increase the school enrolment among people aged below 24 years from 47 per cent in 1996 to 60 per cent by 2010 and to 80 per cent by 2020. People aged 25 years and above should have on average nine years of schooling by 2020 as compared to five years in 1996; To increase school enrolment for all age groups from 1996 to 2020; To increase the percentage of tertiary students aged 17 to 23 years from 2.2 per cent in 1996 to 20 per cent by 2010 and to 25 per cent by 2020; To increase the number of graduates at the Master’s level, post-graduate diploma level, and Ph.D. levels; and To upgrade the quality international standards. of work of scientists to regional and

• • • •

The Draft Guidelines and Objectives have the following aims with regard to human resources development: • To increase the percentage of students who have access to career orientation from 10 per cent in 1996 to 20 per cent by 2000 and to 30 per cent by 2020;
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• •

To increase the percentage of trained labour from 12 per cent in 1996 to 25 per cent by 2000 and to 60 per cent by 2020; To increase the percentage of scientific and technological researchers holding bachelor degrees from 15 per 1,000 persons in 1996, to 25 per 1,000 persons by 2000, and to 50 per 1,000 persons by 2020; To restore the number of students and research students studying abroad in 2000 to the 1990 level; To increase the percentage of key researchers in the field of science and technology and regulators in various sectors which have access to shortterm and long-term training from 10 per cent in 1996 to 20 per cent by 2010 and to 30 per cent by 2020; and To enrol 3,500 to 4,000 candidates annually in higher education at the Master’s level, and 1,000 to 1,500 in post-graduate education so that by 2000 there would be 10,000 to 11,000 Master’s degree graduates and 4,500 to 5,000 Ph.D. graduates (MOET 1996b).

• •

Viet Nam has made significant achievements in the field of education since the institution of the stated educational reforms. These will be highlighted in the sections to follow on Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis. 3. Government budget allocation for education and training

From 1990 to 1993, the government budget allocation for education and training was 7.4 per cent, 9.3 per cent, 7.9 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively. Following the Fourth Plenum of the CC of the CPVN (VII Tenure) in December 1993 and the Second Plenum of the CC of the CPVN (VIII Tenure), education and training’s share of the budget increased so that by 1997-1998, the share allocated to education and training was 12.8 per cent (see Table 2.1) (MOET 1999a). The amount allocated to education and training in 1997-1998 was D 9,973,792 million with 74.3 per cent to the former and 25.7 per cent to the latter. Education received D 7.400 billion, of which primary education received the largest budget at 42.1 per cent, followed by junior secondary education at 25.7 per cent, other at 13.1 per cent, senior secondary education at 11.6 per cent and pre-school education at 7.5 per cent (MOET 1998).
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Table 2-1: Government budget allocation within education and training by sub-sector (in per cent) in 1997-1998
Sector
Education

Sub-sector
Total Pre-school education Primary education Junior secondary education Senior secondary education Other Total Trade training Secondary vocational Tertiary and higher education Post-graduate education Other

1997-1998
100.0 7.5 42.1 25.7 11.6 13.1 100.0 14.6 18.1 45.2 2.8 19.3

Training

Source: MOET 1998.

Of the D 2.600 billion allocated to training, tertiary and higher education received the highest share at 45.2 per cent, followed by other at 19.3 per cent, secondary vocational education at 18.1 per cent, and trade training at 14.6 per cent. Post-graduate education was allocated the smallest proportion of the training budget at 2.8 per cent (MOET 1998). B. THE EDUCATION SYSTEM 1. Formal education

(a) Structure
The education system in Viet Nam is divided into four levels: pre-school education; general education, which includes primary education, junior secondary education, and senior secondary education; vocational education; and tertiary education (see Figure 1). Pre-school education consists of kindergarten for infants from 3 to 36 months of age, and pre-schooling for children aged three years and older for a period of three years.
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Figure 1:

Structure of the national education system

Tertiary education Post graduate level Ph.D degree
!

Higher education
!

Stage 2 Tertiary 4-6 years Stage 1
!

Post-grad. (3 years)
!

!

General education Adv. Second (3 years)
!

Vocational training
! !

Second trade (3-4 years)
!

Second vocat. (3-4 years)
!

Trade train. (1-2 years)
!

Secondary education (4 years)
!

Trade train. (1 year)
!

Primary education (5 years)
!

Pre-school education Pre-school class (3 years)
!

Kindergarten (3 years)

Source: MOET-based on Decree 90/CP of the Prime Minister dated 23 Jan 1993.
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General education includes primary education for children aged six years2 from Grade 1 to Grade 5; junior secondary education for children aged 11 years from Grade 6 to Grade 9; and senior secondary education for children aged 15 years from Grade 10 to Grade 12. In general education, students must pass examinations at the end of Grade 5, Grade 9, and Grade 12, in order to receive a primary education certificate, a junior secondary education certificate, and a general education certificate respectively. Vocational education comprises post-primary education trade training, post-junior secondary trade training, and secondary vocational education. Post-primary education trade training schools accepts students aged 13 to 14 years for a period of less than one year. Upon completing the training and an examination, the trainees are awarded a trade certificate. Students aged 15 years and above who hold a junior secondary education certificate are eligible to enrol in one of the two programmes: secondary trade training for a period of three to four years; and secondary vocational school for three to four years. Students who successfully complete the programmes are awarded a secondary trade certificate and a secondary vocational certificate respectively. Tertiary education includes higher education, university education, postgraduate education, and Ph.D. degree. Higher education accepts student aged 18 years and above holding a general education certificate or a secondary vocational education certificate, for a period of three years. Students are granted a higher education diploma upon successful completion. Universities admit students aged 18 years and above, holding a general education certificate or a secondary vocational education certificate, for a period of four to six years. Successful students are granted a diploma or a Bachelor’s degree. Post-graduate education is for university graduates and lasts for a period of two years. Students who successfully complete the programme receive a post-graduate diploma or a Master’s degree. The Ph.D. programme is open to students holding a Master’s degree or a post-graduate diploma. The duration of the Ph.D. programme is two to four years. Successful students are granted a Ph.D. degree.

2

Gifted children can be admitted into primary or secondary school before the specified age. 19

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(b) Responsible government agencies
The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) plays the central role in the management of the education and training system in Viet Nam. The departments responsible for specific areas of study include the Department of “Young Shoot” Education, the Department of Primary Education, the Department of Secondary Education, the Department of Secondary Vocational Education and Craft-Teaching, the Department of Permanent Education, the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Post-graduate Studies. Several ministries are responsible for the management of specialized institutions of higher learning. They include the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the General Department of Gymnastics and Sports. 2. Non-formal education

Non-formal education takes two major forms in Viet Nam: illiteracy eradication programmes; and complementary education. In 1990, the International Year against Illiteracy, Viet Nam established the National Committee for Illiteracy Eradication. The two goals of the committee for the decade 19912000 were to eradicate illiteracy in Viet Nam and to universalize primary education (Pham 1998). Particular attention was to be paid to disadvantaged groups, including children of ethnic minorities, disabled children, orphans, and street children. Furthermore, women and girls in the general population, as well as within these disadvantaged groups, were to be targeted. Females had been denied equal access to education by their families in the past due to gender stereotypes. The National Committee for Illiteracy Eradication has organized the illiteracy eradication campaign through branches operating at the local level as well as mass organizations such as the Peasants’ Association, the Women’s Union, the Youth Union, and the Fatherland Front. The committee had enlisted the support of teachers, students and retired persons alike in their campaign. Complementary education, or adult education, was instituted in Viet Nam in 1946 and is managed by the Ministry of Education and Training. This form of education consists of several levels: the first level being equivalent
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to primary education; the second level equal to junior secondary education; and the third equating with senior secondary education. Practical courses have also been organized in subjects such as animal husbandry, cultivation techniques and child rearing (Pham 1998). At the higher education level, learning by correspondence is the main modality used in non-formal education. Courses include short-term training programmes such as foreign language instruction and applied informatics as well as long-term training programmes in academic subjects. C. 1. QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS Primary education

(a) Primary enrolment rates
Following the Renovation in 1986, private schools, people-founded schools, and semi-public schools were introduced in Viet Nam, expanding schooling opportunities for students throughout the country. This proliferation of educational services has resulted in positive results in enrolment. The gross primary enrolment rates for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 were 105.7 per cent and 110.7 per cent respectively, while the net enrolment rates for the same years were 78 per cent and 93 per cent respectively (see Table 2-2). The improvement in net enrolment rate represents an increase in the proportion of primary school students in the right age group. Net enrolment rates increased in both urban and rural areas from 1992-1993 to 1997-1998, from 86 per cent to 94 per cent in the former and from 77 per cent to 92 per cent in the latter.
Table 2-2: Gross enrolment and net enrolment rates for primary education for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
Net enrolment Year
1992-1993 1997-1998
Source: GSO 2000.
21

Gross enrolment Urban
105.7 110.7 86.0 94.0

Rural
77.0 92.0

Whole country
78.0 93.0

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YOUTH IN VIET NAM: A REVIEW OF THE YOUTH SITUATION NATIONAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

Overall, the proportion of female students at the primary level increased slightly from 46.2 per cent in 1992-1993 to 47.6 per cent in 1997-1998. Overall regional variations were minimal. In two regions, however, the north-west and the north-central coast, female participation decreased slightly from 1992-1993 to 1997-1998 (see Table 2-3).
Table 2-3: Percentage of female students at the primary level by region for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998
Year
19921993 19971998

Red River Delta
46.1 49.0

North- North- North- South- Central South- Mekong Whole east west central central Higheast Delta country coast coast lands
44.5 47.4 45.3 43.1 50.1 48.9 46.8 46.9 41.7 45.3 47.6 47.6 44.7 47.2 46.2 47.6

Source: GSO 2000.

A large gap existed between the net enrolment rates of poor and of rich children in 1992-1993, at 68 per cent for the former and 86 per cent for the latter. This gap narrowed in 1997-1998 to 89 per cent and 96 per cent respectively (see Table 2-4).
Table 2-4: Net enrolment rates for primary education by income level for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
Year
1992-1993 1997-1998

Poor
68.0 89.0

Poor to middle
77.0 93.0

Middle
81.0 95.0

Middle to rich
85.0 93.0

Rich
86.0 96.0

Whole country
78.0 93.0

Source: GSO 2000.

(b) Drop-out rates
The overall drop-out rate for primary school fell from 7.5 per cent in 19921993 to 5.8 per cent in 1997-1998. Drop-out rates decreased in all regions of the country, except the north-west. In 1997-1998, the lowest drop-out rates were found in the Red River Delta, followed by the south-central coast, the south-east, the north-central coast and the north-east. The highest drop-out rates were recorded in the north-west, followed by the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands (see Table 2-5).
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Table 2-5:

Drop-out rates for primary education by region for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)

Year
19921993 19971998

Red River Delta
2.9 1.9

North- North- North- South- Central South- Mekong Whole east west central central Higheast Delta country coast coast lands
10.6 5.4 11.3 13.6 6.5 5.3 7.7 3.9 12.5 9.0 8.7 4.0 14.1 11.9 7.5 5.8

Source: GSO 2000.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training in 1996 showed that the primary cause of drop-outs at the primary level was financial difficulties, experienced by 50 per cent of respondents, followed by poor educational attainment at 18 per cent, lack of self-discipline at 10 per cent, other causes at 8 per cent, health problems and lack of desire to learn at 5 per cent each, and lack of sufficient parental supervision at 4 per cent (Department of Statistics 1996).

(c) Repetition rates
Repetition rates at the primary level fell in all regions of the country from 1992-1993 to 1997-1998. Nonetheless, a difference among regions were found. The lowest repetition rates in the latter year were found in the Red River Delta, the north-central coast, the north-east, the Mekong Delta, and the south-east while the highest rates were found in the north-west followed by the Central Highlands and the south-central coast (see Table 2-6).
Table 2-6: Repetition rates for primary education by region for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
North- North- North- South- Central South- Mekong Whole east west central central Higheast Delta country coast coast lands
8.4 4.4 11.3 5.9 5.3 1.8 11.2 5.3 7.6 5.8 8.8 4.8 12.0 4.6 7.7 3.6

Year
19921993 19971998

Red River Delta
3.4 0.7

Source: GSO 2000.
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(d) Completion rates
Completion rates at the primary level rose from 46.6 per cent in 1992-1993 to 66.1 per cent in 1997-1998. In 1992-1993, completion rates were very low in the north-west, the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands, at 18.9 per cent, 28.1 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. Despite improvements by 1997-1998, completion rates in these regions were still low at 53.3 per cent, 48.5 per cent and 53 per cent respectively (see Table 2-7). The highest completion rates in 1997-1998 were found in the Red River Delta, followed by the north-central coast, the south-central coast, the southeast and the north-east.
Table 2-7: Completion rates for primary education by region for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
North- North- North- South- Central South- Mekong Whole east west central central Higheast Delta country coast coast lands
46.6 68.1 18.9 53.3 49.6 73.8 50.8 73.2 37.0 53.0 50.8 68.9 28.1 48.5 46.6 66.1

Year
19921993 19971998

Red River Delta
72.0 90.9

Source: GSO 2000.

2. Secondary education

(a) Secondary enrolment rates
Gross junior secondary enrolment rates increased steadily from 43.5 per cent in 1992-1993 to 71.9 per cent in 1997-1998 (GSO 2000). The corresponding net enrolment rates were lower at 36 per cent and 59 per cent respectively (MOET 1996 and MOET 1999). The total number of students rose from 2.8 million in 1992-1993 to 5.2 million in 1997-1998 (GSO 2000). Enrolment rates at the senior secondary level were much lower. The gross enrolment rate was 12.9 per cent in 1992-1993 and 28.2 per cent by 19971998 (GSO 2000) while the net enrolment rates for the same years were 11.0 per cent and 27 per cent respectively (see Table 2-8) (MOET 1996 and MOET 1999). The total number of students grew steadily from 0.57 million in 1992-1993 to 1.4 million in 1997-1998 (GSO 2000).
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Table 2-8: Gross enrolment and net enrolment rates for secondary education by level for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
Year
1992-1993 1997-1998 1992-1993 1997-1998
Source: GSO 2000.

