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Changes Young People Want in Education: Viet Nam

As part of the United Nations Asia and the Pacific Report on Youth Opinion Poll, carried out from April to June 2014, we asked young people between 15 and 29 years old living in the Asia-Pacific region, “If you were the head of government of your country, what changes would you make about education in your country?” Starting from the November 2014 issue, the Education Policy Matters! newsletter has been showcasing the responses received from different countries in the region. This month, we take a look at the responses from Viet Nam.

272 Vietnamese youths took part in the survey in total, with about 83 per cent of the responses in Vietnamese and the rest in English. 26 per cent of the respondents were male, 70 per cent were female and 4 per cent were transgender. The majority of respondents were over 20 years of age (48 percent were aged between 20 and 24, while 23 per cent were aged between 25 and 29). Only 78 out of 272 respondents (29 per cent) were aged below 20 years. In terms of educational attainment, slightly more than half of the respondents had completed higher education (47 per cent were bachelor’s degree holders, 4 per cent were master’s degree holders) while 37 per cent of them had completed secondary or vocational education.

At the centre of Vietnamese youths’ concerns is the feeling that schools in the country do not offer sufficient opportunities to practise and to learn by doing.  Many of the respondents consider that the learning process in Viet Nam focuses too much on rote memorization, and that teaching methodology is still dominated by “chalk and talk”. Such a learning process leads to weak interaction between learners and teachers, and in turn, inefficient learning. Some suggested that more practice sessions should be added to the existing curriculum and that teachers should only act as facilitators so that students learn more independently and autonomously through learning by doing.

A significant number of the respondents consider the current curriculum not only overloaded but also quite irrelevant to their life and career prospects. They also highlighted the fact that, with a heavy curriculum, learners would have to split their study time among different subjects, some of which do not interest them. This may hinder learners’ talents from flourishing since they could have used the time spent on what they were not interested in to study the subjects they were interested in or to develop the skills they are good at. Special attention was paid to the secondary education level which was found to be in need of less workload and more emphasis on imparting soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

Along the same line, many of the respondents expressed their wish for an education system where students can choose subjects and tracks based on their interests. They believe that interest-based learning will improve students’ engagement in learning and, as one respondent said, ‘encourage us to think deeply about what we really want in life’.

For more information, please contact Ushio Miura [u.miura(at)] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit.

Written by Nhat Linh Nguyen [nl.nguyen(at)} and Stephanie Choo [s.choo(at)]

Related Links:

• UN Asia and the Pacific Report on Youth
• Changes Young People Want in Education: China
• Changes Young People Want in Education: Philippines & Korea
• Changes Young People Want in Education: Thailand
• The World We Want