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In Vietnam, education and training has always played a central role, as a priority of the government and of each individual family. In fact, the sector receives enormous financial investment, having been allocated over 20% of government spending in 2015, a level deemed to be higher than that of any other OECD country. With this amount of investment, the efforts do bear fruits: in 2015, results of Vietnamese students, aged 15, who were randomly selected to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, showed a ranking of 12, higher than those from developed nations like the US or the UK.  

However, this does not necessarily mean there are no pertinent issues with the system. By contrast, there are critical ones that the country needs to tackle comprehensively in order to prepare the best human resources for the nation’s future. An unsettled issue is creating educational opportunities for all. The 2015 Millennium Development Goal final report, drafted by the MDRI team, points to the fact that there exists inequality in educational access, particularly with the levels post universal-primary school, between the ethnic majorities and ethnic minorities, and between the urban and rural areas. This means that more effort should be made to broaden the reach of education to remote and disadvantaged groups.

Another issue is one of quality, which has been drawing considerable public attention. Despite the impressive investment for this sector, Vietnamese students are regarded as not adequately equipped with soft skills such as problem-solving, team work, etc., which are integral to producing competitive and effective candidates in the labor market. With regards to this issue, reforms have been implemented on the education system, one of which is the Vietnam Escuela Nueva Project (GPE-VNEN). The US $84.6 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to the Government of Vietnam aims to promote innovative teaching and learning methods, classroom organization, assessment of student trends, and community involvement. The teaching method is set to develop independent thinking in children as early as in their primary school years and to close the gap in the quality of education for disadvantaged and ethnic minority students, who are supported through the implementation of  the model. With education being a major theme in its activities, MDRI has carried out an independent impact evaluation of this program over 4 years to provide data-backed evidence on the effects that such a project can bring to the country’s education system.

Although education is highly emphasized, the component of vocational training is left almost neglected. In fact, a study by the ILO (2013) shows that Vietnamese labor productivity is among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region. To address this issue, alongside the Government of Vietnam’s endeavor to strengthen this sector, MDRI has conducted a major study in 2015, namely “Vocational Education Training Financing/Cost Norm Studies,” which thoroughly reviewed the current financing system of vocational schools and proposed a revised costing method that enhances attractiveness to potential students.

     It is not often that we can motivate a study of education in a developing country because they are doing so well. Vietnam is that success story. In the span of 25 years, Vietnam went from one of the poorest countries in Asia with abysmal living standards and stagnating educational attainment to one of…

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     The Fred Hollows Foundation is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and is founded by the eye surgeon Professor Fred Hollows. The Foundation operates under the mission of helping to prevent blindness in the developing world. In Vietnam, the Fred Hollows Foundation is implementing two projects –…

Research to Improve Vietnam’s Education System Principal Investigators:Dr Paul Glewwe (University of Minnesota), Dr Joan DeJaeghere (University of Minnesota), Dr Le ThucDuc (Centre for Analysis and Forecasting and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Young Lives) Other key researchers: Pedro Carneiro (University College London), Hai-Anh H. Dang (World Bank), Sonya Krutikova (Institute for Fiscal Studies),   Jonathan…

OVERVIEW The ultimate aim of the study on Vocational Education Training (TVET) Financing/Program Cost Norm is to determine the most effective funding model for Vietnam’s vocational college system, which plays an increasingly important role in the education and training system of the country. The mission of the MDRI research team is to study alternate models…

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