In order to better inform its Southeast Asia grantmaking, the McKnight Foundation required research and preparation of a paper on the changing microfinance environment in Cambodia and Vietnam. One of the Foundation’s themes in the region has been support for projects addressing poverty and the lack of economic and/or employment opportunities. McKnight has supported and continues to support several microfinance projects in Cambodia and Vietnam to address this issue but wanted to learn more about the changes taking place to determine how effective microfinance schemes have been in addressing poverty and the lack of economic opportunities, which approaches are most effective in the current environment, and what resources are necessary to support the field. In particular, McKnight wanted to know whether continued Foundation investments make sense, and if so, what was the best way to target the program’s modest resources for greatest impact.

This project consisted of a survey of microfinance in Vietnam as a follow-up to a similar UNDP survey in 1996. The need was not simply due to the time lapse, but also because larger multilateral donors were showing greater interest in funding microfinance activity. It was, therefore, a good time to survey the sector and identify strategic issues and “lessons learned” for their benefit. The results of the survey were presented to more than 100 representatives in Vietnam and overseas. The survey and report focused on rural microfinance schemes, particularly those aimed at improving the lives of the poor.

out of date as they have to strictly follow the curriculum frameworks provided by two ministries - the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). Second, there is typically no strong connection between vocational institutions and local enterprises. More specifically, skills and knowledge developed in the curricular framework do not always meet the demand of local and foreign enterprises. Third, there is a lack of legislation to require or encourage enterprises to employ graduates on probation.So the question being begged is: What can be done so that all vocational institutions under the STLM project can more systematically use innovative and market-responsive training programs to enable graduates, particularly from the most vulnerable populations, find jobs suitable for what they have been trained to do so that they can help their families break the grip of poverty? In order to answer this question, a comprehensive needs assessment should be done with local enterprise partners of 8 institutions under the STLM partners. This assessment will focus on identifying which skills local enterprises need graduates to have before they enter the local labor market.

The SEQAP aims at improving primary education quality in Vietnam, decreasing inequity in learning outcomes and increasing the completion of the cycle for primary education students, by supporting the government’s transition to full day schooling (FDS) overall and in particular for a selection of disadvantaged groups. The long term objective of the SEQAP is to create the foundations for the implementation of FDS in primary schools throughout Vietnam by 2020. The short-term objectives are to develop the policy framework for FDS, to pilot and apply FDS model in selected provinces, and to create favorable conditions for moving to FDS nationwide.

Beginning in 2008, the world experienced a severe economic downturn that has impacted multifarious sectors of many countries’ economies. While developed economies suffered from the impact of this crisis, trade was a relevant factor in transmitting the impacts of this crisis to the developing countries. In Vietnam, the importance of education and learning has been highly regarded and could be considered as one of the reasons for successful expansion of educational provisions over the last decade. This tradition seemed likely to continue despite some economic hardships; however, sudden and significant decrease in family income due to unemployment or revenue forces families to make difficult decisions, which may impact the education of their children. In particular, the impact of decreased income is severe on the poor and marginalized minorities.