Level
Junior Junior Senior Senior secondary secondary secondary secondary

Gross enrolment
43.5 71.9 12.9 28.1

Net enrolment
36.0 59.0 11.0 27.0

The factors that contributed to the rapid growth in enrolment rates include the success of government programmes on hunger elimination and poverty alleviation, and the expansion of educational services with the introduction of private and other forms of education after 1993. (i) Secondary enrolment rate by area

Access to education and equity of education are still major issues in Viet Nam. Despite impressive gains in recent years, net enrolment rates and the quality of education of poor students and those living in rural areas are still much lower than that of rich students and those who live in urban areas. The net enrolment rate for junior secondary education in urban areas was 56 per cent in 1992-1993, compared to 32 per cent in rural areas. These figures climbed to 81 per cent and 56 per cent in 1997-1998 respectively (see Table 2-9). At the senior secondary level, the net enrolment rate for urban areas was 29 per cent and 7 per cent in rural areas. By 1997-1998, these proportions rose to 57 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
Table 2-9: Net enrolment rates for secondary education by level and by area for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
Year
1992-1993 1997-1998 1992-1993 1997-1998

Level
Junior Junior Senior Senior secondary secondary secondary secondary

Urban
56 81 29 57

Rural
32 56 7 20

Whole country
36 59 11 27

Source: GSO and MOLISA 1999 and GSO and MOLISA 1994.
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(ii)

Secondary enrolment rate by region

Gross secondary school enrolment rates differ substantially by region in Viet Nam. In 1992-1993, gross junior secondary enrolment rates were the highest in the Red River Delta, followed by the south-central coast, the south-east and the north-central coast. The north-west recorded the lowest rates followed by the Mekong Delta, the Central Highlands and the north-central coast. Significant improvements were made in all regions by 1997-1998, particularly in the Central Highlands, the north-west, the north-central coast and the north-east. Those provinces which had female participation rates which exceeded the national average in 1997-1998 included the Red River Delta, the north-central coast, the south-central coast, the north-east and the south-east. The lowest rates were found in the Mekong Delta, the north-west and the Central Highlands. Similar patterns were found at the senior secondary level, with the Red River Delta having the highest gross enrolment rate in 1992-1993 followed by the south-east and the south-central coast. Below the national average were the north-west with the lowest rate, followed by the Central Highlands, the Mekong Delta, the north-east and the north-central coast.
Table 2-10: Gross enrolment rates for secondary education by level and by region for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
Red North- South- Central River North- North- central central High- South- Mekong Whole Delta east west coast coast lands east Delta country
39.4 74.3 10.3 29.3 24.4 53.9 6.6 17.3 43.7 83.9 11.2 29.3 53.0 77.1 14.1 31.3 33.0 70.0 8.0 23.2 47.2 73.3 17.1 30.7 30.8 48.2 8.4 18.3 43.5 71.9 12.9 28.2

Year

Level

1992-1993 Junior 60.2 secondary 1997-1998 Junior 92.5 secondary 1992-1993 Senior 19.2 secondary 1997-1998 Senior 36.9 secondary
Source: GSO 2000.
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In 1997-1998, gross senior secondary enrolment rates had increased regions, with an almost three-fold rise in the north-east, the Central lands, the north-west and the north-central coast. The Red River continued to record the highest rate followed by the south-central the north-east and the north-central coast. The lowest rates were in the north-west, followed by the Mekong Delta and the Central lands. (iii) Proportion of students by sex and by region

in all HighDelta coast, found High-

The proportion of female students to male students increased slightly from 45.7 per cent to 46.4 per cent at the junior secondary level and from 45.1 per cent to 45.5 per cent at the senior secondary level between 1992-1993 and 1997-1998. Slight fluctuations existed by region, with the south-east, the Red River Delta, the north-central coast and the south-central coast having the highest proportion of female students, and the Central Highlands, the Mekong Delta, the north-west and the north-east, recording the lowest in 1992-1993 (see Table 2-11). By 1997-1998, significant gains were made in the Central Highlands and the north-east with regards to female enrolment in junior secondary school. In this year, the south-east, the Red River Delta and the north-east registered above the national average while the Mekong Delta had the lowest female representation, followed by the north-west, the south-central coast, the Central Highlands and the north-central coast.
Table 2-11: Percentage of female students in secondary school by level and by region for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998
Red North- South- Central River North- North- central central High- South- Mekong Whole Delta east west coast coast lands east Delta country
45.6 47.0 45.5 45.5 43.0 45.2 47.4 41.1 46.1 46.3 43.3 44.2 45.7 46.1 42.3 43.1 42.4 46.2 43.7 40.2 47.6 47.8 49.6 50.2 42.5 43.2 41.1 42.6 45.7 46.4 45.1 45.5

Year

Level

1992-1993 Junior 47.1 secondary 1997-1998 Junior 47.6 secondary 1992-1993 Senior 45.5 secondary 1997-1998 Senior 46.5 secondary
Source: GSO 2000.

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Female participation at the senior secondary level was almost equal to that at the junior secondary level at 45.1 per cent in 1992-1993 and 45.5 per cent in 1997-1998. The highest rate of female participation in senior secondary school was found in the south-east followed by the north-west, the Red River Delta and the north-east. The lowest rates were found in the Central Highlands, the north-west, the Mekong Delta, the north-central coast. The sex ratios either remained constant or increased between 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 in all regions with the exception of the north-west and the Central Highlands, where the proportion of females decreased. In the southeast, female participation increased to 50.2 per cent in 1997-1998 followed by the Red River Delta and the north-east. The lowest participation rates were found in the Central Highlands, followed by the north-west, the Mekong Delta, the south-central coast, and the north-central coast. (iv) Secondary enrolment rate by income group

The net enrolment rate of poor students in junior and senior secondary schools rose continuously from 1992-1993 to 1997-1998, yet large gaps remained among students of varying income groups. At the junior secondary level, the net enrolment rate for poor families rose from 19 per cent in 1992-1993 to 42 per cent in 1997-1998 while the net enrolment rate for rich families increased from 56 per cent to 79 per cent during the same period (see Table 2-12). At the senior secondary school level, net enrolment rates for poor families were very low in both 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 at two per cent and eight per cent respectively. The corresponding figures for rich families were 28 per cent in 1992-1993 and 58 per cent in 1997-1998.
Table 2-12: Net enrolment rates for secondary education by level and by income group for 1992-1993 and 1997-1998 (in per cent)
Year
1992-1993 1997-1998 1992-1993 1997-1998

Level
Junior Junior Senior Senior secondary secondary secondary secondary

Poor
19 42 2 8

Poor to Middle middle
26 58 3 20 36 58 7 18

Middle to rich
44 68 13 29

Rich
56 79 28 58

Whole country
36 59 11 27

Source: GSO and MOLISA 1999 and GSO and MOLISA 1994.
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A large gap exists with regard to investment in education between poor and rich families. Children of wealthier families often have access to better schools and to private tutors who provide them with additional instruction. As a result, they tend to perform better in school and therefore, have greater chances of advancing in education.

(b) Drop-out rates
The proportion of drop-outs decreased at both the junior secondary level and the senior secondary level from 1996-1997 to 1998-1999, from 9.2 per cent to 8.5 per cent and from 9 per cent to 5.7 per cent respectively (see Table 2-13). The proportion of repeaters also decreased slightly from 2.4 per cent to 2.3 per cent from 1996-1997 to 1998-1999 in junior secondary school, and from 1.4 per cent to 1.3 per cent in the same period in senior secondary school. The corresponding rates of graduates at junior and senior secondary school were 88.4 per cent and 89.6 per cent in 1996-1997, and 89.2 per cent and 93 per cent in 1998-1999 respectively.
Table 2-13: Percentage of class graduates, repeaters and drop-outs in junior secondary school and senior secondary school from 1996-1999
Junior secondary education School year
1996-1997 1997-1998 1998-1999

Senior secondary education Class graduates
89.6 93.0 93.0

Class graduates
88.4 89.2 89.2

Repeaters
2.4 2.3 2.3

Drop-outs
9.2 8.5 8.5

Repeaters
1.4 1.3 1.3

Drop-outs
9.0 5.7 5.7

Source: MOET 1999a.

According to research conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training, the primary cause of drop-outs at the junior secondary level was financial difficulties, followed by poor educational attainment and lack of discipline. At the senior secondary level, poor educational attainment was cited as the primary cause of drop-out followed by financial difficulties, lack of selfdiscipline and no desire to learn (see Table 2-14).
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Table 2-14: Major causes of drop-out among youth (in per cent)
National Causes Junior secondary
35 31 12 9 3 3 7

Rural All levels
38 28 11 9 3 3 8

Senior secondary
26 33 11 11 4 2 13

Financial difficulties Poor educational attainment Lack of self-discipline No desire to learn Health problems Lack of sufficient parental supervision Others
Source: MOET 1996.

In the rural areas, for all levels of education, financial difficulties were cited as the primary reason for drop-outs, followed by poor educational attainment and lack of self-discipline. 3. Vocational training

During the late 1980s, in the early years of the Renovation, the number of secondary vocational schools decreased due to the financial difficulties faced by the government. Enrolment in this form of education also decreased. Since 1992, the trend has reversed as a result of the diversification of training courses and increased access to general education and skills training for youth. The total number of students enrolled in secondary vocational training increased from 57,613 students in 1992 to 114,266 students in 1998. They were concentrated in three main areas: the Red River Delta at 34.2 per cent; the south-east at 21 per cent and the north-east at 20.6 per cent in 1992. The regions with the fewest enrolled vocational students in 1992 were the Central Highlands at 0.9 per cent of the national total and the north-west at 1.1 per cent (see Table 2-15). In 1998, the proportion of vocational students decreased to 27.5 per cent in the Red River and to 18.5 per cent in the north east, while increasing in the south-east to 25.7 per cent. The percentages of students in the Central Highlands and the north-west remained low.
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Table 2-15:

Distribution of vocational students by region in 1992 and in 1998 (in per cent)

Year
1992 1998

Red River Delta
34.2 27.5

North- North- North- South- Central South- Mekong east west central central Higheast Delta Total coast coast lands
20.6 18.5 1.1 2.1 6.8 10.5 8.5 7.1 0.9 1.6 21.0 25.7 6.9 7.0 100.0 100.0

Source: GSO 2000.

The distribution of students by region reflected the distribution of vocational schools by province. In 1998, 28.9 per cent of vocational training schools were located in the Red River Delta followed by 22.2 per cent in the south-east, 19.4 per cent in the north-east, 11.7 per cent in the north-central coast, 7.7 per cent in the south-central coast, 5.6 per cent in the Mekong Delta, and 2.2 per cent in the north-west as well as in the Central Highlands. 4. Tertiary and higher education

From 1985 to 1987, socio-economic hardships placed a heavy burden on the tertiary education of Viet Nam, resulting in a deterioration of the tertiary education system. Financial investment in tertiary education decreased, educational equipment and resources were inadequate and outdated, teachers suffered from insufficient compensation, and enrolment dropped substantially. Following the Renovation, reform of the tertiary and higher education and the training sector has had the following aims: • To meet the demand for human resources of the state sector and the public service as well as those of the economic sectors and of the society; To acquire funding for education and training from the state as well as other sources; To ensure that education and training is not guided solely by central plans;
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To renew the model, contents, programmes, methods and procedures of education and training to cover a wider knowledge base, with increased teaching in the area of basic sciences. A more flexible study regime should also be introduced. To raise the salary of teachers and to provide students with incentives to study harder such as scholarships or loans especially for poor but studious people.

A total of 116,889 students were enrolled in universities or colleges in the regular system in 1992. This number increased to 401,664 by 1998 (GSO 2000). The enrolment patterns did not change significantly between 1992 and 1998. The highest numbers of university and college students were found in the Red River Delta at 40.4 per cent, followed by the south-east at 28.0 per cent in 1998. The lowest proportion of students at this level was found in the north-west at 0.6 per cent and the Central Highlands at 1.9 per cent for the same year. In 1998, 45.5 per cent of universities and colleges in Viet Nam were concentrated in the Red River Delta, followed by 16.2 per cent in the south-east, 10.6 per cent in the north-east, 8.1 per cent each on the southcentral coast and in the Mekong Delta, 6.5 per cent on the north-central coast at, 3.3 per cent in the Central Highlands and 1.6 per cent in the north-west.
Table 2-16: Distribution of regular system university and college students by region in 1992 and in 1998 (in per cent)
North- North- North- South- Central South- Mekong east west central central Higheast Delta Total coast coast lands
7.4 6.4 0.2 0.6 9.2 7.1 8.0 8.8 1.7 1.9 29.5 28.0 6.2 6.8 100.0 100.0

Year
1992 1998

Red River Delta
37.8 40.4

Source: GSO 2000.

5.

Non-formal education

Non-formal education in Viet Nam is specifically designed to provide education to those people who did not have the opportunity to attend formal education and those who dropped-out of school, including disadvantaged youth. As a result of the national programme for illiteracy
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elimination carried out by the Communist Party and the Government of Vietnam, the number of people participating in literacy classes climbed from 230,000 in 1990 to 279,079 in 1997. The corresponding number of newly literate people in those years rose from 63,158 to 120,768. In total, over 800,000 people became literate in Viet Nam between 1990-1998 (Information Center – MOET 1996, 1999). In 1998, the national standards for primary education universalization and illiteracy elimination were attained in 68.9 per cent of all provinces, in 81.5 per cent of all districts, and 89.5 per cent of all villages and precincts. Significant variations existed by region. In the Red River Delta all nine provinces had attained this standard, but in the Central Highlands none of the provinces had achieved it. In other regions, the standard had been attained in the following percentages of provinces in each region: 83 per cent in the north-central coast and the south-central coast respectively; 69 per cent in the north-east; 67 per cent in the southeast; 64 per cent in the Mekong Delta; and 33 per cent in the northwest. 6. Military service

Military service is compulsory in Viet Nam under Article 77 of the Constitution of 1992 (SRV 1993). The corresponding Law of Military Obligation states that all Vietnamese men have an obligation to serve in the Viet Nam People’s Armed Forces at the age of 18 years, for a period of two years during peacetime. The maximum age of a soldier is 27 years. During peacetime, women can also serve in the army as volunteers in some areas. Exemptions are made for men who are studying in general education, vocational training, secondary vocational school, colleges and state universities. Male teachers, heath care workers, researchers at the state level, the main family income earners and youth in volunteer forces are also not required to carry out military service. Approximately two per cent of male youth aged 18 to 27 years serve in the army. In addition to military training, the young men are required to undergo literacy and vocational training courses. Upon completion of their military obligation, the young men are given a privileged position with regard to further studies and employment.
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7. Literacy The literacy rate for youth in Viet Nam increased from 94 per cent for the period 1989-1994 to 96.7 per cent in 1996. The female youth literacy rate was slightly lower than the male rate at 95.7 per cent and 97.8 per cent respectively in 1998 (Research Institute for Labour Science and Social Affairs). These improvements can be attributed to a rise in the general education level of the youth resulting from illiteracy elimination programmes and the universalization of primary education that began in 1991. The literacy rate for the general population aged 10 years and above was much lower than that of the youth population, particularly among females. This rate for the general population was 88 per cent in 1989. The female literacy rate was 84 per cent while the male literacy rate was 92 per cent in that year (GSO 1999b). D. 1. QUALITATIVE ANAYLSIS Educational personnel

