The educational experiences of rural Thai ethnic students in Vietnam: Four case studies

Author: Van Pang Lo

Lo, Van Pang, 2017 The educational experiences of rural Thai ethnic students in Vietnam: Four case studies, Flinders University, School of Education

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This is a qualitative pilot study to explore the key influences shaping the schooling and education of Thai ethic students living in rural mountain villages in one of the poorest and least educated regions of Vietnam. The study uses a qualitative case study approach and data were collected using multiple semi-structured interviews with four senior secondary students, their parents and their teachers. Two of these students were males and two were female, and two were achieving high grades while the others were receiving low grades.

During the interviews, data were collected on the influence of families, Thai culture and identity, the school, school policies, teaching practices, school resources, the physical environment, weather, and school relationships, on student learning and well-being. In relation to school relationships information was collected on teacher-student, student-peer and school-parent relationships. This study takes a socio-ecological approach.

The researcher has a Thai identity and background, was educated in rural remote schools in Vietnam, and speaks fluent Thai and Vietnamese. This enabled him to give participants the choice as to whether interviews were conducted in Thai or Vietnamese, and his background and experiences gave him an understanding of Thai culture as an insider.

In analysing data collected, 15 key influences were identified as shaping the schooling and education of the four study participants. These influences were: economic hardship, social isolation and remoteness, work on the family farm and at home, parent support, the national curriculum, support for learning Vietnamese as a second language, teaching practices, learning support at school, academic achievement, recognition of cultural identities and differences, social marginalisation, interpersonal relationships, student coping strategies, school facilities and resources, and teacher training and professional development. These influences were recognised as interconnected.

Based on the study findings, recommendations were developed to improve the learning, schooling experiences, and academic achievement of Thai ethnic students attending rural schools in Vietnam. These recommendations hopefully could help reduce the educational inequalities not only of Thai ethnic students but of other ethnic minorities as well.

Further research is recommended into the schooling and education of ethnic minorities in Vietnam. A framework is proposed based on this study's findings to assist future researchers.

Keywords: educational experiences, rural Thai, ethnic students, Vietnam

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2017
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Dr Neil Welch