According to the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities, inclusive education is an educational approach that accommodates persons with disabilities to study with persons without disabilities in education establishments. As specified in Article 28, inclusive education is the main approach taken for education of persons with disabilities, while integrated and special education provisions are applied only when the conditions for inclusive education have not been met.
Special education needs
The 2005 Education Law provides an operational definition, listing specific groups of learners who might be allowed to start schooling at a higher age due to their specific needs. It includes pupils living in disadvantaged socio-economic regions, pupils belonging to ethnic minorities, ‘disabled and handicapped’ children, learners with physical and intellectual disadvantages, orphans, children from poor households, students returning from overseas, children leaping grades and pupils repeating classes (Art. 26.3).
Education for persons with disabilities takes three main forms:
- Special education: Persons with disabilities are educated in schools or education establishments organized separately.
- Semi-inclusive or integrated education: Persons with disabilities are enrolled in special classes in ordinary schools or educational establishments. The curriculum may be modified according to an individualized education plan.
- Inclusive education: Children with special needs are educated in regular schools if they can meet the requirements of general education.
The 2005 Education Law defines three types of special schools:
- Boarding and semi-boarding general education schools and pre-university schools for ethnic minority children and/or for children of long-term resident families in areas with extreme socioeconomic difficulties (Art. 61)
- Specialized schools for gifted and talented children at upper secondary level (Art. 62)
- Specialized schools for ‘disabled and handicapped people’ (Art. 63).
With the adoption of the interministerial Circular 58/2012, specialized schools are expected to be replaced by support centres to advocate and promote inclusion. However, they have not been established in all provinces.
In 2019, 107 specialized education facilities and 12 education centres for persons with disabilities were active throughout the country, while inclusive education development support centres were active in 20 provinces and cities.
Early identification, screening and assessment
In compliance with the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities, the interministerial Circulars 37 and 34 regulate the role of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Both ministries are involved in disability identification and in issuing a disability certificate. The assessment is carried out by the Medical Appraisal Council under the Ministry of Health or by the Council for the Identification of the Disability Level or Commune Council.
Early detection and early intervention occur within community-based rehabilitation programmes. School administrative staff and teachers have been trained to use a screening toolkit for those purposes. Assessment toolkits have been developed according to the type of disability.
According to Decision No. 23/2006, inclusive education support and development centres are charged with carrying out early identification in order to provide counselling on appropriate education approaches and provision.
The 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Viet Nam mandates the state to take care of preschool education provision and to ensure compulsory free secondary education (Art. 61). The overarching 2005 Education Law lays down the right and obligation of every citizen to education, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, gender, family background, social status or economic conditions (Art. 10). In order to ensure social equity in education, the state enables everyone to have equal rights of access to learning opportunities, giving priority to children of ethnic minorities, children from socio-economically disadvantaged areas, ‘disabled and handicapped people’ and beneficiaries of social protection assistance. Helping the poor access education and gifted children to develop their talents is also identified as a prerogative of the state and the community.
At the regional level, Viet Nam is committed to the non-legally binding Biwako Millennium Framework for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific for the period of 2003–12. It also signed the 2013–22 Ministerial Declaration on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities and the Incheon Strategy to ‘Make the Right Real’ for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.
At the national level, the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities is the main legislative instrument regulating rights and services for persons with disabilities and their families. The law contains provisions for the promotion of education, affirming the right for people with disabilities to learn and develop their abilities and to receive support, care and special education for rehabilitation, capacity development and social inclusion. The 2016 Children Law reaffirms that all children, with or without disabilities, have an equal right to education and to comprehensively develop their potentials.
In education, the 2005 Education Law affirms the rights for ‘disabled and handicapped people’ to receive education and vocational training, and to be restored in their functions and integrated in communities, through education institutions established by the state or by individuals or organizations. The state in turn is called to give priority to these specialized schools in terms of teacher allocation, infrastructure, equipment and budget (Art. 63). The 2014 Law on Vocational Education encourages the enrolment of ‘disabled’ persons in vocational training institutions and the establishment of vocational training institutions reserved for such persons (Art. 27.1).
In terms of policies, with the Decision No. 23/2006, the Ministry of Education and Training specifically regulates education provision for ‘disabled and handicapped people’, affirming their right to education on an equal basis with their peers through inclusive education. The decision establishes that schools hold the responsibility for the admission of people with disabilities and for the promotion of inclusive education through their arrangement into appropriate classes, the provision of appropriate advice and support, and the identification of their needs (Art. 9.1). In addition to the duties of the school, inclusive education development centres, when authorized by the Provincial People's Committee, can be established to advise education institutions about teaching methods and technical support (Art. 9.2).
To implement the Decision No. 23/2006, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Finance adopted two interministerial circulars. Circular 42/2013, effective since 2014, regulates admission, fee exemptions and reduction, and fund allocation to inclusive schools, while Circular 58/2012 regulates the transition to inclusive education provision by establishing an inclusive education resource centre for persons with disabilities.
The 2012–20 National Action Plan to Support People with Disabilities intended to increase the provision of both vocational training and general education for persons with disabilities through accessible public buildings and transportation service, a strengthened early intervention mechanism and inclusive education provision.
In line with the 2006 Law on Gender Equality, the 2001–20 National Strategy on Gender Equality aims to raise gender awareness and emphasizes the importance of incorporating gender equality content in the curricula of the national education system and of including gender matters in policies, programmes and plans within the education sector. It encourages the promotion of scholarships for girls and women, especially those from rural and ethnic minority areas, and it calls for policies to incentivize preschool education in remote and disadvantaged regions and to attract male preschool and primary school teachers.
