Disabled children will stand a better chance of community integration if they are equipped with the appropriate skills at an early age, a recent conference heard.

Speaking at the June 18 conference, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien said that policies on educating disabled children for better integration had already been chalked out in 1996 and officially applied in 2002 throughout Vietnam .

Policies proved relatively ineffective until the Ministry of Education and Training conducted pilot projects at nine schools in northern Ninh Binh and central Quang Nam provinces in 2008.

The projects focused on disabled and disadvantaged students at secondary and high school levels, at which it was believed that studying pressure and psychological changes affected the students in efficient integration.

As part of the projects, the students were equipped with life skills, health care and career orientation while being given an additional opportunity to make friends.

The projects attracted 553 disabled and disadvantaged students in total, among which 37 suffered from serious handicaps including mental development illnesses, hearing impairments and Agent Orange/dioxin infections.

Deputy Minister Hien said that the projects had had remarkable effects on teachers, educational staff and had helped raise community awareness and behaviour towards the students.

Nguyen Hai Chau, deputy head of the ministry's High School Training Department, said that educating disabled students in order to better integrate into their communities will take place at 63 secondary schools nation-wide by 2015.

Top-listed schools will be kitted out with supportive rooms set to include studying tools worth 20,000 USD

According to Chau, the ministry has given priority to disabled students starting school at older ages than usual, reducing or exempting school fees, cancelling subjects unsuitable to disabled students and supporting studying tools.

Experts will be mobilised in order to supply assistance when needed.

Chau added that the Law on People with Disabilities, which took effect at the start of the year, will further help people integrate into their communities. /.