Well Begun, But Aiming Higher: A Review of Vietnam's Education Trends in the Past 20 Years and Emerging Challenges

58 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017

See all articles by Hai-Anh Dang

Hai-Anh Dang

World Bank - Development Data Group (DECDG); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA); Global Labor Organization (GLO); Vietnam National University Ha Noi; Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) - Centre for Analysis and Forecasting

Paul Glewwe

University of Minnesota - College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences - Department of Applied Economics

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Date Written: June 26, 2017

Abstract

Given its modest position as a lower-middle-income country, Vietnam stands out from the rest of the world with its remarkable performance on standardized test scores, school enrollment, and completed years of schooling. This paper provides an overview of the factors behind this exemplary performance, from an institutional viewpoint and by analyzing several data sources, some of which have rarely been used. The study finds that Vietnam has significantly increased school enrollment at all school levels in the past 20 years, and has achieved virtually universal primary school enrollment. Girls' net enrollment rates caught up with and then overtook those of boys at the secondary level in the past decade. Most of the variation in school enrollment and completed years of schooling was due to within-commune individual factors, rather than between-commune or between-province factors. School-level factors played an important, but diminishing, role in determining students' test scores, which was likely caused by a convergence in school quality in the country. The paper further discusses a host of challenges for the country -- most of which have received insufficient attention to date -- such as little school choice, a low secondary enrollment rate (compared with other Programme for International Student Assessment participants), inadequate training for the labor market, and the necessity of strategic planning for systemic reforms.

Keywords: Inequality, Social Development & Poverty, Educational Sciences, Social Protections & Assistance

Suggested Citation

Dang, Hai-Anh H. and Glewwe, Paul, Well Begun, But Aiming Higher: A Review of Vietnam's Education Trends in the Past 20 Years and Emerging Challenges (June 26, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8112, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3006156

Hai-Anh H. Dang (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Data Group (DECDG) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

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Global Labor Organization (GLO) ( email )

Collogne
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Vietnam National University Ha Noi ( email )

Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) - Centre for Analysis and Forecasting ( email )

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Hanoi
Vietnam

Paul Glewwe

University of Minnesota - College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

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Room 231
St. Paul, MN 55108-1995
United States

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