City tackles issue of homeless children

City tackles issue of homeless children
14:01′ 01/08/2006 (GMT+7)

Street kids should be better educated on the dangers that surround them, a conference held by the department of Education and Training and the city’s Street Children Management last month was told.

The charity classes combine education with life skills and vocational training to impart street kids with the ability to live better and earn more.

According to estimates by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the number of street children in Vietnam is estimated to be around 23,000, including 1,500 in Hanoi and nearly 9,000 in HCM City.

Le Thi Hong Lien, vice director of HCM City’s Education and Training Department said that children who work and live on the streets face danger as they lack education and are unaware of health risks and basic rights.

"Street kids are mainly children who migrate to the city and need to be educated to better protect themselves from dangers that they don’t even know exist," Lien said.

HCM City’s Education and Training Department co-operated closely with the local Population, Family and Children Committee and city schools to organise over 500 evening classes for street children in 189 schools.

The department even organised classes right in the railway stations and markets where they live.

The charity classes combine education with life skills and vocational training to impart street kids with the ability to live better and earn more.

"We also helped kids to take up vocational training programmes which bolster their skills in weaving, hair styling or vehicle mechanics," Lien said.

She added that with such a dangerous lifestyle, life skills also educated them on the risks of a life on the streets, including sex abuse and drugs.

To help street children raise their awareness about dangers of HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy, the educarionsector has co-operated with other organisations like the Youth Union, the Women’s Union and the Committee for Population, Family and Children to set up teams of social workers to impart vital knowledge to children.

To support kids who actually attend the education sessions, city’s authorities and the education sector have also encouraged other organisations and benefactors to provide them with study aids and scholarships.

In Binh Tan District, the Population, Family and Children Committee provided VND20mil (US$1,250) for 100 street children to attend schools and gave VND5mil (US$313) as vocational training fees for 5 street children in the 2005-06 school term.

For street children without proper identification, HCM City authorities instructed judiciary offices in all districts to comply with the necessary formalities for them to go the city’s schools.

Shortcomings remain

Educators and provincial authorities have committed efforts to create favourable conditions for street children to attend schools. However, Lien said educating street children is a difficult task.

At the conference, Le Thi Hoa, vice director of the Department of Education and Training in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa said that financial issues and poor management were limiting what could be accomplished in terms of training for street kids.

"Capital to implement charity classes is limited, leaving most classes that do get up and running without teaching aids and textbooks, and kids cannot always attend as they must work to live," she said.

Hoa said another complicating factor was the fractured level of education among street kids, of which, some have graduated from primary school, while others have never attended a class.

She said that fact made it hard to organise classes, as financial limitations meant that kids of different education have to study together.

To improve the quality of charity classes, Hoa suggested that schools need to better classify students during intakes, prior to enrolment.

Vu Thi My Hanh, principal of District 3-based Luong Dinh Cua primary school said that educators, need to create a friendly and safe environment for street children to attend school.

"Educators also need to organise extra-curricular activities like music concerts and summer caps," said Hanh, adding it gives street kids a chance to integrate into a social community.

Lien added to ensure the quality of study, educators should tighten co-operation with kids’ families and encourage them to let their children attend school.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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