Viet Nam has experienced a shortage of teachers, given the rapid rise in enrolment at all levels of education in the 1990s. The quality of teachers is also insufficient due to a lack of adequate training. Teachers have also been unable to meet the requirements of education reform. Other difficulties faced by teachers have included low salaries that have required them to take up additional jobs, such as tutoring, after school hours. Furthermore, student achievement in teachers’ colleges has been low. The problems with educational personnel were addressed by the Fourth Plenum of the CC of the CPVN held in 1993. As a result, salaries and allowances of teachers were raised, resulting in improvements in the livelihood of the majority of teachers. New policies, such as waiving tuition fees for students in teachers’ colleges, have also helped to attract good students. More efforts in this regard, however, are needed in order to meet the demand in the country for well-educated graduates. 2. Teaching methodology Traditional pedagogic methodology has revolved around teachers. A transformation is currently taking place in teaching methodology to focus on learner-oriented, participatory methods of teaching. Learners are increasingly encouraged to play an active role in their studies and to take initiatives in learning.
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Under the new forms of teaching in Viet Nam, teachers no longer transfer knowledge to students through the provision of ready-made answers. Rather, teachers guide students in their quest for knowledge and truth. In doing so, the teacher prepares students to cope with diversified situations, and is not merely instilling knowledge within them. 3. Physical infrastructure

Difficulties and constraints of the national economy have affected the physical infrastructure of the education and training sector. Although the government has prioritized the education sector, physical infrastructure and other facilities that affect the quality of education have been far from adequate to meet the requirements. Classrooms, textbooks, teaching materials, libraries, laboratories, workshops, and teaching aids such as overhead projectors and language labs, are all in short supply. The economic growth experienced by the country in the 1990s has resulted in increased investment in the education sector by individuals in addition to the government. Schools and universities have been able to mobilize significant resources to improve physical infrastructure. Several schools have been able to equip themselves with computer labs, as well as other teaching aids that help to enhance the quality of education, through the contributions made by parents of the students. E. CHALLENGES FOR EDUCATION POLICY

The diversification of education modes resulting from the reforms has created access to education and knowledge among millions of youth. Significant improvements have been achieved in the education and training sector in Viet Nam as a result of the institution of reforms after the Renovation of 1986, yet numerous challenges still lie ahead. At the primary, secondary and tertiary education levels, enrolments increased significantly from 1992-1993 to 1997-1998 in both rural and urban areas, as well as across income groups and regions. Rural areas still lagged behind urban areas at all levels, however, and enrolment rates among the poor were much lower than those of the rich. By region, the north-west, the Mekong Delta, and the Central Highlands scored the lowest at all levels while the Red River Delta, the south central coast and the south-east recorded the highest rates. Drop-out rates were substantial at all levels of education and
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completion rates were very low due to poverty and financial difficulties faced by the students’ families. Although significant achievements have also been made in the eradication of illiteracy in Viet Nam, again, regional disparities prevail. The quality of education in Viet Nam requires significant upgrading. Efforts are also needed to re-train teachers in participatory education techniques in order to meet the requirements of an industrializing country. These are key areas in the overall development of the country and especially in the development of youth as a major national resource.

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Youth Health

III

A. 1.

YOUTH HEALTH POLICY Background

The health sector in Viet Nam suffered a tremendous blow during the two Indochinese conflicts and the economic recession of the 1980s. Although, in principle, health care was freely accessible to all during the 1980s, the quality was very poor and medical resources were scarce. Between 1990-1997, the majority of the population in Viet Nam still did not have access to safe water supplies (57 per cent) and to sanitation (79 per cent) (UNDP 1999). Also, although the malnutrition rate of children under 5 years of age decreased from 55.0 per cent in 1991 to 36.7 per cent in 1997, the latter rate is still high. By sex, the malnutrition rate was almost equal at 36.9 per cent for males and 36.4 per cent for females (GSO 2000). Malnutrition rates varied considerably by region, with the south-east and the Red River Delta having the lowest malnutrition rates while the south-central coast and the Central Highlands have the highest rates. Since the implementation of the Renovation, the health care situation has improved considerably, yet the availability and quality of health care still require improvements, particularly in rural and remote areas. 2. National health policies The current health policy of Viet Nam is contained in the Resolution of the Conference on Strategic Orientations for the People’s Health Care and Protection to the Years 2000 and 2020, held in April 1996. The policy
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recognizes human beings as the most precious resource in the development of a country. As good health is considered the most valuable asset of every individual as well as of the whole society, investment in health is seen as investment in socio-economic development. The health policy calls for equitable access to health care services. It indicates that the State should provide low-cost or free-of-charge medical services to those people who have made meritorious contributions as well as to disadvantaged people including the poor, those who live in remote areas, and people of ethnic minorities. The policy also stresses proactive prevention strategies, including a healthy living and working environment. Factors that are detrimental to health, particularly during the processes of industrialization and urbanization, should be combated. The combination of modern medicine with traditional Vietnamese medicine is also promoted by the policy. The latter represents part of the cultural heritage of the country that the State would like to protect and further develop. Health care is seen as the responsibility of communities as well as of the Communist Party people’s organizations at all levels. These groups guidance and motivation to the entire society available resources for health care and protection. individuals, families and committees, authorities and are charged with providing as well as mobilizing all

Finally, the policy states that health care should be increasingly diversified in Viet Nam to include the private sector. The state medical sector should play the leading role in this diversification process.

(a) Objectives
The aims of the health policy are to reduce the rate of morbidity in the country, to improve the physical strength of the Vietnamese and to lengthen life expectancy. The objectives by the year 2020 include to provide an equitable, improved and efficient healthcare system; to meet the increasing demands of the population of all strata, including youth; and to elevate the Vietnamese people’s health standards to the average level of other countries in South-East Asia.
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(i)

Target indicators

The health policy established the following indicators to the year 2000 and 2020 to monitor the attainment of its aims and objectives: • • • • • The average life expectancy should increase to 68 years in 2000 and 75 years in 2020; The under-one mortality rate should decrease to 35 per thousand live births in 2000 and to 15 to 18 per thousand live births in 2020; The under-five mortality rate should decrease to 42 per thousand live births in 2000 and to 20 per thousand live births in 2020; The rate of new born babies weighing less than 2,500 grammes should drop to 8 per cent in 2000 and to 5 per cent in 2020; The under-five malnutrition rate should be reduced to 30 per cent in 2000 and to 15 per cent in 2020 and serious malnutrition cases should be eradicated; The height of Vietnamese youth should reach 1.65 metres on average in 2020; and All iodine deficiency disorders should be eliminated by 2005, and the number of children aged 8 to 12 years suffering from goitre should decrease to less than 5 per cent.

• •

(b) Morbidity and mortality
Specific objectives in relation to the reduction in morbidity and mortality rates outlined in the health policy included the following: • • To eliminate infant polio and tetanus through child vaccination during the period 1996-2000; To minimize morbidity and mortality rates resulting from diarrhoea, typhoid, bubonic plague, B-hepatitis and Japanese B encephalitis in the short-term. In the long term, to eradicate those diseases as well as lyssa and malaria by 2020; To intensify examination, detection and effect prevention against diseases and main causes of death such as cancer, cardiac diseases, traffic accidents, mental diseases and occupational diseases;
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• •

To eliminate leprosy, to reduce the incidence of helminthiasis and to minimize tuberculosis by 2000; and To control the spread of HIV/AIDS and to minimize the adverse affects of AIDS in the community.

(c) Health care services
In order to provide an equitable health care system with high quality and efficient care, the following specific objectives were set out by the health policy: • • • To further improve the organization and development of the healthcare network; To promote and to strengthen the local administration of medical systems; To build and adequately equip a complete network of grassroots health stations, with doctors present in 40 per cent of commune dispensaries; midwives or obstetric-paediatric assistant doctors in 100 per cent; and community-based health workers in 100 per cent of them; To further consolidate and develop mobile health teams in mountain, highland and remote areas; To diversify medical services to include public hospitals, joint venture hospitals, people’s hospitals and private hospitals; To continue with the construction of specialized healthcare centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and to later do so in the central regions; and To set up more high-technology centres in the mountainous areas of the North, the North East and the Central Highlands as well as in the Mekong River Delta by 2020.

• • •

(d) Medical personnel
Regarding the strengthening of the capacity of medical personnel, the health policy established objectives as follows: • • • To train and distribute medical personnel equitably across all regions; To promote research and development in medicine; To improve teaching syllabi to meet the requirements of communitybased healthcare;

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• • • •

To train management personnel and technical staff to operate and maintain modern medical equipment; To enhance training and to institute incentives to increase the number of health worker volunteers in the highlands and remote areas; To diversify forms of training provided that their quality is ensured; and To set up long-term training programmes and to establish plans and targets for annual training and re-training.

(e) Investment
For investment in health care, the objectives set by the health policy included the following: • • • To make greater investments in health care services while efficiently utilizing other resources; To continue to collect partial hospital fees and to develop health insurance; To further develop international cooperation and to encourage the mobilization of diverse sources of capital in the form of grants, cooperation, joint ventures, partnership and foreign investment; and To promote scientific and technological research.

(f) Participation in health care
The health policy established participation in health care: • • the following objectives with regard to

To mobilize participation in health care and protection among the public including youth; and To ensure coordination between the health sector and other sectors including mass organizations to provide heath care and protection for the population.

(g) Traditional and modern medicine
With regard to traditional and modern medicine, the following objectives were set by the health policy: • To promote and develop traditional Vietnamese medicine in combination with modern medicine;
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• • •

To ensure the sufficient supply of pharmaceutical drugs and to develop the pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing industry; To coordinate the provision of medicine by the military; and To carry out administrative reforms, in order to effectiveness of state administration in the health sector. improve the

(b) Measures to extend access to health care to the poor
Health care for poor people, particularly those living in rural and remote areas, has been a priority of the State in its efforts to promote an equitable public health care system. The Prime Minister’s Decree No. 135/TTg has identified 1,715 poor communes to receive priority investment in upcoming years. One thousand of these were considered as having special difficulties and in need of preferential support policies. Health stations will be set up and equipped by the state in these communes. Approximately 20 per cent of the Vietnamese population is poor and, as a result of poverty, their health care suffers. People with low incomes can apply for health insurance according to their income level. Hospital fee reduction or exemption can also be sought. For the 4 to 6 per cent of the population that is destitute, hospital fees for medical services are exempt according to the Government issued Decree No. 95/CP on 27 August 1994. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs also issued an executive circular stipulating that destitute people were entitled to health insurance cards worth D 20,000 per year. These cards were financed by the budgeted social insurance expenditures, allocated annually from local budgets as well as from donations from the Red Cross and other charity organizations. B. NATIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM 1. Structure

Health care is managed by the Ministry of Health and by the Provincial Health Office in Viet Nam. In 1998, the Ministry of Health managed 27 hospitals while the Provincial Health Office managed 732 hospitals, 1,027 polyclinics, and 10,078 health centres. The distribution varied by province as is shown in Table 3-1.
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Table 3-1: Number of hospitals, sanitoria, polyclinics and health centres managed by the Provincial Health Office by region in 1990 and in 1998
Hospitals 1990
Red River Delta North-east North-west North-central coast South-central coast Central highlands South-east Mekong Delta TOTAL
Source: GSO 2000.

Polyclinics 1990
132 119 27 95 71 9 66 95 614

Health centres 1990
1,866 2,000 421 1,630 729 317 919 1,328 9,210

1998
125 151 32 93 70 40 100 121 732

1998
154 229 60 160 104 35 122 163 1,027

1998
1,974 2,244 534 1,754 784 429 1,023 1,336 10,078

121 140 31 87 67 34 92 111 683

The highest growth in medical services occurred in polyclinics from 1990 to 1998, due to the change in health policy that allows diversified forms of health care including private clinics. By region, the north-west, the south-east and the Mekong Delta saw the highest growth in polyclinics in that period. The number of hospitals and health centres also increased from 1990 to 1998, but this increase occurred at a much lower rate. The growth was evenly distributed across all regions. 2. Health care agencies Several ministries are active in the provision of health care services, the major one being the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, together with the Ministry of Health, provides medical services to people who have made meritorious contributions to the country, to the poor and to other people living in difficult circumstances. MOLISA also runs programmes to prevent and combat substance abuse and prostitution. The Ministry of Agriculture and concerned local authorities execute programmes on environmental sanitation, clean water supply, safe pesticide use and urban greening and cleanliness.
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With regard to prevention, the Ministry of Education and Training, mass organizations and other educational institutions have integrated health promotion into school curricula and youth activities. Young people are encouraged to participate together with their families in sports, physical exercise and sanitary behaviour. The mass media, including newspapers, radio, and television, conduct regular communication and education programmes on promotion of health care for the general public. 3. Government expenditure

Government expenditures in health are relatively low accounting for 1.2 per cent of the GDP and 5.6 per cent of the total budget expenditure in 1998 (See Table 3-2).
Table 3-2: National healthcare budget allocation in 1998
1998
Health budget allocation (D million) Average health allocation per capita (D million) Health budget allocation as percentage of GDP (per cent) Health budget allocation as percentage of total budget allocation (per cent)
Source: MOH 1999a.

4,512,300 0.058 1.2 5.6

By sub-sector, the largest share of the health budget expenditure was allocated to treatment and prevention at 86 per cent of the total budget allocation. Other sub-sectors including capital construction at the central level; salaries of commune staff; training; scientific research; and administration, made up 7.3 per cent, 4.4 per cent, 1.8 per cent, 0.3 per cent, and 0.2 per cent of the expenditure respectively (see Table 3-3). As the State budget could only cover 63 per cent of the health care sector, the remaining funds were secured from other sources, including 13.4 per cent from fees; 13.4 per cent from health insurance; and 10.2 per cent from foreign assistance. These additional inputs have enabled the health sector to provide low-cost or free-of-charge care for poor people as well as to upgrade medical infrastructure and facilities, thus contributing to equity in healthcare.
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Table 3-3:

Healthcare budget allocation by field of activity in 1998
(per cent)

Total expenditure Capital construction at the central level Scientific research Training Treatment and prevention Administration Salaries of commune staff
Source: MOH 1999a.

