As many as 39 delegates from five ethnic minorities with a population under 1,000 members took part in a workshop held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi on February 9 to discuss practical solutions to protecting and promoting their cultural values.

In his speech at the event, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan said that Si La, Pu Deo, Ro Mam, Brau and O Du ethnic groups are struggling under disadvantaged conditions, which prevent them from saving their own culture.

He underscored that languages, scripts and costumes of some of the groups have faded into oblivion while others have lost their traditional housing models and villages, adding that cultural and ethnic researchers have indicated that these are only the beginning of the disappearance of cultural features in ethnic minorities.

Po Cha Nga, representative from the Si La ethnic minority in the northern province of Dien Bien, said that although the group’s living conditions have improved in recent years, specific cultural features have faded due to exchange and expansion with other groups in the localities.

Scientists and participants agreed that comprehensive policies are needed to encourage the development of the population in the five targeted groups while improving access to healthcare, education and job opportunities for the community members.

They encouraged relevant authorities to ensure tribesmen seeking employment in other localities receive favourable conditions, including lands and cultivation tools. For those living outside their communities, participants stressed the importance of proactive cultural protection to preserve the central essence of their respective heritages.

Although all cultural values are essential to ethnic minority preservation and practice, certain central features should receive focused attention to help direct funding and programming and ensure their efficiency, suggested the attendants.

Meanwhile, Vuong Xuan Tinh, Director of the Institute of Anthropology under Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, recommended that research on the cultural heritage of the target groups go further in-depth to determine priority features, including language, costumes, homes, folk songs, and festivals.

He also endorsed the integration of preservation with tourism development, as international visitors have expressed consistent interest in Vietnamese ethnic culture.

According to the General Statistics Office’s 2009 survey, the Si La minority has around 540 members living mostly in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien.

Meanwhile, the Pu Deo inhabiting in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang has 687 members. There are about 436 Ro Mam people in Central Highlands Kon Tum province.

The Brau group is comprised of nearly 400 members residing in the Central Highlands while the O Du group has 276 members living in the central province of Nghe An.-VNA