The Central Value of Education in Vietnamese Culture | EDUBOSTON

The Central Value of Education in Vietnamese Culture

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018


Did you know that Vietnam ranked eighth out of 72 economies in science performance in the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), surpassing the US and many European nations?  This is despite lower wealth and lower parental educational backgrounds.  And, this is despite an education system that is inflexible, still more often based on rote memorization, often under-resourced, with large class sizes and with little student-teacher interaction.  What is going on?

There are different theories and interpretations, ranging from, in-depth curriculum on core concepts and skills,  government investment in improving schools to the fact that only about 50 percent of Vietnam’s 15-year-olds, the age group that PISA tests, are still in school at that age, so the PISA results reflect only the strongest students.

But many Vietnamese immigrants who study in US high schools are also outstandingly successful.  Perhaps a larger key to Vietnamese students’ outstanding results are due to the high value that Vietnamese culture places on education. Education is one of the country’s core values, in part based on its strong Confucian traditions, which, according to University of Minnesota professor Gerald Fry, “place great emphasis on the value of learning, reverence for teachers, and a strong motivation to learn.“  Ho Chi Minh recognized education as key to the nation’s future success, and this belief continues strongly today. 

The Vietnamese minister of education, Phung Xuan Nha, said, “Vietnamese parents can sacrifice everything, sell their houses and land just to give their children an education.” In return on this investment, the child’s educational attainment is also seen as the family’s accomplishment.

The high value placed on education is the main reason that so many Vietnamese families are sending their children to study abroad.  Although the majority go abroad to community colleges and universities, increasingly, Vietnamese families are joining the trend seen among Chinese and South Korean families of sending their children to study in private US high schools as a strong pathway to US university.  

See also 

Vietnamese Students in the US – The Latest Figures

Factors in the Increasing Flow of International Students from Vietnam

12 Reasons Vietnamese Students Choose to Study in the US

A Vietnamese Education Market Reading List