100.0 7.3 0.3 1.8 86.0 0.2 4.4

C. 1.

QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS Mortality rate

The leading causes of mortality for all age groups in Viet Nam changed considerably from 1993 to 1998. In the former year, the five leading causes of death as reported in hospitals in order of decreasing prevalence were fetal death, respiratory tuberculosis, traffic accidents, pneumonia and suicide. In 1998, these leading causes of death had changed to intracerebral haemorrhage, pneumonia, respiratory tuberculosis, fetal death and acute myocardial infraction (see Table 3-4). The mortality rate for the youth population was unavailable.
Table 3-4: Leading causes of mortality in hospitals in 1993 and 1998 per 100,000 population
1993
Fetus death Respiratory T.B. Traffic accidents Pneumonia Suicide Malaria Acute bronchitis/bronchiolitis Essential hypertension Intra-cerebral haemorrhage Acute myocardial infraction
Source: GSO 2000.
45

1998
0.9 1.1 – 1.7 0.4 – – 0.6 1.8 0.7

5.8 2.1 1.8 1.7 1.5 1.4 0.9 0.8 – –

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YOUTH IN VIET NAM: A REVIEW OF THE YOUTH SITUATION NATIONAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

These figures do not provide a comprehensive view of the mortality situation in Viet Nam, however, as the majority of the population does not visit the hospital. The drop in the proportion of fetal deaths however, does point to improvements in reproductive health care as this has been substantiated by other indicators such as the reduction in maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates. 2. Morbidity rate

Morbidity patterns for all age groups differed from 1993 to 1998. In 1993, the leading causes of morbidity reported at hospitals were malaria, followed by diarrhoea, respiratory infection, acute bronchitis and acute bronchiolitis, and pneumonia. In 1998, diarrhoea was the most prevalent cause of morbidity, followed by pneumonia, acute bronchitis and acute bronchiolitis, dengue fever and induced abortion (see Table 3-5). Data on the causes of morbidity among youth were unavailable.
Table 3-5: Leading causes of morbidity in hospitals in 1993 and 1998 per 100,000 population
1993
Malaria Diarrhoea Respiratory infection Acute bronchitis/bronchiolitis Pneumonia Gland disease Essential hypertension Ulcer Dengue fever Induced abortion
Source: GSO 2000.

1998
116.2 330.8 – 276.7 314.7 – 123.3 83.9 246.5 204.7

572.9 384.4 210.4 180.1 150.6 129.5 – – – –

As in the case of mortality, as most Vietnamese do not visit the hospital when they fall sick, the data from hospitals may not be representative of the general population. While the incidence of malaria declined sharply, that of dengue fever rose considerably. The rate of easily preventable diseases such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis also rose sharply. 3. Physical size The average height and weight of Vietnamese people remained constant from 1938-1985 at 160 cm and 47-50 kilogrammes for males, and 150 cm and 45 kilogrammes for females. Vietnamese have, on average, been shorter and
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CHAPTER III: YOUTH HEALTH

lighter than their South-East Asian counterparts due to malnutrition in the embryonic and early childhood stages. The difficulties faced during the Indochinese conflicts and their aftermaths have had severe consequences for the Vietnamese. Surveys conducted in 1990 by the Institute of Nutrition and in 1994 by the former State Planning Committee (now the Ministry of Planning and Investment) show some improvement, with average heights of males and females increasing by 2 cm and 1.5 cm respectively, and average weights increasing by 2 kg and 3 kg respectively. 4. Reproductive health

(a) Contraception
The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) among youth in Viet Nam increases with age. For all age groups the CPR for youth was lower or equivalent to the national average with the exception of the 30 to 34 year age bracket. The CPR for that age group in 1998 was relatively high at 82.9 per cent as compared to the national average of 71.9 per cent. For other youth in 1998, the CPR was 19.3 per cent among 15 to 19 years old; 49.3 per cent among 20 to 24 years old; and 71.8 per cent among 25 to 29 year olds. The CPR increased substantially from 1994 to 1998 for all youth sub-groups with the most dramatic rise occurring among 25 to 29 year olds where the CPR rose from 36.9 per cent to 71.8 per cent in the period (see Table 3-6).
Table 3-6: Contraceptive prevalence rate by age group from 1994-1998 (in per cent)
Age group
15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 Whole country
Source: NCPFP 1999.
47

1994
11.1 44.7 36.9 76.5 77.8 73.0 53.0 65.0

1995
12.9 39.3 62.7 80.3 74.6 49.6 50.1 63.8

1996
18.1 46.0 68.0 79.1 82.9 76.5 54.0 68.3

1997
16.9 47.7 70.2 81.3 84.9 79.7 54.4 70.1

1998
19.3 49.3 71.8 82.9 86.1 81.0 56.3 71.9

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This increase may indicate that young couples are choosing to have smaller families than before. The relatively low CPR among 15 to 24 year age group suggests that young people in this age group are starting families and thus, not using contraception on a regular basis. In the general population, the CPR increased from 53.2 per cent in 1988 to 71.9 per cent in 1998. The use of modern contraceptive methods such as the IUD, condom, pill, inoculation and sterilization has increased from 43.8 per cent in 1994 to 57.9 per cent in 1998. Traditional methods such as the rhythm method and withdrawal declined from 21.2 per cent to 14.0 per cent in that same period (see Table 3-7).
Table 3-7: Contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) by method from 1994-1998 (in per cent)
Method Year
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Source: NCPFP 1999.
* IUD, condom, pill, inoculation, sterilization. * * Rhythm method, withdrawal and others.

CPR Modern*
65.0 63.8 68.3 70.1 71.9 43.8 49.2 52.9 55.0 57.9

Traditional**
21.2 14.7 15.4 14.1 14.0

Specifically, male and female sterilization increased from 3.1 per cent in 1994 to 5.8 per cent in 1997; use of the pill climbed from 2 per cent to 3.8 per cent; and condom use rose 4 per cent in 1994 and 4.8 per cent in 1997 (NCPFP 1999). The most popular contraceptive used in Viet Nam was the IUD.

(b) Abortion
Viet Nam has recorded one of the highest abortion rates in the world according to UNFPA in Viet Nam. In 1994, 363,791 abortions were carried out and this number rose to 462,398 in 1996 before decreasing to 281,682 in 1998 (MOH 1999a). No age disaggregated data on abortion was available.
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5. Sexually transmitted diseases The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases has increased substantially in Viet Nam since 1995, when a total of 44,138 cases were recorded. The number rose to 45,861 cases in 1996, 71,274 cases in 1997 and 118,099 cases in 1998. The most prevalent recorded sexually transmitted disease in Viet Nam in 1998 was chlamydia followed by gonorrhea and syphilis at 108,152 cases, 6,895 cases and 3,088 cases each. Over 97 per cent of all cases were reported among people aged 15 to 49 years of age for all three diseases in that year. Women in that age group accounted for 93.3 per cent of all recorded chlamydia cases, for 56.7 per cent of syphilis cases and 31.2 per cent of gonorrhea cases. Of the under 15 year olds, females accounted for 92.2 per cent of chlamydia cases, 81.8 per cent of syphilis cases and 36.0 per cent of gonorrhea cases. The recorded cases are expected to represent only 10 to 15 per cent of all cases as the majority of people with sexually transmitted diseases practice self-treatment or seek medical care from private physicians. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that a million people suffered from chlamydia, 239,000 people from gonorrhea, and 143,000 people from syphilis in 1998. By occupation, peasants, workers, attendants and car drivers accounted for the highest proportion of recorded sexually transmitted disease cases at 13.6 per cent, 5.8 per cent, 3.0 per cent, and 2.1 per cent respectively. Students, soldiers and police, and intellectuals accounted for the lowest proportions for all three diseases at 0.7 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively (MOH 1999a).

(b) HIV/AIDS
The first HIV/AIDS case was reported in 1990 in Ho Chi Minh City. Since that time, the epidemic has spread rapidly throughout the country. As of 4 April 1999, some 12,845 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam. According to WHO estimates, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS would reach between 135,000 and 160,000 by 2000, of whom 14,000 to 21,000 would develop AIDS and 10,000 to 15,000 would die of AIDS-related diseases.
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The age group 13 to 19 years accounted for 7.3 per cent of all HIV/AIDS cases in 1999, while the 20 to 29 year age group made up 40.3 per cent of the total. The 30 to 39 year old age group formed another 28.8 per cent of HIV/AIDS carriers (see Table 3-8). Thus, youth aged 15 to 35 accounted for the largest proportion of people living with HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam.
Table 3-8: HIV infection by age group
Age group (years)
Total <13 13-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 >50 Unspecified

1996 HIV carriers
4765 14 148 1058 1982 1248 105 210

April 1999 Per cent
100 0.3 3.1 22.2 41.6 26.2 2.2 4.4

HIV carriers
12845 47 935 5176 3697 2354 214 415

Per cent
100 0.4 7.3 40.3 28.8 18.3 1.7 3.3

Source: MOH Anti-AIDS Programme Report.

The proportion of 20 to 29 year olds living with HIV/AIDS increased at an alarming rate from 1996 to 1999, rising from 22.2 per cent to 40.3 per cent in those respective years. The proportion of 13 to 19 year olds also rose from 3.1 per cent in 1996 to 7.3 per cent in 1999. Prevalence rates were highest in two provinces in the north-east region that border China: Quang Ninh at 146 HIV/AIDS carriers per 100,000 inhabitants, and Lang Son at 61 per 100,000 inhabitants. Other provinces with high prevalence and cities rates included Khanh Hoa, in the south-central coast at 57 per 100,000 inhabitants and Ho Chi Minh City at 53 per 100,000 inhabitants. The majority of HIV carriers in Viet Nam were drug users at 80-90 per cent in 1997-1998, and 80-90 per cent of those users were under the age of 30 years. In the northern provinces of the country, 100 per cent of all HIV/ AIDS cases have been found among drug users, the majority of them being youth.
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Among high risk groups, the rate of HIV/AIDS infection is on the rise. Some 17.3 per cent of drug users were living with HIV/AIDS in 1994. This percentage dropped to 10.9 per cent in 1996, but then rose again to 18.5 per cent in the first half of 1998. Among commercial sex workers, the HIV/ AIDS prevalence rate increased from 0.7 per cent in 1996 to 2.6 per cent in 1998. Of those people with other sexually transmitted diseases, 0.6 per cent were seropositive for HIV in 1997, and this proportion rose to 1.03 per cent in 1998. Similarly, among tuberculosis patients the HIV infection rate increased from 0.8 per cent in 1997 to 1 per cent in 1998. Groups which were once considered low-risk groups are also showing higher rates of HIV/AIDS infection, including pre-natal women and military recruits. Among the latter, the rate of HIV infection increased from 0.04 per cent in 1996 to 0.13 per cent in 1997. The Vietnamese government has implemented several measures to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. The National Anti-AIDS Committee was established in Viet Nam in 1987, prior to the detection of the first HIV/AIDS case. On average, D 50 billion was allocated to AIDS related programmes from 1996 to 1998, despite the economic difficulties faced by the country in that period. AIDS prevention campaigns have been carried out by a variety of organizations such as anti-AIDS units of government agencies, mass organizations, people’s organizations and the mass media. Hundreds of thousands of Information, Education and Communications (IEC) materials have been produced including posters, booklets, radio and television programmes and video and audio tapes. Special attention has been given to people living in rural and remote areas who have little access to the mass media. Other target groups have included sailors, fishermen, rickshaw drivers and street dwellers. These people have been reached by mobile information teams through popular forms of education such as feature films, essays, plays, comics, poems and folk verses. Other effective techniques include the establishment of condom cafes, counseling centres, youth clubs and women’s clubs throughout the country, providing services to hotel and restaurant attendants, drivers, commercial sex workers and drug users. IEC materials contain simple and practical messages to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission. Anti-AIDS education has also emphasized compassion, humanism and non-discrimination with respect to people living with HIV/AIDS.
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Formal education has also given attention to anti-AIDS activities. HIV/ AIDS has been included in the curriculum of general education and several educational activities are held in schools, particularly on the occasion of World AIDS Day in December of each year. Several programmes have been implemented among people living with HIV/ AIDS including provision of clean syringes and condoms, job training, counselling and credit to begin small businesses. In 1996, the government circular 78/HCSN was issued, which provided a series of entitlements to people living with HIV/AIDS. Some of these included the provision of medicine for patients under treatment in State medical units of D 100,000 per person per year; supply of condoms and syringes valued at D 20,000 per person per year; and free medical check-ups and medicines for some diseases at a value of D 30,000 per person twice a year. Although helpful to some extent, these provisions of the government fall far below the demand of people living with HIV/AIDS. The Vietnamese government has made progress in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Much more effort and financial resources are required, however, in order to curb the epidemic. 6. Substance abuse

(a) Cigarette smoking
According to a survey on smoking conducted by the Social Research Institute of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, 20.1 per cent of the youth survey smoked cigarettes (see Table 3-9). Among young males 39.4 per cent smoked while only 0.2 per cent of young females smoked. By age group, the highest proportion of youth smokers were aged 25 to 29 years at 33.7 per cent followed by 30 to 34 years at 31.8 per cent, 20 to 24 year olds at 20.5 per cent and 15 to 19 year olds at 6 per cent. The statistics indicate a need to target anti-smoking campaigns specifically at young males from the age of 15 years. Although the smoking rate among the 15 to 19 year age group is still relatively low, it is important to target preventative campaigns at this age bracket.
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Table 3-9: Smoking patterns among youth by age group and by sex in per cent in 1997-1998
All youth Both sexes
Smoking status Yes No 20.1 79.9

Age group (years) Female
0.2 99.8

Male
39.4 60.4

15-19
6.0 94.0

20-24
20.5 79.5

25-29
33.7 66.3

30-34
31.8 68.2

Source: MOLISA 1999a.

(b) Drug abuse
The number of drug users in Viet Nam decreased from 148,104 persons in 1995 to 129,705 persons in 1998. All regions saw a decrease in the number of drug users in that period with the exception of the Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta where the numbers of users increased. The north-east and north-west regions with provinces bordering China and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, both had high numbers of drug users as well as those regions with the country’s two largest cities, situated in the Red River Delta and the south-east (see Table 3-10). Within these four regions, the provinces of Lao Cai and Cao Bang in the north-east, and Son La and Lai Chau in the north-west had over 10,000 drug users each in 1995. The numbers decreased significantly in the north-eastern provinces by 1998, but remained high in the north-western provinces. The number of drug users have increased at an alarming rate in Hanoi, almost tripling from 5,000 users 1995 to 13,000 users in 1998. Ho Chi Minh City recorded the highest number of drug users in the country for both years, but the number decreased from 30,000 in 1995 to 20,000 in 1998. In recent years, increasing amounts of heroin have been smuggled in from China through the north-east region. Drugs are also plentiful in the northwest region, bordering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Injecting drugs such as heroin and opium residue has replaced the traditional form of opium smoking, thereby increasing the spread of HIV/AIDS through the sharing of contaminated needles. The overwhelming majority of drug users (75 per cent) in Viet Nam are youth and adolescents. Some 49.2 per cent of all drug users are aged 15 to
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Table 3-10:

Number of drug users by region in 1995 and in 1998
1995 1998
25,633 41,188 22,000 7,434 1,304 1,877 25,526 4,743 129,705

Red River Delta North-east North-west North-central coast South-central coast Central Highlands South-east Mekong Delta TOTAL
Source: GSO 2000.

