Scholarship Program to Enhance Literacy and Learning
Huynh Dang Khanh, Chairman, Binh Dinh Study Promotion Association
When Mr. Huynh Dang Khanh retired in 2001 it was after a long and impressive career in Vietnam's education system. After earning a Chemistry degree from Binh Dinh University and a Ph.D. from Prague University in Czechoslovakia, he was appointed Vice Principal of Quy Nhon University in 1978 and then Director of the Binh Dinh Department of Education and Training in 1989. During his time in action, he proposed and got approval from the provincial authorities for the establishment of many schools in rual and remote areas.
A great lover of fish, birds, and small animals, Mr. Khanh might have devoted his retirement years to the Association for Ornamental Plants and Animals. But luckily for East Meets West, he got involved with SPELL and GPOBA Education, and the weasels and java mouse squirrels would have to wait.
In 2000, Mr. Khanh wrote a proposal to establish a Binh Dinh Study Promotion Association (SPA). After its approval, he joined the SPA Executive Committee, and was voted its Chairman. One of the SPA’s missions is to mobilize individual and organizational support to reward excellent students, as well as to support disadvantaged and rural students who are at risk of drop-out, so they can continue their education. As SPA Chairman, Mr. Khanh has enthusiastically supported EMW’s education projects, and is involved in many SPELL and GPOBA activities.
Says GPOBA Education Manager Ha Thu Huong, “We all agree that the Binh Dinh SPA is a very strong SPA partner. And Mr. Khanh is such a devoted SPA chairman. He contributes information and ideas that really improve the program."
Mr. Khanh expresses real appreciation for EMW's projects, because they help ease the burden on poor students by subsidizing school fees and encouraging them to excel in school. As he notes, “I have seen many well-funded projects that are poorly implemented, with little oversight or monitoring. But EMW is really professional in its project implementation. Its project officers are very devoted and responsible ... so project stakeholders are always willing to cooperate with EMW and the provincial SPA.”
EMW Education Programs staff are equally enthusiastic about Mr. Khanh and his organization. Says GPOBA Education Manager Ha Thu Huong, “We all agree that the Binh Dinh SPA is a very strong SPA partner. And Mr. Khanh is such a devoted SPA chairman. He contributes information and ideas that really improve the program. And he’s a very simple, modest man. When we go on field trips to visit families, he brings a small bag with a bottle of water, hat, raincoat and a piece of bread. For district scholarship delivery ceremonies, he’ll catch the bus at 4 am. What dedication!”
Mr. Khanh notes, “I have seen many well-funded projects that are poorly implemented, with little oversight or monitoring. But EMW is really professional in its project implementation. Its project officers are very devoted and responsible."
In over a decade heading up the Binh Dinh SPA, Mr. Khanh has been involved in every aspect of SPELL and GPOBA Education activities. Since the SPA has a very small staff, Mr. Khanh participates in every project phase, conducting surveys, developing solutions, getting documents signed, visiting students’ households, meeting sponsors, awarding scholarships, verifying school tutoring....the list goes on and on. He spends a lot of his time on home visits to students and parents, talking with them about the importance of education.
Mr. Khanh expresses his dedication to the program and the students: “When I meet students and their parents, I explain the program to them and encourage them to use the project’s support to overcome their difficulties, continue their education and get good results. When I see the very difficult situations that some of these students are in, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. I’m glad I’m devoting my time and energy to helping them."
Mr. Khanh speaks proudly of three SPELL students in Binh Dinh -- Huynh Thi Thu Dat and Huynh Thi Phuong Nguyen of My Thang Commune and Ha Thi My Hanh of My Phong Commune – who recently passed the entrance exam to Le Quy Don Gifted High School. They are now supported for their study in Quy Nhon City by SPELL.
“Without the favorable educational environment made possible by the SPELL project, these students would not be where they are now, with many opportunities for a great future ahead of them. I often raise the example of those three students to encourage others to study harder. Because EMW acknowledges students’ efforts and talents by providing scholarships at different levels.”
In addition to his SPA activities, Mr. Khanh loves swimming and walking, and is a great book lover. He helps take care of one set of grandchildren every day and makes frequent visits to another set in Ho Chi Minh City. He and his wife have two married adult children: a son with a Masters in English and a daughter with a Masters in Architeccture.
Some day, he hopes to devote more time to his other hobbies. As he says, “There was a time when I kept dozens of kinds of birds, weasels, turtles, etc. But I’m 73 years old, and I want to devote myself to the SPA’s work as long as I can, to help nurture the dreams of poor students and help make those dreams come true.”