OverviewIn 2019, VinaCapital Foundation, in cooperation with Vu A Dinh Scholarship Fund, led by Madam Truong My Hoa, Former Vice President of Vietnam, initiated Brighter Path Girls’ Clubs to empower the victims of paternalistic cultures to overcome individual and collective barriers, promote gender equality, transform them to become agents of changes in their rural communities.
In Vietnam, ethnic minority girls and women are one of the most vulnerable groups due to discrimination on the basis of gender and ethnicity. For generations, ethnic minority girls and women have been repressed by social prejudices and outdated customs which are the main drivers of child marriage, gender-based violence, trafficking and inequality. Child marriage, one of the worst problems that ethnic minority girls endure, not only affects their healthy futures, but also violates children’s rights, obstructs the entire community’s socio-economic development, hinders national development and poverty reduction efforts.
The Brighter Path Girls Clubs (BPGC) is an ‘after school’ DOET/Youth Union-sponsored club for ‘girls only’ teaching sexual and reproductive health, financial literacy, leadership skills and legal rights. BPGC prepares the girls to succeed personally and publically and has created the platform and motivation to spread the word to others – male and female. These girls become the agents of change to transform ethnic minority culture and one school creates at least 40 more ‘change agents’ every year.
VCF has invested in the infrastructure necessary to implement the BPGC program nationwide. Currently, the online platform for the education content is complete and will be used this fall in 11 new school implementations in Tra Vinh and Thai Nguyen. The 2 initial pilot schools in Thai Nguyen which are now self-sustaining as well as the 2 Quang Nam implementations will be ‘person to person’ with no need for the education platform. After the first year, the clubs are in self-sustainability mode.
The implementing partners are the provincial Department of Education and Training and the Youth Union. The course content partners for our intellectual property are 2 well-known Vietnamese NGOs – Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) for educational material on sexual and reproduction health, legal rights and leadership. The Center for Consultancy on Family Health and Community Development (CFC) provides financial literacy material. All participating schools using the education platform will receive the gift of a $7,500 multi-media room from VCF with the only stipulation being that the BPGC partners be able to use the room to teach the ethnic girls the 4 core subjects.
The pilot of 2 clubs in Thai Nguyen province in 2020- 2021 proved the concept; the girls entered the club with very little, or no, knowledge of the 4 core education elements above and left the club a semester later as self-confident, ‘strength in numbers’ savvy, knowledgeable girls who are empowered and motivated to be community ‘agents of change.’ The girls are encouraged to work together for positive behavioral change in their communities starting with their schoolmates, boyfriends, families and girlfriends many of whom are already victims- ultimately their entire community.
- 880 ethnic minority female students participated in Brighter Path Girls’ Clubs in Thai Nguyen, Quang Nam, and Tra Vinh province.
- 22 multimedia rooms are equipped for Brighter Path Girl’s Clubs.
- 22 ethnic high schools in Thai Nguyen, Tra Vinh and Quang Nam province take part in the program.
- 2871 disadvantaged ethnic minority high school female students benefiting from the expansion.
How does the program operate?
Since its formation, the school will appoint the Brighter Path Girls’ Club committee which consists of active and outstanding students. This Club committee is trained by experts on the designed topics, monitoring and report, and usage of the BPGC online learning platform.
Then, the committee will host an event at the school assembly to introduce and promote BPGC to schoolwide students to recruit members for the club. After selecting members, the club will have 16 weekly sessions to deliver knowledge and skills for members in the 4 core pillars and organize educational seminars to share critical knowledge gaps with their peers.
Before and after each BPGC, surveys are conducted to evaluate individual progress and perceptions of members. The program also collects and analyzes feedback from assigned teachers/ Youth Union officers as well as members to further revise and improve the BPGC curriculum and activities.
The blooming journey of a Village Flower named Quynh
As one of the 60 girls that were selected for our Brighter Path Girls’ Club pilot in Thai Nguyen from September to December 2020, Quynh quickly learned what it meant to be surrounded and loved by her new Girls’ Club friends and mentors.