Nearly 2,500 new classrooms, libraries and laboratories have been built in 22 disadvantaged provinces nationwide under a development project in Vietnam.

The Upper Secondary Education Development Project was launched in 2003 in a bid by the Ministry of Education and Training and the Asian Development Bank to improve the quality of secondary education in disadvantaged areas.

Around 59,000 students in the provinces of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Bac Kan , Lang Son, Quang Binh, Ninh Thuan and Kon Tum have all benefited from the project so far.

ADB provided a 64 million USD loan for the project, that is expected to finish in June, six months later than scheduled due to some operational changes, said deputy minister Nguyen Vinh Hien.

It is just one of the Government's efforts to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through enhancing secondary education, he said.

Over 72,000 teachers and education managers have received training as part of the project, and more than 4 million textbooks and teaching aids have been provided for schools.

Reproductive health pamphlets have also been distributed among schoolgirls.

According to a project summary report, over 93 percent of total capital has been disbursed so far.

"The new classrooms have given us increased capacity and we can accommodate 60 percent more students now. Our school is now one of the top schools in the province," said the headmaster of Luong Van Tri Upper Secondary School in the northern province of Lang Son.

The number of disadvantaged students that dropped out of school fell, because many of them had less distance to travel, said a representative from Nguyen Hue Upper Secondary School in the Central Highland province of Gia Lai .

The project also created favourable conditions for disadvantaged and ethnic students to access upper secondary education, said a teacher from Phan Ngoc Hien Upper Secondary School .

"The project helps raise awareness among teachers and education managers about the essentials needed to improve the quality of education in disadvantaged areas," said Tran Nhu Tinh, an official from the Ministry of Education and Training.

The project will be more effective if we receive further investment from the State, Tinh said.

The project has overcome a number of difficulties including personnel changes at ADB and the ministry, slow land clearance and price fluctuations, according to the report.

Eiko Izawar, a representative from ADB in Vietnam said: "We always want to help develop the Vietnamese education system and provide a brighter future for the next generations."

ADB is committed to contributing more and more into the development of Vietnamese education, she said./.