21,103 50,227 26,000 9,200 1,870 4,266 32,086 3,352 148,104

29 years. In Hanoi, 93 per cent of the users were youth and adolescents. Youth drug users include students, public employees and out-of-school youth. The major causes of drug abuse among youth in Viet Nam were identified as the following: a lack of knowledge and experience in life combined with curiosity; a lack of regular attention and care from parents and relatives who are preoccupied with earning a living; and a lack of attention provided by teachers. These factors combined with a growing influx of drugs into Viet Nam have worsened the drug problem among young people. In addition, drug traffickers also trick youth into drug addiction by enticing them to try narcotics and then providing free injections for those youth who sell drugs to other clients. The government began a drug prevention and control programme in 1993 and later established the National Anti-drug Committee (NADC) in 1998 under the Ministry of Public Security. The Ministry of Education and Training has also been actively involved in anti-drug work in schools. Mass organizations such as the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Viet Nam Women’s Union, have also joined in the campaign to prevent and end drug addiction among students and other youth. The anti-drug activities organized by the various organizations have included media campaigns; writing and drawing contests; teacher training in drug prevention and control; poppy-eradication and crop substitution campaigns; anti-drug youth clubs; anti-drug art troupes at the commune level; anti-drug peer education teams; and counselling centres.
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Several detoxification centres have also been established throughout the country in areas with high concentrations of drug users. There are over 50 detoxification centres as well as community-based detoxification programmes that exist in 70 per cent of communes with drug users. Government programmes which have targeted the provinces with traditionally high concentrations of drug users appear to have been effective as the number of users has dropped in the north-east, the north-west and the south-east. However, increased programmes should be focussed on Hanoi, which has seen a tremendous increase in the number of drug users between 1995 and 1998. D. 1. QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS Health personnel

The population per doctor decreased slightly from 2,840 in 1990 to 2,286 in 1998 while the population per nurse increased from 954 to 1,678 in those same years. The population per midwife decreased from 4,990 in 1990 to 1,678 in 1998. By region, the fewest health workers were found in the north-west and the Central Highlands, while the greatest concentrations were in the Red River Delta and the south-east (see Table 3-11).
Table 3-11: Number of doctors, nurses and midwives under the management of the Provincial Health Office by region in 1990 and in 1998
Doctors 1990
Red River Delta North-east North-west North-central coast South-central coast Central Highlands South-east Mekong Delta TOTAL
Source: GSO 2000.
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Nurses 1990
12,112 7,845 1,855 6,489 5,762 2,017 9,141 8,604 53,825

Midwives 1990
2,473 1,484 282 1,637 1,378 319 2,422 2,799 12,794

1998
6,287 4,202 711 3,013 2,443 988 5,800 4,586 28,030

1998
7,498 5,486 1,661 4,529 3,181 1,415 7,417 5,563 36,750

1998
2,458 1,494 469 1,728 1,225 436 2,730 2,240 12,780

4,897 3,182 480 2,110 1,313 292 3,303 2,047 17,624

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2.

Prevention

Physical training and sport activities for youth have been promoted by the State over the last decade in schools, universities, workplaces and the army, as well as in communities, as a means of health promotion. In 1999, physical training, sports and games had been introduced in approximately 55 per cent of all schools in the country. The remaining schools lacked training facilities and teachers in this area. In primary and junior secondary schools, there was a shortage of some 10,000 physical training teachers. Moreover, several of the existing physical training teachers have never received professional training. The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Ministry of Education and Training organized tournaments for youth periodically in a wide range of sports and games. School children, university students as well as rural youth at the commune level have participated in such events. Contests in traditional sports of each region are also held such as wrestling in the northern provinces, martial arts and boat racing in the centre and the south of the country, and pole pushing and crossbow archery in the mountainous areas of the north and central plateaus. Sports activities are also commonly organized for young workers of offices and enterprises to encourage physical activity and thereby improve health standards. Each year, trade unions organize sports tournaments involving hundreds of thousands of youth workers. More attention needs to be paid to youth living in mountainous and remote areas, particularly youth of ethnic minorities, in the area of health promotion, as a gap exists between these areas and the rest of the country with regard to access to sporting facilities. E. CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH HEALTH POLICY

The health care situation has improved considerably in Viet Nam since the implementation of the Renovation, yet basic health services such as safe water and sanitation are still inaccessible to the majority of the population. Although malnutrition rates for children under 5 years have decreased substantially during the 1990s, the rate was still high at 36.7 per cent in 1997. These basic health care needs of the Vietnamese people require urgent attention.
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No youth-targeted health policy exists in Viet Nam and youth disaggregated data in the area of health are unavailable for mortality rates, morbidity rates, infection rates for sexually transmitted diseases and abortion rates. As youth behaviour patterns and health needs differ substantially from those of adults or children, the disaggregation of data by age-group is critical for the formulation of relevant youth health policy. Attention to the issue of HIV/AIDS infection among youth must be continued as youth now form the highest proportion of carriers in the country. As the majority of transmission occurs through needle sharing among drug users, and almost all of these drug users are youth, these two issues must continue to be considered together. The situation of drug use in the north-east, the north-west, and the south-west require continued attention as the number of drug users in these regions, although decreasing, is still high. Hanoi also requires increased attention from the anti-drug campaigns as the number of drug users there has increased rapidly. Campaigns should target both in-school and out-of-school youth. With regard remote areas improved in health care. to health services, incentives for health workers to live in of the north-west and the Central Highlands need to be order to provide the populations in those areas with better Medical facilities in those areas also require strengthening.

Viet Nam has overcome major challenges over the last decade in the area of health care. Such positive efforts need to be enhanced to ensure that the entire population has access to health services, particularly those people living in rural and remote areas. More attention is also needed in the area of youth heath, through the collection of data on youth health and the formulation of policy in this area.

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Youth Employment

IV

A. YOUTH EMPLOYMENT POLICY 1. Background The employment situation in Viet Nam has improved substantially since 1986, with the institution of economic reforms initiated by the Renovation. The GDP grew at an unprecedented average rate of 8.4 per cent per annum from 1992 to 1998, with a 4.5 per cent growth in the agricultural sector, a 13 per cent growth in the industrial sector, and an 8.3 per cent growth in the services sector. Correspondingly, overall employment also grew at an average rate of 1.8 per cent per year from 1993 to 1998. By sector, annual employment growth rates were 0.4 per cent in agriculture, 4.0 per cent in industry, and 6 per cent in services (GDNWG 1999). Rapid economic growth has led to a change in the structure of the economy in Viet Nam. Agriculture’s share of the GDP decreased from 32 per cent to 25 per cent between 1992 and 1998, while industry’s share of the GDP increased from 27 per cent to 33 per cent, and services’ share rose from 41 per cent to 42 per cent. Employment patterns also changed accordingly. The proportion of the working population engaged in agriculture fell from 71 per cent to 66 per cent, while that in industry rose from 12 per cent to 13 per cent from 1993 to 1998. The proportion of workers employed in services increased from 17 per cent to 21 per cent in that same period (GDNWG 1999). Despite economic improvements, Viet Nam continues to face several challenges
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in the area of employment, particularly with regard to youth employment. The number of new entrants into the labour force each year is increasing, and an estimated 11 million new jobs need to be generated in the period 1999-2010 in order to meet demand. As the majority of youth workers are unskilled, skills training programmes need to be considerably expanded and enhanced to meet market demands for labour and to increase income levels among youth, as the agricultural sector continues to generate relatively low incomes. 2. Employment policy relevant to youth Youth workers’ issues are addressed within general employment policies in Viet Nam, as youth-specific employment policies do not exist. The following section will look at the Labour Code and Resolutions of the Communist Party that have relevance to youth.

(a) Labour Code
The Labour Code of Viet Nam of 1994 protects the right of all workers to freedom from ill-treatment and promotes favourable employment conditions and training of workers. The Code does not have a specific chapter pertaining to youth, but some articles are particularly relevant to young workers. For example, Article 6 of the Code grants youth the right to work as it defines a worker as a person who is at least 15 years of age, who has working capacity and who has entered into a labour contract. The rights of women workers in their child-bearing years, the majority of whom are youth, are protected by several articles including Article 111 and Article 115. Article 111 states that an employer is unable to dismiss a female worker due to marriage, pregnancy and maternity leave. It also stipulates that women have the right to receive equal pay to that of men for work of equal value, and where a man and a woman are equally qualified, a woman must be hired. Article 115 exempts women with children of less than one year of age from working extra hours and from performing night work, or work that requires long distance travel. After a woman’s seventh month of pregnancy, she should be transferred to lighter work and she should work one hour less each day as stipulated in the code. Article 14 provides for preferential policies on employment creation for ethnic minorities, including youth, that face high unemployment and underemployment.
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Article 21 provides for tax reduction and tax exemption for institutions that provide vocational training to disadvantaged groups, such as ethnic minorities, disabled persons, sick war veterans and the unemployed.

(b) Communist Party Resolutions
The Vietnamese government’s policies on labour and employment for the decade 1990 to 2000 are contained in the Resolution of the Congress of the CPVN (VII Tenure). The long-term goals of the policy include the following: • • • • • • To make the best use of the workforce; To attain high efficiency in the workforce; To enable job seekers to find employment; To assist the unemployed to get employment quickly; To provide the underemployed with full employment and to assist them in attaining high work efficiency; and To balance economic growth and employment creation.

The specific objective established at the Congress of the CPVN (VII Tenure) for the five-year period of 1991 to 1995 was to create employment for 4.7 million people. Over the subsequent five-year period from 1993 to 2000, the Resolution of the Congress of the CPVN (VIII Tenure) set the following specific objectives: • To provide employment for 6.5 to 7.0 million people for the five-year period so that an average of 1.3 to 1.4 million people would be employed each year; To reduce the unemployment rate in urban areas to less than 5 per cent; To increase the working time in rural areas to 75 per cent; and To increase the portion of trained labour to 22 per cent.

• • •

In order to attain the long-term goals and specific objectives, the Party and the Government of Viet Nam have issued numerous resolutions for the implementation of programmes in the period 1990 to 2000. Resolution 120-HDBT, dated 11 April 1992, by the then Council of Ministers, provided guidelines, orientation and measures for employment creation. The
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Decision highlighted the responsibility of the Government as well as all sectors of society to create employment. The Government would create necessary conditions by means of mechanisms, policies, laws and partial financial assistance to encourage organizations, economic units and working people of all economic sectors to create new jobs. The working people are entitled to conduct business, to set up professional associations, joint-ventures and cooperatives, and to employ labour in conformity with laws and under the guidance of the State. The Decision stipulates that the State protects and encourages owners of businesses, such as private owners and families, to make profits in a lawful manner, to create more jobs, and to attract labour. A national fund for employment generation was established as a result of the Decision. Decision 176-HDBT, dated 9 October 1989, and Decision 315-HDBT, dated 1 September 1990, were issued on state-owned enterprises (SOEs). According to the Decision, SOEs would restructure their production and business in conformity with their functions. The capacity of SOEs would be fully utilized and the redundant labour of SOEs would be transferred to other economic sectors. Decision 109-HDBT, dated 14 April 1991, and Decision 111/HDBT, addressed restructuring and streamlining of the public administration and the public service sectors. The Decision clearly defined the Government’s policies for restructuring the administrative apparatus. This policy includes posting personnel according to skills and capacity and programmes to transfer redundant labour from the administration apparatus to other sectors. The programmes provide for a six-month training allowance for those who are below 45 years of age and assistance in acquiring land and house registration for those who want to leave administrative posts and return to their homes in the country side. Decision 327-HDBT was issued on reforestation of uncultivated land and barren hills. Under this Decision, the State strongly encouraged people to take over land from the State for reforestation and forest protection. The State also encouraged enterprises, share-holding companies and private companies to invest in cultivation and animal raising on uncultivated land, barren hills and coastal alluvial grounds. According to this Decision, each household is entitled to use a maximum of 5,000 square meters of land for gardening and grazing purposes, in addition to the land area each household has contracted from the State. Prime Ministerial Decision 133/1998/QD-TTg, dated 23 July 1998, approved the national targeted programme for hunger elimination and poverty alleviation. This Decision aimed to reduce the proportion of poor households to below 10 per cent by 2000 from 17.7 per cent in 1997. To this end, a series of measures have been taken to improve poor people’s access to basic services such as electricity, clean
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water, health care, credit and education. Such measures included land access, work tools, and other forms of assistance to develop handicrafts or to restore traditional crafts in order to create jobs. Decision 50/1999/QD-TTg approved vocational training plans for 1999-2000. The Decision stated that in 1999, 670,000 trainees would receive vocational training, of whom 120,000 would undergo long-term training and 550,000 would undergo short-term training. The corresponding figures for 2000 would be 780,000 trainees, including 150,000 long-term trainees and 630,000 short-term trainees. Efforts would be made so that by the end of 2000 trained labour would amount to 13.4 per cent, and retrained labour would make up 22 per cent of the total workforce. Prime Ministerial Decision 126/1998/QD-TTg, dated 11 July 1998, approved the nationally targeted programme for employment generation. The fundamental and long-term objective of the programme was to generate new jobs and to ensure employment for people who can work and who require employment. Measures would be taken to assist the unemployed and partially unemployed to secure employment promptly, with special assistance given to disadvantaged people in the labour market. The specific objective of the programme was to reduce the unemployment rate in cities to 5 per cent and to increase the working time in rural areas to 75 per cent by 2000. One of the policies with direct impact on the workforce in the public service sector and in the production and business sectors was the adoption of a 40 hour working week in October 1999. This replaced the former 48-hour working week. 3. Government initiatives on youth employment

(a) Responsible government agencies
The labour and employment system is decentralized in Viet Nam, and therefore administered at the central, provincial, municipal, district and village levels. The Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs serves as the regulatory authority for labour and employment.

(b) Government employment initiatives
Initiatives currently undertaken by the Government to create employment for youth include direct investment to generate new jobs through various socioeconomic development programmes, provision of assistance in the form of
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concessional credit, and provision of training courses. The capital required to create one job ranges from D 5 million in the agricultural sector to D 400 million in the case of foreign investment projects. A total of D 432,300 billion is needed to create 11 million jobs. Job creation thus remains a great challenge for the Vietnamese government. B. QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS 1. Labour force

(a) Definitions
The General Statistical Office defines employment concepts as follows: (i) Employment Employment refers to any activity that is performed to generate income and that is not prohibited by law. Employment includes work for remuneration in cash or in kind; as well as work which generates profits for the worker for his or her family, and which is not remunerated, either in cash or in kind. (ii) Working population The working population, or the workforce, consists of all persons aged 15 years and above who are currently employed, or unemployed but seeking employment. The working age is 15 to 60 years for men and 15 to 55 years for women. (iii) Employed persons Employed persons are those aged 15 years and above who form part of the working population and who, in the week prior to the survey, were engaged in one of the following: • • • worked for wages or salaries, or for profit in cash or in kind; produced or performed business activities in his/her own household and was not remunerated in the form of wages, salaries or profits; had been previously employed, but was temporarily unemployed in the week prior to the survey and had plans to return to work.

