19 November 2004 (Fri), GRIPS, Tokyo 16:00-18:00
"Street Children in Vietnam:
Interactions of Old and New Causes in a Growing Economy"
"Street Children in Vietnam:
Following her presentation at the Vietnamese Students’ Scientific Meeting in Osaka (Nov. 13) and at the Asian Development Youth Forum (ADYF), Tokyo University (Nov.17), Ms Hong made her presentation at the VDF Tokyo’s workshop on Nov.19.
The workshop was opened by Mr. Long’s brief introduction of the VDF’s recent activities and its overall targets.
Ms Hong then began by reviewing different definitions and concepts related to “street children” by Vietnam’s MOLISA, UNICEF and Terre des Homes Foundation. Types of street children were clarified by their actual survival means and conditions.
An overview of the nation-wide situation was then provided. The research focused on three major facts: trends in number of street children; where they were from; and what they did. More detailed investigations were done with the cases of Hochiminh City and Hanoi, as they are the biggest cities in Vietnam. Data shown that number of street children kept increasing year by year. A noteworthy fact was that there has been a significant flow of street children from the North to the South, but the flow from the South to the North almost has not existed.
The causes of being a street child, both old and new, were then investigated. According to the authors, one may classify three causes: broken family, mindset problem, and economic migration. The first category was considered as traditional while the last two were as new which had risen in the new economic context since Doimoi.
Based on the observations, the authors proposed a theoretical framework to describe and explain the correlation and dynamism between causes and situations. The framework allowed the authors to look deeper into the process of being street children as well as to propose their solutions for the issue. Two solutions were mentioned: improving current protection and providing effective future investment.
Final parts of the presentation summarized case studies of number of people who were used to be street children.
The presentation was closed by the remarks of the mentioned solutions and the call for analyses and policy implementations based on an effective classification of street children, which allowed us to have a closer look at the nature of the problem.
In the discussion session, a number of questions were raised. First, the audience was curious about the trends of the issue in the Pacific Asian Region. Second, what were the reasons explaining the flows of street children from the North to the South but not in the opposite. Two possible reasons were then provided: the South was favorable both in terms of climate and economic conditions (a simple cost-benefit analysis may be applicable).
Some participants wondered whether primary school’s teachers should be responsible for the problem. It was also suggested that further studies should compare the Vietnam’s situation with the cases of other developing countries such as Thailand. Finally, one participant shown her interest in the theoretical framework of the paper, and noted that the framework must carefully deal with the actual needs of each type of street children once they were grouped as the paper proposed, otherwise, one may overlook proper cures for them.
(by Nguyen Duc Thanh)