Vietnam is a country rich with culture and traditions. Since the colonial periods when Vietnam was ruled by China for nearly one thousand years, Vietnamese people promoted learning and engraved the idea into every child at a very young age that intellectuals in the society such as educators were all superior to parents and are only inferior to the king. Unfortunately, when the French forcibly colonized Vietnam and used French as the dominant language in the education system, this resulted in the majority of Vietnamese people becoming illiterate.
Despite adversity, Vietnam has increasingly made significant achievements in the education sector and country as a whole. By analyzing the historical political roots in Vietnam during time periods such as independence from France, pre-1975, and post-1975, while also taking into consideration historical economic roots, and challenges with overcoming conservative teaching methods and under qualified teachers; it will be apparent how all these factors play a role in the development of the education system in present day Vietnam.
During the first meeting session of the Government independent from France in 1945, then President Ho Chi Minh established that the three critical tasks of the new Government and Vietnamese people were to fight against poverty, illiteracy, and invaders. According to a report organized by the World Bank, “In response to the Government policies and President Ho Chi Minh’s call, there were, within less than a year, seventy five thousand classes with nearly ninety-six thousand teachers to help 2. million people get out of illiteracy” (3).
This time period could be considered very important to the future of the education system in Vietnam because it was the birth of making education part of the national policy. It pushed the Vietnamese government to create a legal structure such as levels in education and provisions stating that all children from ages seven to thirteen years old would be able to attend school for free. This is beneficial in order to emphasize the necessity of education and literacy to he younger and future generations of the country. From 1955 leading up to 1975, all-round development was the ultimate goal for the second education reform that took place. Throughout this reform, “School Protection Committees” were established which nominated local people as teachers. The problem that arose from this was the cause of what potentially stunted the development of Vietnam’s education system. Local people who became teachers were just too conservative and close-minded in regards to teaching methods.
Similarly, in 2000 the renovating of Vietnam’s education curriculum took place. On a positive note, this renovation created a more practical approach to learning as oppose to a theoretical approach. The challenge became that teachers and authors all learned a specific way back in school and they wanted to carry on the same teaching methods and traditions. However, even if they had a better method to teach the material, most teachers did not meet the teaching qualifications.
This was a concern especially for policy-makers because science and technology is rapidly changing in today’s society therefore the education content and teaching methods cannot afford to fall behind. Following 1975, during nearly thirty years of reform Vietnam implemented anti-illiteracy activities targeting people who were in the age group of 12-50. This reform faced a number of challenges that all linked back to the lack of financial resources in the economic recession due to border war at the time.
Due to these financial limitations, teacher salaries were not high enough to generate enthusiasm and motivate teachers to better themselves and teach with a purpose of actually getting students to learn. As a result, in the later years Education Law stated that as an incentive for educators, if they work in areas with extreme socio-economic difficulties, specialized schools, schools for gifted students, boarding schools for ethnic minorities, and schools for people with disabilities, they will get an extra allowance in addition to salary.
This incentive system plus scholarships and financial aid that the government eventually gave to students who came from socio-economically disadvantage families was beneficial because it provided students and disable students the means to stay in school and not drop out because their families could not afford school or because disabled students ere not well accommodated at school. Finally, when Vietnam and its government wanted to create a more competitive education system and produce more competitive students and citizens, they participated more in the foreign exchange and study abroad programs which helped developed new innovative ideas for teaching and pushed towards advancement in the science and technology sector.
Despite being forcibly colonized by France which left much of the entire country of Vietnam illiterate and being an impoverished, war-torn country after the Vietnam War, Vietnam never lost the commitment to promote and create better education opportunities for the future generations of its country. After multiple education reforms and different changes such as curriculum renovation, teaching incentives, financial aid, and foreign exchange programs within the last roughly fifty years, Vietnam managed to make some positive steps towards an education system that is continuously improving in competitiveness and quality.
There is no doubt that this country has a lot more improving that will have to take place and challenges to face along the way but with policy-makers’ commitment and dedication to development in the political and education sector as well as the drive and motivation that must be present in Vietnam’s society today, an education system with quality and success will certainly be in the future for Vietnam.
“Education in Vietnam Development History, Challenges, and Solutions.”http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1121703274255/1439264-1153425508901/Education_Vietnam_Development.pdf. World Bank, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. Nguyen, Loc. “Education for Sustainable Development in Vietnam.” Web. 13 Nov. 2011.
“Vietnam: World Bank- administered GPOBA and East Meets West Foundation to Help Provide Secondary Education For Poor Students.” http://www.gpoba.org/gpoba/sites/gpoba.org/files/VN%20Education%20PR%20May%202010.pdf. The Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid, Apr. 2010. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.