During this, the first full week of my internship I have really just been trying to get to know the city and understand the project that I will be working on. I think that the original idea that I would be conducting a research project on barriers and supports to education for minority girls seems like the priority really is to assist in an initiative that is supporting the development of PTAs in disadvantaged school districts. I will still be working in the Khmer community of in Tra Vinh, but more on the community development project than the research side. This is fine with me as I came expecting things to shift. There is some talk about me doing both, but I am not sure if that is realistic. I will certainly give it a shot.
From what I have learned so far the education system in Vietnam is undergoing a huge shift from a teacher-centred approach where students learn by memorization, to more of a student-centred style like we have in Canada. It was hard for me even to appreciate what the difference between the two approaches were until I walked by a school and literally saw the teacher saying something and the students repeating it in unison. All learning in all subjects has been that way for decades in Vietnam. This coming school year will be the first of the new focus.
The PEDC program has been established to bring children from minority communities, street children and other disadvantaged kids up to speed in the education system. The stats on basic primary education in Vietnam are very good, but as with many aboriginal communities in Canada, these children have been left behind. In some cases it really seems that a lack of physical infrastructure and funding is the problem, but this project proposes that parents and the community play a larger role in solving some of these problems in creative local ways.
I will write more about this as I get a better understanding.