Vietnam has been implementing its consistent policy that states that ethnic groups are equal and united, respect and help each other for progress, according to the country’s national report on human rights under the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.

In the spirit, Vietnam’s law system has been continuously improved, basically satisfying the country’s socio-economic development policies, including ensuring the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic minority groups.

In recent years, an increasing numbers of ethnic people have been facilitated to join the political system, social management and state management. The rate of ethnic people taking part in political activities is on the rise. The ratio of ethnic National Assembly deputies is higher than that in the country’s population. In the four recent National Assembly tenures, ethnic minority NA deputies accounted for from 15.6-17.27 percent of the total while ethnic minority groups make up only 14.3 percent of the country’s population.

The rate of ethnic people in the People’s Councils (2011-16 tenure) is 18 percent at the provincial level, 20 percent at the district level and 22.5 percent at the communal level.

In the 2006-2012 period, the State issued 160 legal documents relating to socio-economic development policies for ethnic and mountainous areas with funding of 55 trillion VND (2.6 billion USD) from the State budget. Thanks to the assistance, many policies have proved efficient such as the Government’s decision on sustainable poverty reduction, the policy on housing for poor households, and the socio-economic development programme for mountainous areas where ethnic people live, thus improving the wellbeing of ethnic minority groups. These helped reduce the poor household rate in areas with high concentration of ethnic groups to 24.3 percent in 2012 from 32.6 percent in 2009.

Almost all communes have roads and access to electricity.

From 2012 all communes met the standard on primary education universalisation and many of them qualified the secondary education universalisation. Up to 98 percent of children, including 95 percent of ethnic children go to primary schools at the right age of six. All provinces with dense populations of ethnic groups have secondary schools, colleges and vocational institutions covering agriculture, economic and financial management, education and healthcare.

In 2010, the Government issued a decree stipulating the training and learning activities using languages and scripts of ethnic minority groups. After two years of implementation, 12 ethnic languages have been used in 32 provinces.

The Ministry of Education and Training in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has piloted a bilingual education programme in northern Lao Cai, southern Tra Vinh and Central Highland Gia Lai province with encouraging initial results.

In regard to healthcare, 99.4 percent of communes in the areas had infirmaries and over 94 percent of villages had medical workers by 2011, providing health services for ethnic people and free treatment and check-ups for the poor. The country has basically controlled common diseases like malaria and goitre, and seen a fall in the number of malnourished children.

Mentioning the ethnic affairs strategy to 2020, Minister-Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Affairs Giang Seo Phu stressed that during 2014 and 2015, over 3,500 specially difficult villages in 49 provinces nationwide will be added to the investment list of Programme 135 on support for infrastructure and production for specially difficult and border communes. The programme, applauded by international organisations, continues implementing the policy on people resettlement for ethnic minorities to 2015.

Phu added that in 2014, his committee will work with relevant agencies to devise policies and projects in order to develop education and training and improve the quality of human resources from ethnic groups. The efforts are expected to improve the quality and efficiency of the political system, develop the number of ethnic people workers, and strengthen defence and security in areas inhabited by ethnic groups while speeding up poverty reduction and developing culture and healthcare.

Moreover, the spiritual life of ethnic minority groups is also a focus of attention. The Government has approved a project on preserving and developing the cultures of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups. Numerous radio and TV programmes have been made and broadcast in ethnic languages such as Mong, Thai, Ede, Cham and Khmer, while a number of cultural activities recognised as national cultural heritages such as the Long Tong festival (going to the fields) of the Tay ethnic group, Cap Sac (a ritual to recognise a mature man) of the Dao ethnic group. UNESCO has listed some cultural heritages of ethnic people as those of the world such as the Gong Cultural Space of the Central Highlands and My Son Sanctuary.

In addition, people in ethnic and mountainous areas have accessed educational activities on laws or legal assistance services with the operation of legal assistance centres in all the 63 cities and provinces, where they provide free consultancy relating to laws and procedures. Over the past four years, more than 200,000 ethnic people have accessed legal assistance services and nearly 2,000 legal assistance clubs have been established in communes, popularising legal education for local people including those from ethnic groups.-VNA