Narrowing the education gap remains important as the new school year begins in Vietnam

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This week, more than 23 million students across Vietnam listened to the reverberation of drums to mark the beginning of the new school year. Traditionally, thunderous drums evoke excitement in children as they embark on their journey of learning and development. Today’s level of education, with nearly universal enrollment at the primary and lower secondary levels, far exceeds that of previous generations.

After a break in learning this fall, the next school year is expected to provide an opportunity for students to catch up and continue to build a foundation of skills and knowledge that will prepare them for success. It is more important than ever to ensure that all children have equal access to educational opportunities by closing the remaining educational gaps. Learning during COVID-19 varies significantly in different parts of the population, with poorer households having less access to online learning than wealthier households. Even among those digitally connected, studying at home faced challenges and distractions.

Education is the key to generating greater human capital that drives economic growth and development in the next mile of Vietnam’s development. However, despite significant progress in improving education, inequalities persist, with large differences between socioeconomic groups in terms of education completion, the quality of schooling children receive, and the amount of money households spend on education. There is a difference.

Education completion rates for children from the poorest households are much lower than those from the richest households. By the age of 19, only one-fifth of her poorest 20% students are in school compared to 80% of the richest 20%. Inequalities persist across ethnic groups and regions, and minorities often fall behind in educational attainment. Meanwhile, secondary school enrollment in rural areas is nearly 15 percentage points lower than in urban areas (76% vs. 90%). Geographical disparities also exist. Children in the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands have consistently lagged behind in learning outcomes over the past decade, although regional disparities have narrowed over time. Low net enrollment rates, high dropout rates, and low advancement rates between educational levels continue to characterize these regions.

Individual household spending on education also varies widely between wealthy and poor families in Vietnam. Even at the compulsory level of primary and secondary education, the richest households are 5.6 times more likely to spend on additional courses than the poorest. Vietnam’s majority Kinh family spends more than seven times more on extra classes for their children than her ethnic minority. This disparity may be caused by low household incomes, reduced availability of additional classes in remote areas populated by many ethnic minorities, and high opportunity costs of keeping children in school. Differences in education spending by background can lead to differences in education completion, impact future employment and economic opportunities, and lead to greater inequalities.

Governments can play an important role in leveling the playing field. Disadvantaged households cannot fill the investment gap in education themselves. Gaps in educational attainment and learning outcomes start early in life and can continue to widen if left unchecked. Disadvantaged children, who are often left behind, are unable to pursue tertiary education or acquire the skills and knowledge needed for skilled work and are mostly engaged in manual labor in the informal sector. We often have no other choice. This can lead to lower educational and life outcomes for children, perpetuating cycles of poverty from generation to generation.

Timely policy actions are needed to improve equitable access to education and address socioeconomic inequalities in educational and skills development opportunities. Further improvements in the quality of education are needed to support poorer children and mitigate the impact of declining private spending among poorer groups. Greater equity in general education by improving school readiness, especially in remote areas, providing financial and non-monetary incentives, minimizing social barriers and developing approaches to school-parent engagement. sexuality can be achieved.

The importance of more equitable education is clear. Help the 23 million children in school today realize their full human capital potential Education for all is education for a more equitable and prosperous future.

The 2022 Vietnam Poverty and Equity Assessment – ​​From the Last Mile to the Next Mile explores the opportunities and challenges of creating a more equitable distribution of education in Vietnam, highlighting the government’s key role in addressing these issues. I am emphasizing.