Ambassador of New Zealand to Vietnam Wendy Matthews speaks at the closing workshop to conclude the Gia Lai Early Childhood Care and Development project. (Photo: Facebook page of New Zealand Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam)

Gia Lai (VNA) – Preschool enrolment in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai increased from 65 percent in 2012 to 98 percent this year thanks to a joint project, said Ambassador of New Zealand to Vietnam Wendy Matthews in the provincial capital of Pleiku on June 14.

She made the statement at the closing workshop to conclude the Gia Lai Early Childhood Care and Development project, led by the provincial Department of Education and Training (DOET) with support from New Zealand and Plan International in Vietnam.

The project is carried out between June, 2012 and October, 2018 to improve developmental outcomes for ethnic minority children aged 0-8 in seven most disadvantaged communes in the province, including To Tung and Kroong of K’Bang district, Tu An of An Khe town, Ya Hoi and Yang Bac of Dak Po district, Kong Yang and Nam Yang of Kong Chro district. It has reached 162,000 children and almost 10,000 teachers and staff from preschools and elementary schools across Gia Lai.

It has a budget of 9.5 million NZD (6.68 million USD), of which the Government of New Zealand has funded 7.5 million NZD (5.27 million USD).

When the project started in 2012, only 10 percent of interviewed parents had knowledge and skills about child care in terms of nutrition, hygiene assurance and more for children aged 0 – 3; now the figure grew to 88 percent, Matthews noted.

“These are more than just numbers, they are real improvements in the lives of children. This success is thanks to the practical training tools developed by DOET and Plan International for parents and teachers.”

“These tools are now strongly owned by the people of Gia Lai and used across the province. I am confident that the Gia Lai authorities will continue to use these training tools and thereby build a brighter future for the children of the province,” she added.

Huynh Nu Thu Ha, Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee, thanked the Government of New Zealand and Plan International Vietnam for supporting the project.

She also spoke highly of the project’s outcomes, saying it has helped build a child-friendly environment for children and make a closer bond between students and their teachers as teachers have not only provided education for the students but also taken care of them as their own children. At the same time, the relations between parents and teachers have been enhanced through the child care and education activities.

She pledged that the province will scale up successful pre-school models after the project ends.-VNA