According to Phuc Huynh, in Vietnam’s rural areas less than 14% of children complete upper secondary school. And rural Vietnam still makes up the majority of the country. Phuc should know, he’s the founder and chief executive officer of Teach For Vietnam.
Phuc benefitted from overseas study as a young man, receiving an international merit fellowship to finish his Master degree in Public Policy from Harvard University in 2015. The opportunity inspired him to focus his energy on improving Vietnam through education, motivated by a dream to channel talents from all backgrounds towards creating a strong pipeline for future leaders in general education.
“In Vietnam, general education, albeit providing high return on investment, currently receives much less effort from the government and the public than higher education sector.” Phuc said. What effort and commitment is made is invariably channeled towards schools in the city, with rural schools frequently being neglected, under resourced and under-funded.
In early October 2015, Phuc came across Teach For All, a global network of 45 independent, locally-led and governed partner organisations that work to accelerate the progress of educational development in areas where it is typically neglected. Each partner network recruits and develops promising future leaders to take roles as teachers in their nation’s high-needs schools and communities.
Phuc joined the network, founding Teach For Vietnam as a non-profit organisation dedicated to the education, search and development of talented young graduates to build a strong educational and learning environment for the children of Vietnam. Through this, Phuc and others will lay the foundation both inside and outside of education to ensure that children are able to fulfill their potential.
To achieve this goal, Teach For Vietnam recruits the country’s most promising young graduates, many of whom have benefitted from overseas study opportunities like Phuc. Referred to as Fellows, they commit to a minimum of two years teaching in high-needs schools, working primarily as English teachers, helping to develop language, soft skills and growth-mindset of their students, as well as local teachers and principles.
Taking on varied roles during their commitment, Fellows act as teachers, school managers and policy makers helping to change the lives of thousands of students and improve the quality of education in Vietnam. In turn, their two year programme enables them to master leadership, problem-solving and people management skills which are transferable to other sectors once they move on with their careers.
Through initiatives like this, Teach For Vietnam is recruiting and developing leaders from diverse backgrounds to build an ecosystem supporting education.They have two cohorts already with the first starting in four districts near the center of Tay Ninh. The second and current cohort has 22 fellows teaching at primary and secondary schools near the Cambodian border this academic school year. Their goal, by 2050, is for all children in Vietnam to have attained an excellent education.