In the education sector, the 2003–15 National Education for All Action Plan set among its priorities the elimination of gender inequality in primary and secondary schools and the achievement of gender equality in education by 2015.
Ethnic and linguistic groups and indigenous groups
The 2013 Constitution lays down the right of every nationality to use its own language and system of writing to preserve identity and promote national traditions and culture. It further mandates the state to create favourable conditions for the promotion of national minorities’ abilities (Art. 5). Aligned with the Constitution’s provisions, the 2005 Education Law enshrines ethnic groups’ right to learn their spoken and written languages in order to preserve and develop their ethnic cultural identity (Art. 7). With this goal, boarding or semi-boarding general education schools and pre-university schools have been established (Art. 61). The right to use the language and to preserve identity and cultural customs and traditions was reaffirmed in the 2016 Law on Children.
The 2011–20 education development strategy recognizes that lifelong learning of ethnic minorities, the poor and policy beneficiary families’ children contributes to building a knowledge-based society and creating equal opportunities for everyone. The government has undertaken specific actions in this direction, such as a project on the preservation and development of Vietnamese ethnic minorities’ culture up the year 2020 (Decision No. 1270/2011/QD-TTg) and a project on supporting policies for semi-boarding pupils and boarding schools for ethnic minorities (Decision No. 85/2010/QD). In 2017, the government defined the preferential policies and supports for children in kindergartens, students and students of ethnic minorities (Decree No. 57/2017/ND-CP).
In terms of quality of Vietnamese language teaching and learning in primary schools, the Ministry of Education and Training has rolled out specific activities at provincial levels, including piloting action research on mother tongue-based bilingual education for students from three ethnic groups and the Friendship Primary Education Project.
The 2005 Education Law mandates the state to provide subsidies and tuition reduction and exemption to learners belonging to socially protected categories, such as those belonging to ethnic groups, those living in extreme socio-economic difficulties and homeless orphans (Art. 89). Decree No. 49/2010/ND-CP implements this provision, while Decision No. 12/2013/QD-TTg sets out the policy on support to high school students in difficult socio-economic regions. Decision No. 36/2013/QD-TTg on rice provision in schools for pupils living in difficult socio-economic areas is another example of an inclusive education measure.
Coordination across sectors
The Ministry of Education and Training is responsible for education provision to persons with disabilities and for planning regarding the special education system and the system of inclusive education support and development centres. It leads and coordinates, with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health, the implementation of special education programmes.
The National Committee of Coordination on Disability is in charge of the implementation of the 2010 Law on Persons with Disabilities, with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs taking a leading role. The latter, together with the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance, is involved in implementing policies for the identification and protection of children with disabilities at the national level.
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs plays a major role in planning, setting policies and developing standards for vocational education and training through the General Department of Vocational Training.
UNICEF supports and encourages cross-sectoral coordination between the Ministry of Education and Training and other line ministries through a participatory consultative process, also involving representation of persons with disabilities. The work informs interministerial circulars to strengthen guidance for local authorities and practitioners at the implementation level. In 2017, key national actors and UNICEF jointly developed the first national Integrated Early Childhood Development policy for children from 0 to 8 years of age.
Coordination across government levels
The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance work closely with provincial, district and commune authorities to promote the implementation of education policies.
The 2002 Barrier-free Access Code and Standards established national accessibility standards for construction. The construction of student dormitories and public facilities for teachers has been the object of recent investment priorities.
In general, the national curriculum has been revised according to a competency-based model. Gender equality has been mainstreamed in the curriculum and in the content of extracurricular activities, including life skills education, child rights education and education on HIV/AIDS.
The general curriculum for primary education offers the option to use teaching and learning materials in local ethnic languages for learners belonging to ethnic groups. However, Vietnamese remains the language of instruction at the lower secondary level.
Decision No. 404/2015/QD-TTg implements a project on the renewal of general education programmes and textbook support. In compliance with Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW on the promotion of women in the period of industrialization and modernization, the Institute of Education Science has the task of reviewing textbooks and training materials and removing gender-biased content.
Decision No. 9/2007 establishes the need for teacher and education management to be trained on inclusive education. Pre-service teacher training modules on inclusive education for children with disabilities have been developed at provincial level, in training institutions in Ninh Thuan and Kon Tum provinces.
At the national level, pedagogy colleges, such as the Hanoi Pedagogy University, the Ho Chi Minh City Pedagogy University, the National Pedagogy College and the National Pedagogy College Ho Chi Minh City, provide formal training on special education. The trainings are also open to education managers. An optional module on sign language has been incorporated in these programmes at undergraduate level and during short-term non-formal trainings.
Both at university and in colleges, gender equality content has been included in teacher training programmes.
Concerning training on assessment, the Ministry of Education and Training is supported by UNICEF in developing screening tools for early education interventions of children with disabilities.
In terms of incentives, the 2005 Education Law states that teachers and education administrators working in specialized schools, schools for gifted students, boarding general or semi-boarding general education institutions for ethnic minorities, pre-university schools, schools for ‘disabled and handicapped people’, re-education schools and other special schools are entitled to allowances and other preferential rewards (Art. 82). It also contains a provision for the establishment of a rotating system for teacher and education personnel working in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.
Viet Nam does not publish regular education monitoring reports. One was prepared in 2015 by the Ministry of Education and Training in the wake of the Incheon Declaration to report on progress on Education for All.
Provincial departments of the Ministry of Education and Training coordinate with relevant local agencies to collect and review data on the number of children with different types of disabilities in order to identify the learning needs of these children.