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CJ backs education for ethnic minority girls

The Saigon Times

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For the diversified CJ Group, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of its business strategy, and among its CSR activities, education takes center stage under the motto “Do not let poverty hinder education”.

In that spirit, CJ Group and partners on March 28, 2023 kickstarted the second phase of the project “We are ABLE”, having gained strong success in the first phase of the project that aims to provide education support for ethnic minority girls on poverty-stricken areas.

Education for ethnic minority students

Needless to say, ethnic minority children face greater challenges in accessing education, all the more so for ethnic minority girls. A recent study shows that while up to 88.5% of children across the country in the age group of five to 14 attended school in the 2011-2019 period, that rate among ethnic minorities was far lower, at only 56.2%. In the H’mong ethnic group, up to 23.02% of children aged between five and 17 have never attended school, according to the study.

Such findings on ethnic minority children’s education are the reason behind CJ Group’s decision to launch the “We are ABLE” project as “we ceaselessly accompany and support ethnic minority girls in pursuing their dreams,… and to ensure equality for these children,” said Min Hee-kyung, who is responsible for CJ Group’s CSR programs.

The second phase of the “We are ABLE” project is jointly organized by CJ Group, UNESCO Vietnam, the Ministry of Education and Training, and relevant localities, with the South Korean group being the financial supporter.

The project’s second phase will be executed in Cao Bang, Kon Tum and Ninh Thuan provinces, which are home to a high proportion of ethnic minority groups.

The project is expected to contribute to Vietnam’s Education Development Strategy for the 2021-2030 period and the country’s commitment to achieving sustainable development goals, especially Goal No. 4 on education and Goal No. 5 on gender equality, said Christian Manhart, chief representative of UNESCO Vietnam, at the launch of the project’s second phase.

The second phase of the project is built upon the success of the first phase, which was implemented in 2019-2022 in Ha Giang, Ninh Thuan and Soc Trang provinces. In the first phase, jointly executed by UNESCO Vietnam, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the Central Committee for Ethnicity, the project worth US$500,000 was successful in helping ethnic minority children continue their education.

According to CJ Group, the project approached around 42,000 ethnic minority girls. At 24 participating elementary schools, the proportion of ethnic minority children attending school rose from 62% to 67%, while the proportion of school dropouts fell from 3.8% to 2.9%, and that of ethnic minority children continuing their study in junior high schools rose from 69.7% to 76.7%.

The project has helped improve the education environment, including school facilities and increase the proportion of school attendance among ethnic minority children, especially girls, said Min Hee-kyung at the conclusion of the project’s first phase.

Importantly, the project has also managed to change awareness among parents and the community on the role of education, gender equality, and domestic violence.

Vu Minh Duc, an official with the Ministry of Education and Training, highly valued the project’s positive impact, and said “the Ministry of Education and Training will consider the project as the training model for schools across the country.”

Scholarships and other CSR activities

Apart from the project to support education for ethnic minority students as CJ Group’s focal CSR program, the group has also attended to numerous other CSR activities for the community.

Last December, the group organized a function in Lam Dong Province’s Dalat City to award 100 scholarships and gifts worth VND510 million to outstanding students with difficult family backgrounds, which was the tenth consecutive year the group had donated scholarships to students in this Central Highlands province.

Since 2013, CJ Group has awarded over 1,000 scholarships to students, from elementary to higher education levels, affirming the group’s sustained commitment to supporting education. CJ Group also pledged to continue this scholarship programs in the many years to come, and would be ready to recruit these students after their graduation in the future.

Chang Bok Sang, president of CJ Vietnam, said that the group has always been persistent in its CSR activities in many fields, from education to culture and agriculture.

The group has financially supported several film festivals in Vietnam, launched the TOTO project to support young talented filmmakers, organized bakery workshops in Nghe An for locals, and supported farmers in a pepper growing project in Ninh Thuan Province.

Since its representative office in HCMC was founded in 1998, CJ Group has expanded its business to multiple fields from food, food material, cake, coffee, logistics, animal feed, and livestock to cinema and movies. As of now, CJ Group had invested some US$1 billion in the Vietnamese market.

In this journey having spanned 25 years, CJ Group has enthusiastically supported the community through various CSR projects and activities since “contributing to the society is the way CJ Group pays its tribute to the Vietnamese community who have high confidence in our brands,” said Chang Bok Sang, president of CJ Vietnam.

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