Towards a lifelong learning society through reading promotion: Opportunities and challenges for libraries and community learning centres in Viet Nam

Abstract

The government of Viet Nam has made a commitment to build a Lifelong Learning Society by 2020. A range of related initiatives have been launched, including the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Centre for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELLL) and “Book Day” – a day aimed at encouraging reading and raising awareness of its importance for the development of knowledge and skills. Viet Nam also aims to implement lifelong learning (LLL) activities in libraries, museums, cultural centres and clubs. The government of Viet Nam currently operates more than 11,900 Community Learning Centres (CLCs) and is in the process of both renovating and innovating public libraries and museums throughout the country. In addition to the work undertaken by the Viet Nam government, a number of enterprises have been initiated by non-governmental organisations and non-profit organisations to promote literacy and lifelong learning. This paper investigates some government initiatives focused on libraries and CLCs and their impact on reading promotion. Proposing a way forward, the paper confirms that Viet Nam’s libraries and CLCs play an essential role in promoting reading and building a LLL Society.

Résumé

Vers une société d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie par la promotion de la lecture : opportunités et défis pour les bibliothèques et centres d’apprentissage communautaire du Viet Nam – Le Gouvernement du Viet Nam s’est engagé à édifier d’ici 2020 une Société d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie. Une série d’initiatives afférentes a été lancée, dont le Centre d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie de l’Organisation des ministres de l’éducation d’Asie du Sud-Est (SEAMEO CELLL), et une Journée du livre dans le but de stimuler la lecture et de sensibiliser à son importance pour le développement des connaissances et compétences. Le Viet Nam programme en outre des activités d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie dans les bibliothèques, musées, centres culturels et clubs. Le gouvernement gère actuellement plus de 11900 centres d’apprentissage communautaire, et a entamé un projet rénovateur et innovant pour les bibliothèques et musées publics du pays. Parallèlement à cette action gouvernementale, plusieurs entreprises ont été initiées par des organisations non gouvernementales ou à but non lucratif à promouvoir l’alphabétisation et l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie. L’auteur de l’article examine plusieurs initiatives du gouvernement destinées aux bibliothèques et centres d’apprentissage communautaire ainsi que leur impact sur la promotion de la lecture. Dans sa proposition d’une voie à suivre à l’avenir, l’auteur confirme que ces institutions occupent au Viet Nam une place prépondérante dans la promotion de la lecture et la création d’une société d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Community Learning Centres (CLCs) are recognised grassroots institutions whose aim is to facilitate the building of a lifelong learning society in accordance with Decisions 89 and 281 of the Vietnamese Prime Minister (MoET 2009). CLCs have been established in more than 20 Asian countries with assistance from UNESCO. They fulfil many functions, depending on the specific needs of the community (Domingo 2005). In Viet Nam, CLCs provide programmes on literacy, post-literacy and life skills such as income generation, healthcare and family planning. They also provide agricultural training and offer cultural and sporting activities. They instigate reading corners in libraries and provide a space for a variety of community activities and meetings.

    In recognition of the increasing importance of LLL for individual, community and country development, the Vietnamese Government decided in 1997 to develop broad-based Adult Learning Education (ALE) and Non-Formal Education (NFE) (MoET 2009). Since 1999, infrastructure for CLCs has been rapidly expanded in provinces, cities, communes, wards and towns across the country in order to provide LLL opportunities for all citizens. In 2001 there were 155 CLCs; by 2007–2008 there were 9,010, or about 70 times as many (MoET 2009), and by 2014–2015 there were approximately 11,000 (VALP 2015). In 2008, 81.93% of communes in the country had their own CLCs; this figure grew to 99.78% in 2015 (ibid.).

  2. 2.

    Viet Nam has more than 23,000 state-funded libraries with over 25,000 staff (NLV 2008). There are five major library systems in Viet Nam: (1) the Public Library System; (2) the Academic Library System; (3) the School Library System; (4) the Special Library System; and (5) the Military Library System. A range of institutions are involved in developing library and information services throughout the country, including the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST), the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), People’s Committees at all levels, the Education Publishing House (EPH), Publishing Directorate, Vietnam Publishers’ Association, Vietnam Library Association, and others. The Public Library System is headed by the National Library of Vietnam (NLV), which consists of 64 City and Provincial libraries, 626 District libraries, 2016 Commune/Precinct/Town libraries, 9,828 Reading Rooms in villages/hamlets and 46 Private libraries (Uc 2012, Dung 2014). In addition, there are approximately 8,000 Cultural Communal Post Offices (CPOs) under the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, offering more than 10,000 bookshelves of legal documents (Thomas 2009). The number of public libraries and their collections are shown in Table 2.

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Correspondence to Zakir Hossain.

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Hossain, Z. Towards a lifelong learning society through reading promotion: Opportunities and challenges for libraries and community learning centres in Viet Nam. Int Rev Educ 62, 205–219 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-016-9552-y

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Keywords

  • Learning society
  • Lifelong learning
  • Library
  • Reading and literacy promotion
  • Community learning centres
  • Viet Nam