Bright Scholars in the City: a social mobility intervention for the children of the rural poor in Vietnam
This paper arises from the author's recent experience of completing an impact study of an international NGO's pro-poor social mobility program, based in Quảng Nam province and Đà Nẵng City in central Vietnam. The Bright Scholars program is aimed at improving the life chances of scholastically talented young people from socio-economically disadvantaged families by providing a small stipend to enable them to undertake tertiary study in the city. Virtually all of the eligible students come from rural or periurban backgrounds, meaning that winning a Bright scholarship is the start of a rural-urban migration journey over a modest spatial distance, but a significant sociocultural one.
By many measures the Bright Scholars program is spectacularly successful as an intervention in the life chances of the children of chronically poor farming families, and the paper will reflect on how certain characteristics of Vietnamese rural-urban migration networks might facilitate this success, among other things. Inevitably this NGO intervention also has its limitations, and we'll consider whether access to tertiary education alone is enough to give these young people equality within the opportunity structure of post-reform Vietnam relative to their privileged urban peers, asking what further interventions the NGO might make here.
Key concepts for this paper include social class as a geographical category, returns to education, social and cultural capital, and rural-urban networks as avenues for spatial and social mobility.
Dr Ashley Carruthers teaches in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, CASS, ANU. His recent research and consulting in Vietnam has been focused on rural people in and on the edge of the city in Vietnam, and how they deploy rural-urban networks as a means of livelihood and various forms of mobility.
This event is presented in person and online. Zoom details below
This series is an ANU-wide collaboration spearheaded by the Migration Hub @ ANU, in collaboration with the School of Archaeology and Anthropology
For online attendance, see Zoom details below
(Meeting ID: 865 5770 1787. Password: 836061)