Unless you live in Vietnam, very few people know what Vietnam government, officials and general Vietnamese people really thinks of the Khmer Krom people.
One thing is for sure, its not flattering at the very least.
“Backwards”, “lazy” and “stupid” are some of the well known phrases used to describe the indigenous peoples.
If one takes a closer look at Vietnam’s range of propaganda media, one could see how much contempt Vietnam has towards Khmer Krom.
A prime example is a recent article by the VietnamNet Bridge, titled, “SOS: pupils dropping like flies in Cuu Long River Delta” which states that Khmer Krom students were dropping out of school like flies (http://english.vietnamnet.vn/education/2008/03/773791/).
According to the Tra Vinh Education and Training Department, 6,000 pupils at state run schools had dropped out by the end of January 2008 because they were unable to cope with studying.
Huynh Van Hoan, Headmaster of Tap Son School, said from the article said, “30% gave up school because of their inability to learn.”
Such statement suggests that Khmer Krom students could not cope with studying itself, therefore validating their narrow-mindedness belief that Khmer Krom people are dumb and stupid.
Even if Vietnamese authorities did provided extra funding to the students, they still do not come back.
Did it ever cross Vietnam’s mind that perhaps their so called educational system is FAILING?
That their public education systems are so unfriendly and “anti-Khmer” that Khmer students do not see the point of attending?
That even if they do attend, the Vietnamese society is insensitive to the Khmer that they could not get a job anyway because of its discriminatory attitude towards them?
Vietnam government expects the Khmer Krom to forget its cultural identity and language and incorporate into mainstream society.
Why? Because they believe that they are the superior race? That everyone has to learn Vietnamese and act like one. And that is the end of the story?
That Khmer Krom people are just uncivilised, backwards and stupid?
That it’s their rich and vibrant culture that is making them poor and unsuccessful in life?
If Vietnam people were under the authority of the Khmer people, how would they feel if everything come to believe as their unique identity and culture was stripped away and they were forced to do everything in Khmer?
Would they cope that well? Or will they be dropping off like flies also because it did not have the ability to learn?
If Vietnam knows that Khmer students are having difficulties studying in a public school, why isn’t Vietnam having these classes in the Khmer languages so that could understand the same type of concept?
Surely basic maths and chemistry could be taught in Khmer?
It isn’t their inability that is making these students drop out but it is the FAILURE of the Vietnam government to put forward an educational system that works not only for their ethnic people but for the indigenous Khmer Krom people.
Likewise, if the other 70% of Khmer Krom students are dropping out of school because of financial difficulties why aren’t more generous scholarships being offer to the students?
If Vietnam is really committed to providing an equal and unbiased education to Khmer Krom students, perhaps it should stop portraying negative and prejudiced mentality and attitude towards the Khmer Krom.
It must seriously start identifying why their education system does not work for the Khmer Krom.
If Vietnam does not take immediate steps to rectify its failing educational system, then the Khmer Krom young children and youths are in dire trouble.
Each day, hundreds and thousands of Khmer Krom children continue to miss out on essential basic education because they are Khmer and could not speak Vietnamese properly.
Is having a so called “inability to learn” the only reason to why Khmer Krom students are missing out again?
And is it fair for Vietnam to continue using that as an excuse to further valid racist views on the Khmer Krom people?
Image below: A Khmer Krom girl hunts rubbish dump to help earning a living for her mother and misses out on education (Source: Eliminated without Bleeding film by Rebecca Sommers)