A Complex Historical and Geographical Context

Vietnam has registered strong economic growth for nearly 20 years, thanks to numerous investments. But the precariousness in rural areas, particularly in mountainous regions, remains high. The country is home to nearly 54 ethnic minority groups, many of which are still living below the poverty threshold. Each ethnic group has its own culture, way of life, dialect and traditions and is keen to preserve them while gradually changing certain mentalities concerning hygiene, drinking water, health care, etc.

In this region of Kon Tum, on the highlands of Central Vietnam, agriculture and stockbreeding (mainly cattle and pigs) remain the most important sectors. Farmers grow mainly manioc, sugar cane, bananas and rice because the very arid land and the subtropical climate are not yet conducive to a great agricultural diversity.

During the rainy season (the monsoon, which runs from June to November), many villages are difficult to reach and consequently remain very isolated. Children cannot always get to school because of heavy rains, typhoons, mudslides and landslides.

Investment in school infrastructure and facilities, bridges and roads is still insufficient. Children have to travel several kilometres and cross many obstacles, risking their lives, before they can get to school. For this reason, but also because their families are often very poor, many children sacrifice their education and health to work in the fields with their parents.