Vietnam’s Centuries-Old Commitment to Education

Policy Professor Gerald Fry of the University of Minnesota makes a compelling case in an online publication that Vietnam’s commitment to education accounts for its economic progress and promise.

He says Vietnam’s passion for education evolved over centuries because of China’s Confucian influence, natural disasters that required innovative responses, and the need to repel foreign invaders.  Positive international influences include the French-inspired writing system, Soviet emphasis on science and math, and American community colleges.  And it helped that the father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, was deeply committed to education.

Now Vietnam has nearly universal basic education and 198 new post-secondary institutions, including 62 universities in Hanoi alone.  Notable achievements include a gold medal for a Vietnamese girl in the 2009 International Mathematics Olympiad, a 3rd place finish for Vietnam in the 2007 math olympiad.

Professor Fry points out that Vietnam has educational problems — such as inefficient management, lack of autonomy, low salaries for educators — but overall he makes a good case that Vietnam’s longstanding commitment to education positions the country to resume its remarkable economic progress after a couple of down years.

More on the value of education in Vietnam


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