VIETNAM: New Bakery School Offers Educational Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities
(MissionNewswire) A Salesian program in Ho Chi Minh City, the capital of Vietnam, offers youth with disabilities a chance to learn a trade and an opportunity for self-sufficiency. The bakery school was started by Francis Van Hoi, a Salesian graduate from Vietnam who is now living in Germany. He was concerned about youth in Vietnam who lacked educational opportunities and wanted to give them a chance at a better life like he had through Salesian schools.
Noting the close to 50 four- and five-star hotels and hundreds of restaurants with different and interesting culinary offerings located in Ho Chi Minh City that needed well-trained staff, Van Hoi though this type of training would be a fast-track for youth to access jobs right in their own backyard. The Salesian bakery school was opened in the summer of 2016. It works in collaboration with the local Salesian school for cooking and catering that had already been in operation offering high quality training to the students.
“We always have a lot of requests from companies and hotels that rely on our training because we do not teach only job skills, but rather we serve the students in their entirety, in business protocol, civic education, hygiene, social skills and more,” says Van Hoi.
One of the primary focuses of the school is to train youth who have disabilities because they often lack educational opportunities and have such a high rate of unemployment. In Vietnam, nearly 7.5 million people, 1.7 million of whom are youth, have some type of disability. Many disabilities are the result of chemical weapons used during the war in Vietnam, like the infamous Agent Orange. For children with disabilities living in Vietnam, access to education is limited and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty is almost nonexistent. UNICEF notes in its State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities report that globally, close to 61 percent of boys finish school but for boys with disabilities that number drops to 51 percent. For girls, 53 percent finish school but among those living with a disability, only 42 percent finish their education.
“Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school when compared to their peers,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth with disabilities have the same ability to achieve as their peers, if given the opportunity. Salesian programs are working to make sure that all students have access to the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.”
Salesian schools, services and programs throughout Vietnam are helping to break the cycle of poverty while giving many young people hope for a more positive and productive future. Salesian vocational and technical schools equip students with the skills they need to compete in the local labor market by offering courses that lead to employment in construction, hotel management, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science and other fields. Many Salesian students are school dropouts seeking a second chance.
According to the World Bank, close to 14 percent of Vietnam’s population lives in conditions of poverty. The country has seen a drastic reduction of poverty over the last 20 years when the poverty rate was close to 60 percent. Vietnam has also made remarkable progress in education. Primary and secondary enrollments for those in poverty have reached more than 90 percent and 70 percent respectively. Rising levels of education and diversification into off-farm activities, such as working in construction, factories or domestic housework have also contributed to reducing poverty in the country.
While nearly 30 million Vietnamese have been lifted out of poverty in the past 20 years, challenges remain. According to the World Bank, although Vietnam’s 53 ethnic minority groups make up less than 15 percent of the population, they accounted for nearly 50 percent of the poor in 2010. Most minorities continue to reside in more isolated and less productive regions of Vietnam. Rapid economic transformation and growth have contributed to rising inequality in income and opportunities. Some of the poor, especially those living in rural areas or small cities, have limited access to high quality education and health services and limited long-term well-paying jobs.
World Bank – Vietnam