Lighting up the future of schoolgirls in Vietnam

Dinh Thi Kim Thuy, a young girl who used to study with an oil lamp, can now take the stage and give presentations in fluent English, thanks to the program.

Thuy has lived on a poor island in Tra On district of Vinh Long province since childhood. She had to study with an oil lamp and design a computer keyboard to practice computing at home due to lack of electricity. Thanks to her participation in the tutoring program for schoolgirls, Thuy had the opportunity to pursue her aspirations.

Thuy was chosen as a delegate to share her experience in front of hundreds of people at the 2019 Hong Kong Schoolgirl Support Gala.

She also shared her story with several organizations in Hong Kong under the program, including HSBC, MetLife, Hong Kong Broadband Network, Rosewood, etc.

Kim Thuy tells her story in front of hundreds of guests at the Room to Read Hongkong Gala 2019. Photo by Room to Read

Vo Thi Thuy Dung (Long An Province), like Kim Thuy, was a shy and shy girl.

Dung’s family had moved 11 times since she was in third grade due to difficult circumstances. However, the little girl’s desire to go to school was not affected.

In seventh grade, Dung was allowed to participate in an educational assistance program for schoolgirls, which inspired her to continue her studies.

Thuy Dung went from a little girl who dared not stand in front of a crowd to a business manager for a real estate company after actively pursuing her favorite career and daring to try her hand at higher positions.

Both Thuy and Dung were part of the girls’ education program of Room to Read – a global non-profit organization focused on girls’ education and children’s literacy, with programs in Asia and Africa.

This year, the program will be supported by Masterise Group, a real estate company, to carry out a variety of activities in schools in three districts Tam Binh (Vinh Long province), Tra Cu (Tra Vinh province) and Can Giuoc (Long An Province).

Both units will provide life skills education, counseling (individual and group), community-family-school linkages and material support to girls from disadvantaged communities.

Sylvia Lee, Director of Marketing Communications, Masterise Homes, said she was both proud and surprised that Masterise Group is one of the first local businesses in Vietnam to partner with Room to Read.

“Masterise Group also aspires to encourage girls to acquire the required knowledge and create a better future for all through educational support,” Lee said.

Masterise Group and Room to Read representatives.  Photo by Masterise Group

Masterise Group and Room to Read representatives. Photo by Masterise Group

Yen Nhi and Hoai Bang, both senior students at Vinh Xuan High School (Vinh Long province), come from disadvantaged backgrounds but are not qualified for poor household certificates.

In grade 9, Nhi intended to quit school to work and support her family. Nhi was moved to tears when she saw mentors from the girls’ education program arrive at the home of a student who had left school to encourage her fellow students to return to school.

“I think, why do people care so much about me, when I neglect myself, I want to quit school to go to work. Why don’t I try to learn, so that I can have a good life, a future best,” Nhi confided.

“My mum maintained that life has been difficult since leaving school in the past. That’s why I want a stable job that allows me to take care of my parents and my financial independence,” Bang said.

Nhi and Bang have changed dramatically from the past, thanks to the support of teachers from the girls’ education program.

They learned a variety of important life skills, including team management, self-defense, learning to socialize with others, and planning for their future careers.

“I feel like I’m growing up. It’s not natural to have a girl like me right now speaking confidently in front of a crowd. It’s a long training process,” Nhi said.

Special ‘second mothers’

Kien The Nga (Dai An – Tra Vinh Secondary School) had to change his work schedule every day after agreeing to collaborate in the girls’ education program. She takes care of her children in the morning, drives them to school and prepares lesson plans for teaching.

Nga is the one who personally visits girls’ homes, counsels parents and urges them to return to school for many years.

She also takes teaching classes to provide children with basic life skills.

“I just want to convey the message that girls should have the same level of education as boys. There are many professions that girls should know, identify their goals and improve. Women are half the world and each of them can decide ‘the world’ in their hands,” Nga said.

Girls' Education Program students attend a session.  Photo by Room to Read

Girls’ Education Program students attend a session. Photo by Room to Read

Nga is one of many contributors to the girls’ education program.

Due to Covid-19, many girls’ families experienced difficult circumstances in 2021, which forced them to leave school.

The program collaborators worked hard to convince the girls to return to school despite the confinement due to Covid-19. As a result, 16 students were recruited to continue their studies in the project areas.

“These are energizing journeys to continue learning despite material and mental obstacles.

Some students cycle to school for 90 minutes every day, but they refuse to give up. Some students take a gap year after graduating from high school to work and save money for further education. Some people bravely battled nephrotic disease to take university tests,” said a program representative.

Michelle Obama, former first lady of the United States, once said, let the girls learn, and they will show the world what they can do.

Kim Thuy and Nga’s stories motivated Masterise Group to support Room to Read with a desire to help girls achieve brighter futures through education.

“We hope Masterise Group’s partnership will not only provide opportunities for children to gain a well-rounded education, but will also help expand this important program so that more girls can benefit from corporate and community support,” said a spokesperson for Masterise Group.

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