Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 November 2015, 08:46 GMT

Despite economic growth Vietnam's minorities continue to be sidelined - UN expert

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 26 July 2010
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, Despite economic growth Vietnam's minorities continue to be sidelined - UN expert, 26 July 2010, available at: [accessed 26 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

"Persistent problems remain for many of those belonging to Vietnam's minority groups, despite a period of economic growth, progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals and positive results in poverty alleviation and economic development in general," the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, said at the conclusion of an official mission to the country.

In her statement the UN expert emphasized the key role that education could play in closing the poverty gap for minority communities and drew attention to the issue of bilingual education.

"Minorities lack adequate opportunities to be taught in their own minority languages from the earliest years of education and struggle with being taught only in Vietnamese", she added.

The majority of Vietnam's population are ethnic Viet or Kinh (65.8 million, or 86.2% out of a total population of 76.3 million), and speak the Vietnamese language. Ethnic Kinh tend to be concentrated in about half of the country's territory, especially in coastal and low-lying areas.

Many of the remaining 54 official ethnic groups (though not all of the country's minorities are part of this officially recognized list) inhabit the interior mountainous and highlands and represent a huge diversity in terms of languages, origins, religions and even scripts used. According to the 1999 Census highland minorities make up 13.8 per cent of the country's population, or 10.5 million people.

Other minorities, such as the Khmer Krom, Hoa and Lao, are concentrated in the cities or lowlands.

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