Literacy and Continuing Education and Capacity Building Programme for Ethnic Minorities

Country Profile: Viet Nam


86,116,559 (2008 estimate)

Official Language

Vietnamese (other common languages: Thái, Tày, Mường, Khmer, Chăm, Chinese, Nùng, H'Mông, French and English)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

94% (2006)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

94% (1995-2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2005)

Total: 90% Male: 94% Female: 87%


Programme Overview

Programme TitleLiteracy and Continuing Education and Capacity Building Programme for Ethnic Minorities
Implementing OrganizationNational Organisation for Community Education, Continuing Education and Development (NOCEAD)
FundingOfficial Development Assistance (ODA), Japan; NOCEAD

Context and Background

Vietnam has made impressive strides towards the achievement of Education for All (EFA). In addition to net enrolment rates of over 90 per cent in primary education, the total national literacy rate is also high, at 90.3 per cent and 94 per cent for adults and young people (24 years and above) respectively. However, despite the impressive progress, ethnic minorities and particularly women and girls, have had little access to education and therefore, remain illiterate. High rates of illiteracy among ethnic minorities partly explain high rates of poverty in their communities, as well as their limited inclusion in national developmental activities. In light of this, the National Organisation for Community Education, Continuing Education and Development (NOCEAD) initiated the Literacy and Continuing Education and Capacity Building Programme for Ethnic Minorities in an effort to combat illiteracy and to promote development in and social empowerment among marginalised minority communities. Women and girls were particularly targeted, not only because they are traditionally socially marginalised, but also because as demonstrated in many countries, they are often the key actors in community developmental activities.

The Literacy and Continuing Education and Capacity Building Programme for Ethnic Minorities

NOCEAD-Vietnam was established in 1991 as a national non-governmental organisation (NGO). NOCEAD endeavours to promote social empowerment through an integrated approach to community development and literacy and educational training. The Literacy and Continuing Education and Capacity Building Programme for Ethnic Minorities was designed especially for ethnic minority adult women (18 to 45 years) in an effort to combat illiteracy and thus to contribute towards the achievement of EFA goals as well as to promote community development. To this end, NOCEAD has established community-based continuing education centres (CECs) and community learning centres (CLC) where literacy and vocational training classes and community development activities are undertaken through the coordination of field facilitators. The programme focuses on thematic areas which particularly and appropriately address the needs of learners and their communities as determined through community-based needs assessment surveys. These include:

Aims and Objectives

The major aims of the programme are to:

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

Training of Facilitators

Since the inception of the programme, about 575 community-based, 70 regional and 330 provincial-based non-formal education (NFE) facilitators have been recruited and trained. NFE facilitators receive training in adult literacy (including multi-grade) teaching methods and management of adult classes, curriculum content, lesson planning and evaluation of adult NFE. After the training, each facilitator is provided with a teaching manual (Handbook for Non-formal Adult Education Facilitators) the main learners' book (Handbook for Adult Learning Materials Development at Community Level) and other teaching-learning materials to be distributed to learners. Each facilitator is assigned a group of 15 learners and is paid a monthly stipend of US$30.

Teaching-Learning Methodologies

NOCEAD employs a learner-centred participatory teaching-learning method, which nurtures the active participation of learners in their learning process. As such, learners are encouraged to learn by doing, or from each other through discussions. In addition to CLC and CEC-based learning activities, NOCEAD also employs mobile teaching and distance learning strategies: in the former, facilitators visit learners in their home communities while in the latter, literacy lessons are delivered over the radio or by means of audio-cassettes/CDs or through the distribution of self-administered learning materials. In either situation, however, learners are provided with literacy learning materials including audio-cassettes, posters, games and learners' handbook.

Project Impact and Challenges

Monitoring and Evaluation

CEC or CLC-based facilitators are primarily responsible for undertaking programme monitoring and evaluation on an ongoing basis through their interaction with the learners and by assessing feedback from learners. In addition to this, NFE facilitators also set special tests/examinations to assess the progress of learners in acquiring literacy skills and to establish their emerging needs and challenges. In order to maintain high programme standards and effectiveness, facilitators are also monitored and mentored by provincial NFE officers through field visits. The NFE officers are also responsible for undertaking internal programme evaluation. Beyond internal evaluation, the programme has also been evaluated by professional external examiners.


The programme has made major contributions in improving literacy levels among ethnic minorities. About 22,000 learners have graduated from the programme and most of them are now able to read and write. More specifically:

The programme has also designed, developed and distributed a variety of NFE learning materials which are now widely used by the communities as well as by other NGOs in their literacy and education projects. In order to promote lifelong learning and long-term community development, the programme facilitated the training of 1,000 NFE facilitators, of which 575 were based in local communities while 400 coordinated provincial or regional NFE activities. The human resource capital will ensure the long-term sustainability of the programme.


The lack of sufficient resources (including learning materials and vehicles to travel to remote areas) due to inadequate funding has hindered the effective implementation and expansion of the programme. Inadequate funding has also hindered the ability of NOCEAD to pay competitive salaries to facilitators which has, in turn, negatively affected their commitment to the programme and has often led to brain drain. In order to resolve these challenges, there is need to enhance NOCEAD's cooperation with NGO actors and the government.


Since its inception, NOCEAD has developed a variety of literacy teaching-learning materials (including booklets, posters, games and leaflets) which were widely distributed to the learners and their communities. The distribution of literacy materials to the communities has provided the basis for family-based lifelong learning. The materials are also being used by other NGOs in their literacy and education programmes. In addition, NOCEAD has also trained a network of community-based NFE facilitators who, potentially, could continue providing literacy learning assistance to their people when the programmes come to an end.

Lessons Learned

It has been observed that, despite encountering major challenges, most learners are highly self-motivated and committed to learn because they are now aware of the importance of education in their lives and for improving their living standards. Literacy programmes should therefore build on the learners’ enthusiasm to ensure lifelong learning.



Dr. Ngo Quang Son
Executive Vice Director of NOCEAD-Vietnam
P. O. Box 152 I.P.0 Hanoi
Tel:090 341 7982
Fax: 84-4-8250000
Email: nocead.acculrc (at)

Last update: 4 April 2012