Helping Academic Dreams Come True in Vietnam: A Little Goes a Long Way

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.


Higher Education in East Asia (World Bank)

Where Does the Path to Higher Education Lead? 

East Asian countries need to make the leap from middle-income to high-income countries, and higher education will be key. The forthcoming flagship report explores higher education in East Asia and the changes needed to make this happen. This site features studies that underpin the report, focusing on: Skills, Innovation, and Inclusiveness.

From the Introduction: 

More than 2,000 years ago, one of the first and most renowned universities in the world, Nalanda University, was established in India. This great regional center of learning hosted some 10,000 students at one time and attracted scholars from as far away as Greece, China, and Persia.

In Asia today, governments know that education remains critical to fostering long-term growth, reducing poverty and inequality, and advancing social and economic development. They know that, as the world advances rapidly toward a knowledge economy, higher-level skills will be essential to their national development. Students and their families also know that improving their capacities is essential to their future, which is why enrollments in institutions of higher learning in East Asia and the Pacific have skyrocketed and now exceed 30% of global enrollment.

What they may not realize, however, is that higher education systems are not keeping up with the changing skills that will be needed by the region’s labor markets. Education levels and technological capacity are not where they need to be to take advantage of the benefits that a global marketplace is bringing. The World Bank’s analysis shows that, without structural shifts in higher education, lower to middle-income East Asian countries may hit a “glass ceiling” of development. And other challenges remain. It’s not a given, for example, that jobs will be available for many graduates, that students will have the creative thinking skills that are in demand, that teaching practices will be up to par, or that educational institutions will have enough flexibility to cope with an environment of tighter budgets and diminishing public funds.