Vietnam is home to nearly 90 million inhabitants, and boasts a long, pristine coastline.

The country’s lush, tropical setting belies a turbulent history of colonization and warfare that ended with the establishment of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1975. In the years after unification, the country was plagued by poverty, repression and international isolation that hindered widespread economic prosperity. Today, Vietnam is one of the world’s most populous countries and a large segment of its population lives on less than US$2/day.

According to the World Bank, 22% of Vietnam’s population currently lives below the poverty line, an economic reality that coupled with a long history of warfare has contributed to poor infrastructure development. In the 1980's, the country’s one-party government introduced a series of reforms aimed at improving the economy and living standards. The Doi Moi (renovation), as it’s called, has made great advances since then—specifically in the areas of growing private enterprise, attracting foreign investment and transforming the country into an industrialized nation.

In the cities, a young middle class is eager to become engaged in trade with the rest of the world, but despite all efforts made to expand opportunities nearly two-thirds of the Vietnamese population still works as field laborers.

Population 93 million
Land area 331,600 Km2
National language of instruction Vietnamese
Launch of operations 2001
Room to Read office Ho Chi Minh City
Regions where we work Thai Nguyen, Tuyen Quang, Bac Giang (North), Binh Dinh (Central), Can Tho, Long An, Ho Chi Minh City, Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh (South)

Educational Landscape

Marred by a history of warfare and poverty, Vietnam continues its struggle to develop an effective infrastructure, and 33% of the population is under the age of 15.

Despite concerted efforts to improve education by the Vietnamese government through the Doi Moi policy, which provides for universal education through the secondary level, the concept of a knowledge-based economy is new in Vietnam, and presents many challenges to the education system—particularly in rural areas. 

With facilities in short supply, many students have inadequate access to the textbooks and supplies they need. In rural areas, transportation is also a challenge, with many students forced to travel miles alone on treacherous roads to reach the nearest school. Often, family pressure outweighs children’s dreams to finish their education, and girls in particular drop out so they can contribute to the household income.

Programs & Results

Room to Read Vietnam was founded in 2001 as our second country of operation. We began our work in a few regions along the Mekong Delta, and have now expanded to include communities throughout northern and southern Vietnam.

Our focus on infrastructure in the country includes School Construction, School Libraries and Book Publishing—with a special focus on printing “big books” for shared reading. We also operate our Girls’ Education program in Vietnam, and most recently introduced a Reading & Writing Instruction program that targets early literacy skills among primary school children.

Key partners in Vietnam include the Department of Education and Training and the Union of Friendship Organizations.

Cumulative results
Libraries established 862
Book titles published 90
School construction projects 120
Girls' Education participants 3,863

Results updated annually

Meet our local staff:
Phong Le, Country Director

Phong has spent more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector working with leading development agencies like the World Bank, AusAID, ActionAid and the Food & Agriculture Organization, but began his career—in true Room to Read fashion—as a professional librarian.

Now, in his role as country director for Room to Read Vietnam, Phong says the stories of triumph he hears from children we work with inspire him to constantly do more. “They energize me and help me to cope with challenges and difficulties in my job,” he says.

In his spare time, Phong loves to cook and read stories with his own children.  “I am happy to see my kids growing with love for books.”

See our work

Visit a school or library in any of the countries where we work and meet the local team that makes it all possible.

Site visits »


Charity Navigator Four Start Rating

Less than 1% of US nonprofits have received nine consecutive Charity Navigator four star ratings. Our transparency and accountability place us among the best charities. See for yourself.

Our Financials »

See our work

Documentary filmmakers travel to Room to Read projects across Asia and Africa to tell the stories of children who are benefitting from our programs.

Browse films »

See our work in person »

You can change the world

Send a girl to school, start a library, or build new classrooms. We can help you run your own fundraising campaign with your friends and family, complete with your own microsite to collect gifts and track your progress.

Personal Fundraising »

Check out a great campaign »

Have questions?

Contact us online at

Global Office:
+1 (415) 839-4400
9am-5pm Pacific Time (US)
Mon-Fri, excluding holidays

See all offices »