The Evolution of Education in Vietnam: From Tradition to Modernity

The Evolution of Education in Vietnam: From Tradition to Modernity

Vietnam has come a long way in terms of education since the country gained its independence in 1945. Prior to this, the education system was designed to teach feudal ideology and cultivate obedience to the monarchy. However, over the decades, the country has made significant strides in improving its education system to provide a better quality of education to its citizens. This article will explore the evolution of education in Vietnam from tradition to modernity.

Traditional Education in Vietnam

Traditionally, education in Vietnam was limited to the elite and focused on Confucianism where scholars were considered the highest social class. The education system was structured around learning Chinese script and studying the four major Confucian texts. This kept the majority of Vietnamese people illiterate and prevented them from being able to participate in governing their country.

In the 19th century, the French colonial government introduced a Western education system in Vietnam, which was available only to the wealthy and elite. This system emphasized French and other European languages and subjects, and it was only after Hanoi’s University was established in 1906 that Vietnamese students gained access to higher education.

Education under Communist Rule

After the end of French colonial rule, the Communist government took over and introduced significant changes to the education system. The government nationalized all schools and universities, abolished tuition fees, and initiated a mass literacy campaign. Literacy rates rose from 10% in 1950 to 90% in 1990.

The government aimed to create a system of education that was accessible to all Vietnamese citizens, with its focus on providing “education for work,” which meant emphasizing practical, hands-on knowledge rather than theory. The educational curriculum focused on agricultural and industrial sector, with little emphasis on the humanities and social sciences. Nevertheless, the government invested heavily in education, especially in building schools and universities, and providing tuition-free education.

Rise of Modern Education in Vietnam

In 1986, the Vietnamese government introduced the policy of Doi Moi (renovation), which called for a shift towards a market-oriented economy. This also impacted the education system, with a greater emphasis placed on vocational education, technical training, and entrepreneurship. The government also started to prioritize STEM education to produce a workforce more suited for the country’s economic development.

Vietnam’s education system has evolved from being limited to the elites to becoming accessible to all and prioritizing practical knowledge for economic development. The country has also made significant strides in increasing literacy rates and investing in education, leading to more opportunities for their citizens. The government continues to make efforts to improve the quality of education by investing in faculty training, modernizing infrastructure and curriculum, and encouraging research and innovation.


Vietnam’s education system has undergone significant changes over the years to become accessible to all citizens, emphasizing practical skills, and providing better quality education. Despite the challenges faced along the way, Vietnam has come a long way since its traditional education system, and its education policies continue to improve. The country’s focus on STEM education and technical training is a step forward to meeting the demands of a rapidly developing economy, potentially propelling it to the forefront of Asia’s innovation and growth in the future.

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