CEF's Ms Kim Chi writes about the challenge in getting parents to allow their daughters to have a tertiary education:
Education is very important but not many countryside parents really understand that; especially in the North of Viet Nam which is one of the areas in which CEF is working.
Most of the families in this area are Catholic and there is deep discrimination between boys and girls. It is quite hard for us to persuade the parents, particularly fathers, to let the girls go to university although they are very good students and capable of being easily accepted into university.
Because of their poverty and their large families, the girls have to stop school to work and help the family in order that the boys can continue going to school and get a tertiary education. It is extremely unfair on the girls.
I was really shocked when I saw that many girls there had to work in factories and were paid very low wages because they were uneducated. Other girls who have stopped school prematurely do farming and then also are under pressure to get married at a young age.
One of CEF's girls who is an excellent high school student and wants to be a doctor after university is still struggling to persuade her father to give his permission in order that she can get a tertiary education. Her father told her she should quit her education straight after graduating high school and work to support her parents and help her brothers go to school.
Her dream will be stopped if she isn't determined to work even harder in grade 12 and have excellent results in her final high school exams and university entrance exams.
Of course, CEF will help the girls who are wonderful students and have a passionate interest in receiving a tertiary education. These excellent students can be a shining example to others in their conservative communities if they can receive a tertiary education and receive good jobs and incomes after graduation. Hopefully these girls will help the parents believe in the power of education.