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A Fellow’s Success Story – Ms Lien Anh Tong: Promoting a reading culture in Viet Nam to advance lifelong learning

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More than 8,000 community learning centres (CLCs) across Viet Nam have reading corners as a result of a national strategy to promote a reading culture in the country. The strategy was developed by Ms Lien Anh Tong, a specialist in the Ministry of Education and Training’s Continuing Education Department, during a UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) CONFINTEA fellowship in 2016.

Over the past three years, the ministry has encouraged local governments to carry out activities that foster lifelong learning and reading in libraries, museums, cultural centres and clubs. It has also issued official dispatches to guide the organization of lifelong learning weeks that focus on books and reading in order to promote a reading culture in schools and communities. Television programmes on the development of a reading culture have been broadcast, 30,000 bookcases have been installed in primary and secondary school classrooms, and there have been 200 new articles published on the subject, as part of the ‘Books for Rural Areas of Viet Nam’ programme.

Developed by the ministry with the involvement of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, key elements of the strategy have been adopted in the ‘Developing a reading culture in the Community until 2020’ Orientation 2030 strategy, approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc in 2017. The next step is to integrate the strategy into the National Plan to Develop Lifelong Learning in Viet Nam (2021–2030), Vision 2045.

Promoting a culture of reading through quality literate environments is a key component within the country’s lifelong learning approach. Ms Tong reflects: ‘The reading culture in Viet Nam is still a big problem. During the CONFINTEA fellowship programme, I developed the strategy to address this gap, which included components such as policy advocacy, public awareness-raising through media, promotion of reading for adults through CLCs’ reading corners, and support to civil groups in implementing their reading promotion initiatives. I received great support from UIL staff to finish the proposed strategy during my stay at Hamburg. However, what I like the most is their follow-up support after the programme has finished.”

Although the number of reading corners at CLCs has significantly increased, much work remains to be done in strengthening reading cultures in Viet Nam. For example, selected reading corners could be improved by offering a larger variety of reading material, attracting a wider range of learners and thus sustaining their reading interest over time. UIL continues to support national efforts in promoting lifelong learning through enriching the literate environment, including support in developing an overall lifelong learning framework.

From 2011 to 2017, UIL welcomed 38 fellows (19 men and 19 women, 31 of whom were government officials and 7 NGO representatives) from 32 countries. The last cycle was organized in November 2017.

Watch our CONFINTEA fellowship video

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