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Vietnam - Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceVietnam - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


Education policy in Vietnam is determined at the national level by the Ministry of Education and Training, which is the main body in charge of education in the whole country. It issues directives to officials in the educational establishment in the whole country on how the laws and ordinances approved by the National Assembly and/or the government are to be implemented. The Ministry draws annual and five-year plans for educational development and submits them to the government, which then presents them to the National Assembly for approval. The Ministry is divided into general departments and departments responsible for specific branches of study. The former includes finance, planning, organization and personnel, international relations, and science and technology. The departments for specific studies include: the "Young Shoot" education, primary education, secondary education, secondary vocational education and craft-teaching, higher education, and post-graduate studies. The Ministry is also in charge of inspection of education facilities and evaluation of teaching at all levels.

Although the Ministry of Education is in charge of formulating policies, in effect, several other governmental agencies and the communist party apparatus are also involved. Thus, the Central Committee and the Polit-bureau of the Communist party of Vietnam decide the "line and strategic orientation" for education. The Party was involved in making the initial strategic shifts in education policy at all important stages of reform. The National Assembly discusses the details of the policies as approved by the Party's top leadership. All the important laws and decrees are issued in the name of the National Assembly. Sometimes, the government appoints a "National Committee" to be in charge of implementation of major education drives such as the one established in 1989 for the eradication of illiteracy or universalization of primary education. The drive resulted in the legislation of 1991, which made primary education universal. The Committee included representatives of 11 ministries and various mass organizations of peasants, women, and youth who would galvanize the support of their members for the government programs. Indicative of the importance of education in Vietnam was the establishment in 1997 of the National Education Council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

Until 1987, there were four separate ministries at the national level in charge of education. In that year, they were consolidated into two ministries—the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry for Higher, Technical and Vocational Education. In 1990, there came a major reorganization and the merging of the entire management of education into one management behemoth, namely, the Ministry of Education and Training. It has 15 divisions, including the central office of the Ministry, planning and finance, personnel, inspection, international cooperation, preschool education, primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education, postgraduate (graduate) education, in-service and complementary education, physical education, sport, and science and technology.

While the Ministry of Education and Training is directly responsible for higher education, it leaves the routine administration including personnel, finance, and organization at "young shoot," primary, secondary, vocational, and craft-teaching schools to provincial, district, and community level officials and people's committees at those levels. District offices have two main divisions: inspection and management and facilities. In the case of vocational and craft-teaching schools, all these agencies work with those departments of the central government that deal with industrial enterprises in the public and private sectors.

In general, the Ministry of Education confines itself to formulation of objectives, planning, new programs, inspection, and examinations held at the end of the secondary education. It also concerns itself in the areas of teacher training in specific fields such as music and painting, gymnastics, sports, and technology. It also declares from time to time which crafts need emphasis in the crafts schools and vocational education. The general control of the Ministry of Education over the entire educational apparatus in the country is maintained significantly by its authority to release funds for salaries of teachers and scholarships at all levels of education. As for higher education, the Ministry of Education is directly responsible for the two national universities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and three regional universities in Thai Nguyen, Hue, and Da Nang, and a number of colleges: Hanoi University of Technology, Hanoi National Economy College, Can Tho University, Hanoi University of Foreign Languages, Trade College, Hanoi Open University, Ho Chi Minh City Open University, and International Post-Graduate Schools. The Ministry also is in charge of some "national programs" such as construction of boarding schools for ethnic minorities, upgrading the teacher training schools, and international cooperation programs such as the World Bank's program for primary education. There are some 25 other colleges under the management of other ministries. Thus, the Hanoi Medical College is managed by the Ministry of Health; the College of Culture and the Hanoi Conservatoire under the Ministry of Culture; the water Conservancy College under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; and the College of Gymnastics and Sports under the General Department of Gymnastics and Sports.

Despite the proclaimed priority to education, the financial allocations to education fall far short of the requirements. In general, the national government finances the full cost of higher and vocational education and a quarter of the expenses on preschool, primary, and secondary education. Even so, with the increasing allocation for education from 8.9 percent in 1990 to around 12.0 percent of the total national budget in 2000, Vietnam's education budget compares well with the education budgets of most developing countries. The trend is toward increasing such allocations at the national, as well as at the provincial and district levels. The bulk of the allocations are, however, absorbed by salaries of teachers and other personnel estimated at 75 to 80 percent of the Ministry's budget, with only about 20 percent available for construction, equipment, and new programs. As mentioned before, a substantial part of the costs of construction of school structures at the primary level is met through "volunteer contributions" from parents. Students also contribute toward "incidental expenses" of different kinds through special fees.

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