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(v) Unemployed persons Unemployed persons are those aged 15 years and above who formed part of the working population but who were seeking employment in the week prior to the survey. The unemployed included those who had been looking for work for the last four weeks or those who had not been seeking work over that period, because they had been unsuccessful in finding employment or because they did not know where to search. Those who had worked less than 8 hours in the week before the survey and who were eager to work more but unable to secure additional jobs, were also considered unemployed. (vi) Underemployed persons An underemployed person is one who had worked less than 40 hours per week, but more than eight hours. Technically, this overlaps with the definition of an employed person, which is important to note when interpreting employment data. (vii) Non-working population The non-working population refers to persons aged 15 years and above who do not fall under the categories of employed, unemployed or underemployed persons. The non-working population includes persons who perform housework in their own homes, persons who are studying, and persons who are unable to work as a result of old age, sickness or disability. (viii) Young labour force The young labour force is defined in the following two ways in Viet Nam: The General Statistics Office defines it as all people aged 13 to 24 years who are participating in the labour force with 13 to 14 year olds acting as apprentices. The Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs defines it as all working people aged 15 to 34 years. The latter definition has been adopted in this monograph, in line with the definition of youth as persons aged 15 to 34 years.

(b) Labour force participation
The number of youth engaged in economic activities totalled 20.2 million in 1999, accounting for 55.5 per cent of the total workforce. Youth aged
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between 15 and 24 years accounted for 25.2 per cent of the workforce while those aged between 25 and 34 years made up 30.3 per cent of the workforce. Youth’s share of the total labour force has declined from 63 per cent in 1990 to 55.5 per cent in 1999 (see Table 4-1). The number of youth engaged in economic activities as a proportion of total youth also declined from 84.9 per cent in 1990 to 73.6 per cent in 1999. The decrease in the proportion of youth workers has occurred as a result of an increase in school enrolment rates at all levels. Of the youth not engaged in economic activities in 1999, 15.6 per cent were enrolled in school or university, 4.4 per cent were engaged in housework, 4.3 per cent were unemployed, 0.6 per cent had lost working capacity, and 1.5 per cent were unidentified. It is expected that the proportion of youth in the population will decrease in the future, with increased life expectancy, lower birth rates and decreased mortality rates. Figure 1 shows a trend toward an aging population in Viet Nam. Despite the decline in the proportion of youth in the labour force, the number of youth entering the labour force each year is still increasing. The number of youth entering the labour force rose from 1.1 million in 1995 to 1.3 million in 1999 (GSO 1999b). These large numbers of new entrants into the labour force pose a great challenge to the employment situation.

Table 4-1: Youth workers as a proportion of the total labour force and as a proportion of all youth in 1990 and 1999
Age groups
Youth Youth Youth Youth share of the total labour force aged 15 to 24 years as a percentage of the total labour force aged 25 to 34 years as a percentage of the total labour force workers as a percentage of all youth

1990
63.0 31.1 31.2 84.9

1999
55.5 25.2 30.3 73.6

Source: GSO 1999b.

The majority of youth work in the rural areas at 76.5 per cent in 1999. Migration of youth from rural to urban areas has increased due to growing urbanization in the country with young people seeking employment in cities and towns and industrial parks, in which labour is in high demand. Also, due to a
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Figure 1:

Age-sex distribution of the population in Viet Nam in 1975 and in 1995
Age-sex distribution in 1975
Male
70 over 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 0-4 –15% –10% –5% 0% 5% 10% 15%

Female

Age

Percentage

Age-sex distribution in 1995
Male
70 over 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 0-4 –15% –10% –5% 0% 5% 10% 15%

Female

Age

Percentage

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limited amount of cultivable land in Viet Nam, persons engaged in agriculture are increasingly leaving the sector in search of other sources of income. (i) Distribution by sector The agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors employed the highest proportion of youth in 1998 at 63.6 per cent, followed by the industry and construction sectors at 18.4 per cent and the services sector at 18.1 per cent (see Table 4-2). Although agriculture absorbs most of the young workers, the number of youth engaged in agriculture, forestry and fisheries is declining at a rate of 3.2 to 3.6 per cent yearly. Sex disaggregated data were unavailable. The growth rate of youth workers in industry and construction and in services has increased by 0.6 to 0.7 per cent and 2.5 per cent per year respectively. (ii) Distribution by professional and skill level There was a total of 26 million youth with no professional skills in Viet Nam in 1999, accounting for 94.1 per cent of all youth in that year. Of the remaining 1.6 million youth, 31 per cent were technical workers, 36 per cent had received secondary vocational training, and 32 per cent had tertiary or higher education (MOLISA 1999a). The supply of skilled youth did not meet the demand for labour in terms of quantity or capability due to a lack of technically-trained persons. The education system has focussed too much on university education to the detri-

Table 4-2: Youth employment rates by age group and by sector in 1998 (in per cent)
Sector Age group (years) Agriculture, forestry, fisheries
20.7 15.3 13.3 14.3 63.6

Industry, construction
5.1 8.8 3.4 3.4 18.4

Sub-total Services
2.5 4.5 4.4 6.7 18.1 28.3 25.7 21.1 24.4 100.0

15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 Total
Source: LSSI 1997.
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ment of technical education. As a result, a large number of university graduates have been unable to secure employment upon completion of their studies, while a large demand exists for youth workers with a technical background. The Ministry of Education and Training reported that of 20,000 university graduates throughout the country in 1999, only half were employed (MOET 1999a). In contrast, technical workers and skilled labour for businesses and enterprises were in severely short supply, particularly in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Only 3.9 per cent to 56.7 per cent of the demand for workers in enterprises and businesses in Viet Nam was met. (iii) Wages and earnings Eighty per cent of Viet Nam’s population live in rural areas and 76 per cent of the labour force is engaged in farming. Thus, the majority of household incomes is dependent on the size and quality of a family’s land; the size of production and capital; the trade composition; and the utilization and organization of labour. Incomes vary significantly by household, by region and by major economic activity. The highest monthly per capita incomes were recorded in the south-east followed by the Central Highlands, the Mekong Delta, the Red River Delta, the south-central coast, the north-central coast and the north-east and north-west (see Table 4-3). Income gaps among regions have been caused primarily by the nature of economic activity in which households are engaged, with farming generating the lowest incomes. Poor land quality, limited land, and natural disasters such as floods, have also contributed to low productivity in some regions. Large differences in income also existed within regions. Of the total population, the poorest 20 per cent (Quintile 1) earned a monthly average income of D 7.9 million in 1996, while the wealthiest quintile (Quintile 5) earned more than seven times that amount at D 57.4 million (see Table 4-4). Among rural youth, household incomes varied to a large extent according to the nature of income-generating activities. The incomes of households engaged purely in agricultural activities were often lower than those incomes of households engaged in a combination of farming and non-farming activities, such as handicrafts and commercial activities. According to surveys carried out by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the average
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Table 4-3: Monthly per capita income at current prices (in million Dong)
Salary & Agriculture, Industry & forestry & construction Services Other wages fisheries
2.6 5.6 3.1 5.0 3.9 12.8 4.5 9.7 7.2 7.7 7.0 14.7 7.9 11.4 8.9 1.6 1.6 1.1 1.3 3.5 1.2 1.9 3.9 2.6 4.0 4.6 8.8 4.7 2.3 4.5 2.5 2.3 2.1 4.7 2.5

Total
North-east and north-west Red River Delta North-central coast South-central coast Central Highlands South-east Mekong Delta
Source: GSO 2000.

17.4 22.3 17.4 19.5 26.6 37.8 24.2

monthly per capita income was as much as three times higher among families engaged in some form of non-farm activity, such as industry and construction or services (see Table 4-5). Underemployment in the agricultural sector has led to a surplus of labour in
Table 4-4: Monthly per capita income by quintile (in million Dong)
Average
1994 1995 1996 16.8 20.6 22.7

Quintile 1 Quintile 2 Quintile 3 Quintile 4 Quintile 5
6.3 7.4 7.9 9.9 12.5 13.5 13.3 16.7 18.4 18.6 22.8 25.0 40.9 52.0 57.4

Source: LSSI 1997.

rural areas. Youth therefore often work as hired labour in addition to their farming activities in order to earn additional income. Income resulting from work as hired labour accounted for approximately one fourth of the total income of youth living in rural areas. 3. Underemployed youth Youth account for the majority of underemployed people in Viet Nam, making
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Table 4-5: Ratio of monthly income of households of various economic areas
Purely agricultural activities
Mekong Delta South-east South-central coast Central Highlands
Source: LSSI 1997.

Industry and construction
2.1 1.4 1.9 3.4

Services
1.9 1.7 2.4 2.8

1 1 1 1

up 60 per cent of the total. Among youth, underemployment is most prevalent in rural areas. In 1996, the underemployment rate of youth in rural areas was 26.6 per cent. With some slight fluctuations, the rate rose to 28 per cent in 1999. Underemployment among the 25 to 35 year age group was even higher at 37 per cent in 1996 and 30.7 per cent in 1999 (GSO 1999c).
Table 4-6: Source of income by income-generating activities (in per cent)
Self-employment
Mekong Delta South central coast North west Central Highlands
Source: LSSI 1997.

Hired employment
25.1 27.2 20.2 24.6

74.9 72.8 79.8 75.4

Some of the factors contributing to underemployment among youth in rural areas are limited land for cultivation; lack of skills and resources to process agricultural products; insufficient skills to meet market demand for labour; and lack of capital for the development of small enterprises. In order to address the issue of underemployment among youth, the Communist Party and the Government of Viet Nam have improved their policies to provide youth with trade training and to generate full employment for youth.

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4. Unemployed youth Employment grew at an average annual rate of 3 per cent between 1996 and 1999. Nevertheless, this growth has still been unable to meet the demand for employment. The unemployment rate in Viet Nam rose from 5.7 per cent in 1996 to 7.2 per cent in 1999 in urban areas. This rate differed significantly by skill level. Among persons with no qualification or technical skills, the rate was higher than the national average at 8.3 per cent in 1999, while the rate among persons with technical skills was only 4.6 per cent (MOLISA 1999a). This demonstrates the urgent need for further skills training in Viet Nam. Some 608,433 youth were unemployed in 1998. Of the total, 52.7 per cent were male and 47.3 per cent were female. Youth aged 15 to 24 years formed the majority of unemployed youth at 59.5 per cent while those aged 25 to 34 years made up 40.5 per cent. The sex ratio was the same for all age sub-groups as for the total youth population (see Table 4-7). The high numbers of unemployed youth point to a mismatch between education and training, and the demand for labour. Graduates of training courses in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and humanities have had particular difficulty in securing employment. The majority of unemployed youth (57.4 per cent) live in urban areas. Fewer rural youth are registered as unemployed, as most are engaged in farming activities, but they outnumber urban youth among the underemployed. C. QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS

Table 4-7: Number of unemployed youth in 1998 by age sub-group, by sex and by area
15 to 34 years Total
Urban Rural

15 to 24 years Total Female Male

25 to 34 years Total Female Male

Female

Male

608,433 287,789 320,644 361,784 171,124 190,660 246,649 116,665 129,984 349,136 – – 184,228 – – 164,908 – – 259,297 – – 177,556 – – 81,741 – –

Source: GSO 1999c.
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1. Working conditions The Renovation and the opening up of the economy set the foundations for the rapid growth of the economy in Viet Nam. The resulting socio-economic development made improvements in working conditions possible for workers in the rural areas as well as in the industrial zones. Nonetheless, problems due to insufficient planning and zoning, including those related to the working environment, still persist. In agriculture, farming machines are gradually replacing the hard work traditionally performed by farmers such as ploughing and shouldering heavy loads. Irrigation networks have also improved the working conditions of rural workers and resulted in enhanced livelihoods. The application of technical advances has alleviated the hardship once endured by farmers in planting and caring for crops. As weeding and direct seeding are no longer performed by hand in some areas, the replanting stage in rice cultivation is bypassed, thus improving the working conditions of farmers in general and of youth in particular. The introduction of new technology, however, has also resulted in problems due to the lack of education and technical knowledge among youth. For example, inappropriate uses of pesticides and growth stimulants for farm animals have had adverse effects on workers as well as on the environment. Remarkable improvements have been made in the working conditions in production units in some areas in Viet Nam, particularly in joint ventures and in enterprises with foreign investment. Nonetheless, surveys carried out by the Research Institute on Labour Sciences and Social Affairs in 1995 show that overall working conditions in the country are deteriorating, particularly in small enterprises. One third of the existing enterprises in Viet Nam have inappropriate technology. This problem is most serious among non-state enterprises. It is a common practice that residential houses serve as workshops, or that workers labour in makeshift workshops. These workplaces were characterized in the following way: 23.2 per cent were damp; 13.9 per cent were poorly ventilated; 8.5 per cent were congested; 8.5 per cent had slippery or bumpy floors; and 1.5 per cent had leaks. In small enterprises, work is mainly performed by hand and manual workers account for 49.8 per cent of the total workforce. Another 45.7 per cent of the labourers work with mechanized and semi-mechanized machines and 4.5 per cent with automated machines. Only 7.4 per cent of the workforce operate
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machines that require strict safety and labour sanitation regulations and registration. Controls by authorized agencies have revealed that only 73.7 per cent of those machines have valid registration. This utilization of machines with expired registration constitutes an alarming and serious threat to labour safety and sanitation, to the environment, and to business activities of enterprises. An alarming 61.3 per cent of the labour force work under unsafe and unsanitary conditions in relation to fuels and materials. Other problems include dangerous toxic emissions in workplaces, dust, and noise levels that exceed permitted limits. Surveys concluded that toxic emissions in the air surpassed the allowed limit by 1 to 5 times in 30.7 per cent of the total professions; by 6 to 10 times in 32.8 per cent; by 11 to 30 times in 23.11%; and by more than 30 times in 4.4 per cent of the total. Workplaces that manufacture or process organic chemicals, rubber, plastic, ceramics and china ware, glass and metal have particularly high levels of toxic emissions which well exceeded permitted limits. Enterprises have been gradually upgrading their technologies in order to produce high quality products, given the requirements of the industrialization and modernization; however, due to constraints in capital supply and insufficient planning and zoning, working conditions of workers, including youth, are still far from satisfactory. D. CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH EMPLOYMENT POLICY Viet Nam’s transition from a centrally-planned to a market economy has brought increased employment opportunities for the country’s working population, the majority of whom are youth. The diversification of the economy has led to increased incomes and improved living conditions. Improvements in health care and education have significantly improved the quality of life for many Vietnamese youth. Employment, however, remains a major concern for youth in Viet Nam. Although the youth proportion of the total labour force is declining, the number of youth entering the labour force still exceeds one million each year. The labour market increasingly requires skilled workers, yet 94 per cent of youth workers were unskilled in 1999. Among skilled youth workers, one-third are graduates with academic skills for which there is limited demand. The lack of coordination between the education and training sector and the employment sector has exacerbated the employment problem. Vocational training needs to be further expanded to meet the market’s demand for skilled workers and to
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address unemployment and underemployment among youth. Significant differentials exist between the highest and the lowest income quintile in Viet Nam, where the former is seven times that of the latter. As the majority of youth are involved in agriculture that generates low income, further skills and entrepreneurship training is required so that youth can diversify their production to include non-farm activities. Particular emphasis should be placed on the north-east and the north-west where the average income levels are the lowest. Additional activities would also help to relieve the underemployment problem faced in rural areas. The 15 to 24 year age group forms the majority of unemployed youth in Viet Nam, pointing to a need to develop age-specific employment policies that target the most vulnerable age sub-groups. Age-specific employment policies and programmes still do not exist in Viet Nam. Major challenges exist in the area of working conditions, particularly among small enterprises in Viet Nam. Although the data are not age-specific, youth as the majority of the workforce suffer from unsafe working conditions. In the rural areas, the improper use of pesticides and growth hormones pose a threat to workers. In urban areas, dampness, poorly ventilated and cramped working conditions, as well as toxic emissions, threaten health. The significant attempts made by the Communist Party and the Government of Viet Nam to address the problems related to youth employment need to be continued and strengthened if the country’s youth are to reach their potential and to contribute more fully to the development potential of the country as a whole.

