Bik Bok has supported Plan International since 2011, primarily through their campaign “Because I am a Girl” - a global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty.
In the fall of 2014, Bik Bok committed to fund a 3 year project in Quang Tri in central Vietnam. The project has a main focus on addressing the barriers that prevent girls from completing their education.
Plan has been working in the Province of Quang Tri since 1996. Around 632 000 people live here and most of them belong to ethnic minority groups. In these remote and mountainous areas there is a very high poverty rate, and people are suffering from food shortage and inadequate living conditions. Many children grow up in a poor and unhealthy environment. Although Vietnam has economic growth, many of the remote villages are still very poor. Conditions are especially poor for children belonging to ethnic minorities.
The Bik Bok and Plans project #Girlsrighttoeducation is implemented in two of the villages in Quang Tri, A Doi and Ba Tang.
The villages are situated in beautiful but harsh conditions in mountainous surroundings. The population consists mainly of the ethnic minorities Pa Co and Van Kieu. In the villages the school and sanitation infrastructure does not cover the need. There is limited access to clean water and a shortage of learning material, which is why these sites where chosen for the project.
Many girls are forced to drop out of school at an early age to help out with the family economy. They are either put to work, have to take care of their siblings or are married off at an early age. Due to economic, cultural and social reasons, there is a general lack of understanding and knowledge of the importance of a girl’s education.
Together with Plan we intend to help improve primary schools in Ba Tang and A Doi Communes in Vietnam over the next 3 years. As a first step, we have built necessary classrooms, girl- and disability- friendly latrines and water wells. Moreover, we have filled the classrooms with the necessary learning material and are educating the teachers and the community in child rights, gender equality and girl’s participation in society. We are not just strengthening the schools, but we are also strengthening the girls’ situation. The goal is to make sure that these girls are lifted out of poverty. In the future, the villages are a better place for all the children to grow up in.
KEY PROJECT ISSUES THAT WILL BE ADDRESSED BY THE PROJECT ARE;
• Lack of classrooms, toilets and clean water.
Due to inadequate school infrastructure and sanitation, there is lack of classrooms, toilets and access to clean water. Both boys and girls are sharing the existing toilets. This offers no privacy for girls and often becomes a serious source of discomfort and harassment already at a young age.
• Children with disabilities are excluded from schools and community activities.
There are many reasons for the exclusion of children with disabilities, among them are poverty, inaccessibility and perhaps most important, because of attitudes and lack of knowledge on how to include children with disabilities in school.
• Early pregnancy & early marriage.
Due to lack of knowledge and skills of parents in girls’ education and adolescent health many girls (and in some cases boys also) stop schooling in order to get married at ages as low as 14 years old. The result of early marriage is often unwanted pregnancy.
• Girls are deprived of a quality education
Girls are often taken out of school to work, to help with house chores or to look after younger siblings. In order to address these problems Plan has established Girls support clubs, Scholarships for poor and disadvantaged school girls, and are building preschools so that even the most marginalized children are included.