The Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region and the Government’s Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs held a workshop in Can Tho city on June 28 to review and set plans for Khmer-related works in the southern region until 2020. The event was attended by officials of the boards of ethnic minority affairs in Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, An Giang and Kien Giang provinces, Can Tho city and Ho Chi Minh City.
Huynh Thi Somaly, an official from the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee said there are about 1.3 million Khmer people in the south, accounting for 7 percent of the region’s population.
The Party and State have issued several policies supporting the development of the ethnic group. They include Directive 68-CT/TW on works in Khmer ethnic areas issued by the Party Central Committee Secretariat in 1991, which resulted in improvements in local economic, social, security and defence issues, she noted.
However, she also admitted shortcomings such as unsustainable poverty reduction, poor cultural and communication activities in the Khmer language and difficulties in vocational training and job provision.
At the workshop, officials said Khmer-related works should focus on solutions to develop socio-economic infrastructure, improve both material and spiritual life of Khmer people and raise the quality of cultural, educational and medical activities. They need to sustainably eliminate poverty so as to reduce the Khmer household poverty rate in the south by between 50 – 70 percent by 2020.
They said authorities in the southern region should promote teaching and learning quality, provide incentives for Khmer students and teachers in Khmer communities and reduce or exempt tuition fees. They also need to maintain teaching of the Khmer language at schools in areas with large Khmer populations.
Vocational schools should be built across southern localities while local residents should be given financial support to enroll in vocational training.
Provinces and cities need to raise the number and quality of Khmer-language media outlets, facilitate mass cultural and sports activities in the ethnic group and protect traditional cultural values and craft villages, participants said.
Medical services and health-related communications should be expanded in Khmer communities, they noted, underlining the necessity to maintain traditional religions, restore Khmer Buddhist pagodas, visit religious dignitaries during traditional festivals and help Khmer monks study in Vietnam and overseas.