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V

A.

INTRODUCTION

Vietnamese youth have played an integral role in the their country’s development in times of both conflict and peace. During the two liberation struggles of 1946-1954 and 1965-1975, youth formed the core of the armed forces. Later, in times of peace and rapid economic growth, youth accounted for the majority of the labour force. Youth participation has always been highly valued in Viet Nam. The Indochinese Communist Youth Union, the forerunner of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, was established in 1931, one year after the formation of the Communist Party in Viet Nam. Since that time, the interests of youth, from the national to the local levels, have been represented by the youth mass organization, which has ministerial status in the country. Representatives of youth organizations are invited to attend government sessions when relevant problems are discussed. B. YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS

Youth organizations in Viet Nam have traditionally taken the form of mass or large organizations, which receive the majority of their funding from the government. Each organization holds a Congress every five years to elect its leadership and to adopt a plan of action. The four major youth groups in Viet Nam are the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union; the Viet Nam Youth Federation; the Viet Nam Association of Students; and the National Council of Young Entrepreneurs in Viet Nam.
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1.

Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union

The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, established in 1931, is the primary socio-political youth organization of Viet Nam. It plays an important role in youth work, serving several functions. The HCYU is a reserve force for the Communist Party of Viet Nam, a revolutionary vanguard force, a socialist school for Vietnamese youth, a representative and a defender of the legitimate and lawful rights of the youth, and a member of the Communist Party’s political structure. It is also the primary organization responsible for the drafting of the national youth policy and it implements numerous programmes for youth development (see Chapter 1, Section B. 2). The Union’s activities are organized in every corner of the country, including cities, rural towns, remote mountainous areas, border zones and islands. The HCYU has even extended its assistance to Vietnamese youth studying or working abroad under labour cooperation programmes with foreign countries. The HCYU has been renamed several times throughout its history, according to the national needs of the period in question. It was known as the Indochinese Communist Youth Union from 1931-1936; the Democratic Youth Union from 1936-1939; the Anti-Imperialist Youth Union from 19391941; the Youth Union for National Salvation from 1941-1956; the Vietnam Labour Youth Union from 1956-1970; the Ho Chi Minh Labor Youth Union from 1970-1976; and finally the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union since 1976. The Youth Union has a membership of 3.5 million youth from throughout the country. Members include students, working youth, and unemployed youth, all of whom accept the Constitution of the Union and have proven a good record of performance. There are equal numbers of female and male members in the 15 to 24 year age group, but the proportion of female members decreases after the age of 25 years due to women’s reproductive roles. The HCYU is a multi-tiered organization that extends from the national to the local levels. At the national level a Central Executive Committee is elected every five years at a national congress, which in turn elects a Standing Committee and a Secretariat. Executive Committees also exist at the provincial, city, district, commune, precinct, hamlet and village levels. Policy level decisions of the HCYU are made after discussions at all levels of the organization. In implementation, the local levels follow the direction established by the national level.
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With such a large membership, the HCYU employs approximately 14,830 people at the provincial, district and commune levels to coordinate its activities. As the State’s annual allocation to the Communist Youth Union head office, averaging D 2.6 billion, is smaller than the HCYU’s budget, it also raises additional funds for its activities. The average age of the HCYU leadership is approximately 40 years at the national level, 35 years at the district level, and 30 years at the local level. In the country’s context, as the organization holds a ministerial rank, its leadership must have sufficient experience and is therefore often slightly older than the defined age of youth. 2. Vietnam Youth Federation

The Vietnam Youth Federation (VYF), established in 1956, is an umbrella organization of youth, youth groups and individuals that work for youth development. The primary aim of the VYF is to rally and unite all forces of Vietnamese youth to strive to develop the country into a prosperous, strong and equitable society, as well as to bring about the happiness and progress of youth. The objectives of the VYF include the following: • To provide guidance and create conditions for its members to develop and perfect their personality and become good citizens; and to organize and mobilize its members and other youth to participate in activities beneficial to the country and their families, striving to promote good; To represent and protect its members’ legitimate interests; to coordinate with state agencies and social organizations to take care of the legal rights and interests of youth; and to organize activities to contribute to meeting the legitimate needs of its members and other youth; and To promote solidarity and cooperation with youth organizations of other countries in order to strengthen friendship relations, mutual understanding and cooperation for peace, national independence, democracy, social progress and a happy future for youth.

The VYF has a membership of 2.5 million individuals as well as numerous collective members. These include the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the Viet Nam Association of Students, the Viet Nam Association of Young Entrepreneurs, the Viet Nam Association of Young Architects, the
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Viet Nam Association of Young Physicians, the Youth Volunteers against Illiteracy, and other voluntary organizations of Vietnamese youth. The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union is the core member of the VYF. The structure of the VYF consists of the VYF Central Committee; provincial and municipal VYF committees; district VYF committees; communal and precinct VYF committees; and local VYF chapters. A National Congress is held every five years to elect the VYF Central Committee and the plenum of the VYF Central Committee elects the President and Vice-presidents and the Presidium Members of the VYF. 3. Vietnam Association of Students

The Vietnam Association of Students (VAS), founded in 1955, is a sociopolitical organization of young students, which promotes studying and research among youth. The VAS has a membership of approximately 30,000 youth. Structurally it has a Central Committee, provincial or city committees, university and college committees, and university and college student cells. The VAS action programmes for students include the following: • • • • • • Programme of Education and Drills; Programme of Study and Research in Science and Technology; Programme of Physical Education and Spiritual and Cultural Life; Programme of Building an Educational Environment and Struggling against Social Evils; Programme of Community Coordination; and Programme of Building the Vietnam Association of Students.

The VAS also encourages its members to participate in the activities of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Viet Nam Association of Students such as the “Do you know?” campaign to learn about the history, traditions, and resolutions of the Communist Party and the HCYU. Students have also actively participated in the “Light of Culture” campaign, launched during every summer vacation. During this campaign, students travel to remote areas to help to eradicate illiteracy among ethnic minority groups.
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4.

National Council of Young Entrepreneurs in Vietnam Entrepreneurs was established in 1998 to Nam for their own development and for The Council has a membership of 1,000 provinces throughout the country. It is a Youth Federation.

The National Council of Young unite young entrepreneurs in Viet the development of the country. young entrepreneurs located in 20 collective member of the Vietnam C. VOICE OF YOUTH

The HCYU and the VYF gather the opinions and needs of youth through various means, such as the organization of open consultations with youth and the conduct of surveys among youth. These interactions have shown Vietnamese youth to be highly conscious of the political and socio-economic situation of their country as well as extremely supportive of the Communist Party and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union. The most important issues for youth in Viet Nam include employment, education, cross-cultural exchanges and culture and arts. D. POLITICAL PARTICIPATION stable

Vietnamese youth have played an active role in politics at the local level in the People’s Councils (PC) as well as at the national level in the National Assembly. 1. Voting

The Law on People’s Councils Elections of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam grants all citizens of Viet Nam, aged 18 years and older, the right to vote. Exceptions to the law include those who are mentally incompetent and those who the people’s court has stripped of that right (LPCE 1994). Youth specific data on voting do not exist in Viet Nam. At both the local and the national levels, voter turn-out rates have been extremely high. The 1997 national elections for the National Assembly had a voter turn-out rate exceeding 98 per cent. At the local level, the voter turn-out rate was also high at 97.6 per cent and above at the provincial and district levels and 97.2 per cent at the commune level in 1999. As those people who have not voted generally include those who are too old and too sick, or those people living in remote areas, it can be concluded that most youth exercise their right to vote.
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2.

Political representation

Citizens of Viet Nam have the right to stand for election at the age of 21 years according to the Law on People’s Councils elections, with the exception of those who are mentally incompetent and people who have lost their voting rights (LPCE 1994). The law does not stipulate a minimum educational requirement for candidates; however, those with high educational levels are more likely to be elected than are those with low educational levels. The Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPVN) has attached great importance to youth representation at all levels of politics. The Politburo of the CPVN in Resolution No. 26-NQ/TW dated 1 July 1985 states as follows: The National Assembly and People’s Councils membership at all levels should contain an adequate percentage of youth representatives. Secretaries of the Central Committee of the Youth Union are entitled to participate in all the sessions of the Council of Ministers (now the Government) and People’s Committees at all levels. The Youth Union representatives must be on all boards/councils concerning the obligations and rights of the youth, such as the Emulation Council, the Conscription Board and the Enrollment Board. Youth representation in the National Assembly has fluctuated over the period from the VI Session of 1976-1981 to the current period of 1997-2002 from 3.3 per cent to 18.1 per cent (See Table 5-1). In addition, members who are older than 35 years, but who are leaders within the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, also represent the interests of youth in the National Assembly.
Table 5-1: Youth representation in the National Assembly
1976-1981
Number of youth members Youth percentage
Source: DNADA 1999.
82

1981-1987
90 18.1

1987-1992
55 11.1

1992-1997
13 3.3

1997-2002
37 8.2

58 11.8

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Youth participation at the local level was much higher than in the National Assembly, ranging from 15.9 to 30 per cent at the province or city level; 22 per cent to 33.7 per cent at the district level; and 34.4 per cent to 38.4 per cent at the commune level (see Table 5-2).
Table 5-2: Youth representation in the People’s Councils at all levels for 1984-1987, 1987-1990 and 1994-1999
Province/city level 19841987
Number of youth members Youth percentage

District level 19841987 19871990 19941999

Commune level 19841987 19871990 19941999

19871990

19941999

1,234 27.2

1,270 30.0

493 15.9

9,677 33.7

5,747 22.0

4,224 24.6

114,561 10,399 37.9 34.4

86,611 38.4

Source: DNADA 1999.

3. Government programmes aimed at increasing political awareness The CPVN and the State have placed strong emphasis on heightening the political consciousness and awareness of youth. Information on domestic and international political issues is provided by the CPVN and the State to youth through a variety of channels, particularly via the mass media. Following all CPVN Congresses at the national and local levels, and after all major conferences organized by the CPVN, the National Assembly or the Government, young people are encouraged to study the resulting documents. This experience assists them in understanding all important policies and guidelines of the CPVN and the State. Youth organizations, such as the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the Vietnam Youth Federation, the Vietnam Association of Students, the Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneers Organization, also hold contests and disseminate information about CPVN and State policies and guidelines.
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E. THE MEDIA Under the Vietnamese Constitution and the Law of the Press, all citizens in the country have freedom of speech. Youth’s voice is channelled through national youth organizations which all have their own media systems. The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) has a youth television centre, youth and children’s radio broadcasting departments, 2 publishing houses, and 14 newspapers and magazines. Students and young people participate actively in writing news stories and literature for these publications, reflecting their diverse views and opinions. In addition, space is also reserved for youth issues and youth-related policies of the CPVN and the State in government-run media programmes at the national and provincial levels. Youth in several provinces and centrally-administered cities such as Lang Son, Phu Tho, Ha Tinh, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hai Phong also have their own bulletins and special magazines. Youth are also a major target group for all television and radio programmes throughout the country. F. CHALLENGES FOR YOUTH PARTICIPATION

Youth collective participation in Viet Nam has always been strongly encouraged and guided by the Communist Party of Viet Nam and by the State. Youth have been provided with numerous formal channels to voice their opinions and ideas, predominantly through mass organizations such as the HCYU, which has ministerial status in Viet Nam. Representatives of the HCYU are allowed to attend Government sessions related to youth issues, and the HCYU is the principle drafter of the forthcoming Law on Youth. The HCYU and the Viet Nam Youth Federation with 3.5 million and 2.5 million members respectively, are the primary organizations through which youth receive information from the Communist Party and the Government. The two organizations disseminate information to youth through political awareness campaigns as well as their own mass media channels. They also collect the ideas and opinions of youth through surveys and writing, to be fed back to the Government.

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Youth specific data have not yet been collected with regard to voting, yet it is expected that youth participation in voting is extremely high given that the overall voter participation exceeds 98 per cent at the national level and 97 per cent at the local level. Youth representation in the National Assembly is almost 10 per cent for the period 1997-2002 and this rate increases at the local levels to 15 per cent at the provincial level, 25 per cent at the district level, and 38 per cent at the commune level. Disaggregated data were not available for youth by sex at either the national or the local levels, or by geographic location at the national level. The CPVN and the State have significant achievements in the area of youth participation in Viet Nam. Channels for voicing the opinions of youth, especially at the local level, could still be strengthened to ensure that the voices of the millions of youth in the country are heard and that their needs are addressed.

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VI

A.

