- I want to protect my community and myself

Truong Thi Thuy Dung is one of 61 students graduated from the Master Programme in Human Rights Law at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi. The Master programme was established in 2010, as the first of its kind in Vietnam, and is supported by the Vietnam Programme at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR).

Truong Thi Thuy Dung. Photo: Solveig Igesund/NCHR.

Why did you choose the master programme in human rights?

- I want to protect my community and myself. Many people don't know that what their rights are, says Truong Thi Thuy Dung (36).

- Human rights is new and sensitive in Vietnam. I wanted to take the course to improve the lives of people, not now – but in the future. With my knowledge I can advise people. And step-by-step we will see change, Dung continues.

First of its kind

We meet Dung and her fellow students in the human rights library at Vietnam National University (VNU). When the Master of Laws in Human Rights was launched in 2010 it was the first of its kind in Vietnam.

The purpose of the cooperation between VNU and NCHR is to enhance the capacity on human rights education at the School of Law at VNU.

Through the master programme the project also aim to increase the general knowledge of human rights in Vietnam, as well as strenghtening academic cooperation between Norway and Vietnam.

Valuable knowledge

Bui Thi Hoa. Photo: Solveig Igesund/NCHR

Bui Thi Hoa (28) was part of the first batch of students admitted into the programme in 2010. She wrote her thesis on migrant workers and immigrant rights in Vietnam, and now works in the Ministry of Justice.

Hoa chose the programme partly because human rights is a new topic in Vietnam and partly because it was sponsored. The new knowledge that she gained during the programme also turned out to be relevant in her job at the ministry.

- Last year the government changed the constitution, and during the process my office was asked about the amendment. I wrote a report on the new human rights chapter, where I compared the old constitution to the new one. I also wrote about the limitations of the new constitution, says Hoa.

Hard to find relevant job

The overall feedback from the students was that the master programme has enriched their knowledge on human rights. They also highlighted the positive aspects of having courses in English and the combination of international and national lecturers.

However, since human rights is a relatively new topic in Vietnam, they also underlined the problem of finding a relevant job after graduating. The students therefore had several recommendations on how to improve the programme. This included an increased focus on human rights in practice, and the possibility to do an internship in a relevant institution in Vietnam.

By Solveig Igesund
Published Jan. 2, 2015 9:54 AM - Last modified Jan. 29, 2015 2:37 PM