Fact #1: In Vietnam, about one million students finish secondary school (i.e., junior high school) every year but public high schools can only accommodate 80% of that number.
Fact #2: An estimated 200,000 students who failed one single high school entry exam have no other choice but to enroll in private schools. For students with economic difficulties, the high cost of tuition fees is a challenge.
Fact #3: Poor students are likely to drop out of school due to high tuition fees at private schools.
In a country with a per capita income of just under $2,000 (2013) there are many opportunities to improve the lives of significant numbers of people with relatively small amounts of money – by international standards. An education project funded by the World Bank and implemented by the East Meets West Foundation is a perfect example of this. From 2010 to 2013, The Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid Program provided grants to 8,000 disadvantaged students in 12 of the poorest provinces in northern and central Vietnam to help them continue their studies at a private high school or vocational school.
While Vietnam’s educational system is changing and improving in some respects, it doesn’t offer many second chances or alternative education and training paths. And like most educational systems it favors those who have over those who don’t. In addition to addressing the issue of ability to pay, the next logical challenge is to improve the quality of what they’re paying for, i.e., the education and training that these young people and many others are receiving at the nation’s high schools and vocational schools. [The secondary school enrollment is 71% (2011).]
I look forward to seeing more of these types of programs with other sources of funding, sponsors and arrangements, including public-private partnerships.
Follow this link to read the World Bank press release in English or Vietnamese.