CONCLUSIONS

Youth concerns have been a priority of the Vietnamese Government and the Communist Party of Viet Nam. The forthcoming Law on Youth will enhance the on-going work on youth by establishing a framework for coordinated youth development work. The draft Law has incorporated the voices and concerns of youth from throughout the country through consultations organized by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) from the commune to the national levels. Studies such as this on youth development have also contributed to the policy formulation process. Despite improvements across all social development sectors following the Renovation of 1986 and the subsequent rapid economic growth experienced in Viet Nam, more efforts are needed to ensure that all youth have access to services and benefit equally from the development process. This monograph has identified education, health, employment and participation as the four main areas of concern of youth in Viet Nam. In education, remarkable gains have been made at all levels. Enrolment and completion rates have increased considerably, while drop-out and repetition rates have decreased. Despite the improvements, enrolment rates are still low at the secondary and tertiary levels, particularly in rural areas and in regions such as the north-west, the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands. These areas have farther to go from their initial low starting point.
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Low educational attainment among youth results primarily from poverty as they leave school in search of employment. In some remote areas, the lack of facilities has also hindered the educational opportunities of youth. A shortage of teachers in Viet Nam as well as inadequately trained instructors, have also lowered the quality of education, particularly outside urban centres. The efforts of the Vietnamese government in the area of education reform together with poverty reduction programmes have resulted in positive gains for youth, particularly in rural areas and remote regions. Such initiatives require continual enhancement to ensure equity and access to education for all. In the area of health, youth concerns have not been specifically addressed in Viet Nam. Age disaggregated data are unavailable for mortality rates, morbidity rates and reproductive health indicators. National health policies incorporate general health problems that include those of youth, but youthspecific concerns are not explicitly addressed. With behaviour patterns and health concerns of youth differing considerably from those of the population in other age brackets, a national youth health policy should be considered. HIV/AIDS and substance abuse are primary health concerns among young people, as youth form the majority of victims in both cases. As HIV/AIDS is spread primarily through intravenous drug users in Viet Nam, the two issues must continue to be addressed simultaneously. Youth in regions such as the north-east, the north-west and the south-west, which have traditionally had high concentrations of substance abusers, need to be continuously targeted, but emerging problem areas such as the Red River Delta, and specifically Hanoi, also require urgent attention. Significant gains have been in the area of basic health infrastructure and in services, including the provision of safe water, sanitation and medical facilities, yet greater improvements are needed to ensure that all Vietnamese have access to preventative and curative health care. In employment, rapid economic growth has led to more job opportunities for youth throughout the country. Diversification from solely agriculture to other income generating activities, as well as increased industrialization, has resulted in increased incomes among youth. Nonetheless, unemployment in the urban areas and underemployment in the rural areas continue to affect youth due to a lack of appropriate skills in the labour force. Skills training programmes which are coordinated with market demands for labour need to be enhanced.
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Working conditions have improved in some sectors, but generally remain poor. A lack of safety precautions has resulted in accidents involving toxic and poisonous substances among youth workers in both the agricultural and the industrial sectors. Congested and poorly ventilated workplaces continue to affect the health of youth. Youth participation has always been actively encouraged by the Government and the Communist Party in Viet Nam. In politics, youth form almost 10 per cent of the members of the National Assembly. Their representation in local level politics is even higher at 15 per cent at the provincial level, 25 per cent at the district level and 38 per cent at the commune level. Although age-specific data on voting are unavailable, general voter turn-outs of over 97 per cent indicate that youth actively participate in the voting process. The HCYU, the largest youth organization in status and its representatives are invited to sessions that deal with youth issues. With a extending from the national to the commune youth from across the country in both policy implementation. the country, has ministerial participate in Government membership of 3.5 million, levels, the HCYU involves formulation and programme

Other youth organizations such as the Viet Nam Youth Federation and the Viet Nam Students’ Association have worked closely with the HCYU to assist millions of youth in economic, social and political development. Participation should be further encouraged through the media to involve youth who are not members of youth mass organizations, thereby ensuring that the concerns of all youth are voiced and addressed. B. POLICY GUIDELINES: A SUMMARY

The World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond recommended that governments formulate and adopt an integrated national youth policy as a means of addressing youth-related concerns. A national youth policy is a mandating document for the development of specific programmes and plans for meeting the needs and aspirations of youth. It is a statement of society’s commitment to youth. As such, the
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entire policy process must reflect the needs of young people. The only way to ensure this is to involve youth at every stage of the youth policy formulation and action plan implementation processes. A Law on Youth, which is to be submitted to the National Assembly in 2001, should serve as a comprehensive youth policy when adopted. Policy-making is not a one-time exercise; thus it is necessary for a policy process to be put in place and goals and objectives set. The process begins with a review of existing policies, programmes and projects that directly or indirectly affect the lives of youth. This analysis should take into consideration the many government agencies dealing with youth to assess if duplication or redundancy exists. A detailed action plan for the implementation of the objectives of the youth policy should follow. The policy process consists of several other elements, such as problem and resource identification, resource mobilization and programme/project coordination. Problem identification, which includes needs identification, helps ensure that the action plan has realistic goals and objectives. Correct knowledge of the situation is crucial for determining and ranking the concerns that must be addressed. Developing realistic action plans means taking into account the availability and limitations of resources. Financial resources are crucial, but other resources, such as administrative capability, motivational commitment of various actors, and capacity for the management of social, cultural, political and environmental factors must also be built into the plans. When the plans are realistic, the progress of their implementation can be properly monitored. One of the crucial elements for the formulation and implementation of youth policy and action plans is coordination. An effective policy and its efficient implementation call for coordination within the various levels of a single ministry, and between ministries, departments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. This is best accomplished through an effective national coordinating mechanism. Once the youth policy has been formulated, and accompanying action plans and coordinating mechanisms set, the focus must be on implementation. Appropriate, relevant, and targeted programmes and projects are the key to successful realization of the policy’s goals and objectives. Major bottlenecks in implementation often arise from inadequate cooperation between line
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ministries and their departments on the one hand, and the key resource ministries, such as planning and finance, on the other. It is thus crucial that the agency in overall charge of youth affairs be given the authority to oversee the implementation of youth activities, in order to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure effective programmes and projects. Full implementation of an action plan, derived from the goals and objectives delineated in the youth policy will depend critically on building adequate human resource capability for efficient management at every level. Full understanding of the intended objectives and impact of the youth policy, by those implementing the programmes, is also a major prerequisite. Another important element of success is the flexibility of plans, programmes and personnel to meet the challenges presented by rapidly changing contexts. Monitoring of the implementation of youth programmes, both government and non-governmental, is thus required on a continual basis. Sufficient resources must be set aside for the monitoring and evaluation processes. The National Committee on Youth, with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union as its primary member, can perform these many functions only if it has the adequate resources, both financial and human. Effective coordination among the many actors involved in youth policy formulation and programme/project implementation, through regular monitoring of activities, will require sufficient devolution of authority to the National Committee on Youth. In turn, the Committee must use such resources prudently through a systematic analysis of the current situation and changing needs. It must provide a realistic assessment of existing, available and potential resources and generate new viable options, so as to remove bottlenecks and accelerate implementation. It must be able to help agencies harmonize diverse activities by pointing to the overlaps, duplications and redundancies in the programmes. A crucial task for the National Committee on Youth will be to ensure that agencies and ministries do not treat youth-specific programmes as just an ‘add on’ to their other priority programmes. To ensure such mainstreaming of youth-specific programmes, the Committee should make inputs into the formulation and implementation of policies and plans of various departments and agencies for such related areas as gender equality, poverty alleviation, or securing the rights of young people in need of special protection. In this way, competition for resources can be turned into cooperation, such that the quality of outcomes is enhanced for all concerned.
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As the coordinating mechanism, the National Committee on Youth will be called upon to ensure that an appropriate balance between central coordination, local priority-setting and decentralized implementation is maintained. The Committee has several other functions, such as advocacy, ensuring coverage, managing decentralization, identifying lead agencies, resource mobilization and enhancing legitimacy and support for plans and programmes. These are discussed in detail in the original policy guidelines (Lele, Wright and Kobayashi, forthcoming). The recommendations about the policy process, discussed above, constitute some general but central considerations for successful implementation. Specific recommendations arising from those principles are outlined below. C. 1. RECOMMENDATIONS National Youth Policy

(a) Recommendation
The draft Law on Youth should be adopted by the National Assembly and effectively enforced to enhance youth development efforts in the country. Justification A consolidated youth policy still does not exist in Viet Nam and youth concerns have not been mainstreamed in all ministries. The implementation of the Law on Youth would strengthen the coordination of youth development initiatives. Implementation The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, as the drafter of the Law on Youth, and the Viet Nam Youth Federation, as the umbrella organization of youth groups, should coordinate with all ministries to monitor the implementation of the Law on Youth once it is adopted by the National Assembly.
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2. Education

(a) Recommendation
Educational resources and facilities in both the public and private sector should be expanded, particularly in rural and remote areas. Justification Although significant achievements have been made in the eradication of illiteracy in Viet Nam, a regional disparity remains. A lack of teachers, educational facilities and resources such as textbooks, teaching materials and scientific equipment still remains a concern, particularly in rural and remote regions of the country. There is also a lack of schools, such as those for vocational training, in some areas that contributes to low enrolment of youth. Implementation The Ministry of Education and Training should coordinate with the private sector to provide incentives for teachers and to increase educational infrastructure and resources throughout the country.

(b) Recommendation
Support programmes for poor youth should be enhanced, including grants, loans and scholarships. Justification Financial constraints are a major cause of low enrolments in secondary and tertiary education. Drop-out rates are substantial at all levels of education, and completion rates are very low due to poverty and financial difficulties faced by students’ families. Implementation Support programmes for poor families should be implemented in tandem with expansion of projects to extend educational opportunities for all.

(c) Recommendation
Vocational education and training should be expanded and encouraged, and programmes should be coordinated with the demands of the employment sector.
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Justification Some 94 1999 and exists for There is unable to per cent of the Vietnamese youth labour force were unskilled in unemployment is becoming an increasing concern. A demand skilled labour but has been unmet by supply of qualified students. simultaneously an oversupply of university graduates who are find employment upon graduation.

Implementation The Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, as well as other concerned organizations in both the public and the private sectors should improve coordination, and promote vocational training among youth in line with short and long-term demands for labour.

(d) Recommendation
Teaching curricula and methodology should be reformed to foster creative thinking and student participation in the learning process. Justification Rote learning and teacher-centred teaching approaches predominate in Viet Nam, inhibiting the critical thinking process among youth. Implementation The Ministry of Education and Training should train teachers in participatory methodology and enforce participatory teaching methodology in all educational curricula. 3. Health

(a) Recommendation
A youth health policy should be developed to address the specific concerns of young men and young women in Viet Nam. Justification No youth-targeted health policy exists in Viet Nam to date, even though it is evident that youth behaviour patterns and health needs differ substantially from those of adults and children. Studies have, for example,
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shown that risky behaviour patterns among youth have made them more vulnerable than other age groups to diseases such as HIV/AIDS and to substance abuse. Implementation The HCYU and the Viet Nam Youth Federation should coordinate with the Ministry of Health to formulate a youth health policy.

(b) Recommendation
A system should be put in place to collect data on youth health disaggregated by sex. Justification Health data disaggregated by age and by sex are scarce in Viet Nam, and are unavailable for mortality rates, morbidity rates, infection rates of sexually transmitted diseases and abortion rates. As youth behaviour patterns and health needs differ from other age groups, a disaggregation of data is critical for the formulation of relevant youth health policy. Implementation The HCYU and the Viet Nam Youth Federation should coordinate with the Ministry of Health and the General Statistical Office to collect youth health data disaggregated by age and sex.

(c) Recommendation
Health services and infrastructure should be improved throughout the country, particularly in north-west and the Central Highlands. Investment in the health care sector should be increased. Justification A shortage of medical personnel, equipment and facilities exists in rural and remote areas of the country, thereby denying people living in poor areas access to basic health services. The majority of the people in Viet Nam still do not have access to safe water and sanitation. Implementation The Ministry of Health should coordinate with the private sector to expand and enhance basic health care services throughout the country.
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(d) Recommendation
HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention and treatment campaigns should be further promoted, particularly among youth. Areas such as Hanoi, in which the problem has only recently emerged, should be specifically targeted. Justification Among people living with HIV/AIDS in Viet Nam, youth form the majority. The disease is most prevalent among intravenous drug users who are predominantly youth. The number of drug users has decreased in all provinces with the highest concentrations of drug use. The number of users has, however, been rising in Hanoi which was not a problem area in the past. Implementation The efforts of the Ministry of Health and other relevant organizations in this area should be further coordinated and enhanced. 4. Employment

(a) Recommendation
Economic reforms need to be further enhanced to ensure continued economic growth and generate increased employment opportunities for youth. Justification Viet Nam’s transition from a centrally-planned to a market economy has brought increased employment opportunities for the country’s working population, the majority of whom are youth. Employment, however, remains a major concern for young people in Viet Nam. Implementation A continued focus should be given by relevant Ministries to the youth employment opportunities created through economic reform.

(b) Recommendation
Vocational training should be further expanded to meet the market’s demand for skilled workers, and to address issues of unemployment and underemployment for youth.
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Justification The labour market per cent of youth workers, one-third limited demand. training sector and problem of youth. Recommendation The efforts of the education and training sector and the employment sector need to be better coordinated to ensure relevant training of youth in meeting the demands of the labour market. in Viet Nam increasingly requires skilled workers, yet 94 workers were unskilled in 1999. Among skilled youth are graduates with academic skills, for whom there is The lack of coordination between the education and the employment sector has exacerbated the employment

(c) Recommendation
Further skills and entrepreneurship training, including credit programmes, should be encouraged in rural areas so that youth can diversify their production to include non-farm activities. Justification The majority of the population in Viet Nam is engaged in agriculture. Although combining agricultural activities with non-farm initiatives has provided farmers with an increased and steadier income, most farmers lack the skills and resources necessary to engage in non-farm initiatives. Implementation The HCYU should coordinate with the concerned ministries to promote non-farm activities among youth in the rural areas.

(d) Recommendation
Age-specific employment policies and programmes should be established in Viet Nam. Justification The 15 to 24 year age group forms the majority of unemployed youth in Viet Nam, pointing to a need to develop age-specific employment policies that target the most vulnerable age sub-groups. To date, age-specific employment policies and programmes still do not exist in the country.
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Implementation The HCYU should coordinate with the concerned ministries to develop agespecific employment policies and programmes.

(e) Recommendation
Attention should be given to the working conditions of youth, particularly among small-enterprises. Justification Although the data is not age-specific, youth as the majority of the workforce suffer from unsafe working conditions. In the rural areas, the improper use of pesticides and growth hormones pose a threat to workers. In urban areas, dampness, poorly ventilated and cramped working conditions, as well as toxic emissions often threatens young workers’ health. Implementation The HCYU should coordinate with the Ministry of Health and other concerned ministries to ensure safe working conditions for the youth. 5. Participation

(a) Recommendation
Communication channels for youth should be improved to enhance participation of all youth in Viet Nam. Coordination mechanisms within youth mass organizations should also be improved. Justification The HCYU and the Viet Nam Youth Federation have memberships of 3.5 million and 2.5 million respectively. Despite these impressive numbers, several million more Vietnamese youth are not members of these organizations and their concerns may not be voiced as few alternative channels exist for youth. Within these large mass organizations coordination mechanisms need to be enhanced to ensure that the concerns of the diversified groups of youth in all regions of the country are addressed.
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Implementation An evaluation should be conducted on youth participation within the HCYU and the VYF and recommendations for improved coordination, if necessary, should be made. Alternative media channels for youth should be encouraged to increase participation among non-members of the HCYU and the VYF.

(b) Recommendation
The collection of data on youth participation disaggregated by age and sex should be improved. Justification Youth specific data has not yet been collected with regard for voting, nor is sex-disaggregated data available on youth representation in the National Assembly at either the national or local levels or by geographic area. Implementation The HCYU and the Viet Nam Youth Federation should coordinate with the General Statistical Office to collect disaggregated data on youth participation.

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