Despite significant improvements in enrollment rates in recent years, the quality and effectiveness of education in Vietnam’s poorer regions remains low, while drop-out and repetition rates remain high. The primary reason for student dropout is that families cannot afford the tuition.
Every year, about one million students graduate from secondary schools but the public school system can only accommodate about 70 to 80 percent of them. Those who cannot pass one single high school entry exam have to go to private schools, which are generally more expensive and beyond the affordability of many poor students. Many of them have no other choice than opting out of high school.
The project provided financial support to disadvantaged students to follow their academic aspirations despite economic hardships. Using an output-based approach, also known as “performance-based aid,” the project linked the payment of a tuition subsidy with student performance. Participating schools pre-financed the tuition fee for each beneficiary student. If the student met a minimum grade, attendance and behavior requirements at the end of the term, the school would receive the tuition subsidy. These performance criteria were verified by the World Bank’s independent verification team who traveled frequently to all participating schools, reviewed students’ record and profiles, and visited students’ families.
By creating an incentive for schools to actively seek to improve a student’s performance, this approach improved the quality of education for the student as well as encouraged their schools to help students achieve the learning outcomes.
The project was awarded the INOBATION (GPOBA Innovation) prize for this innovative approach in supporting the poor children in Vietnam.
From 2010 to 2013, the project helped provide access to upper secondary education for poor students in 12 provinces in Vietnam with several key outcomes:
- More than 8,000 poor students received grants to enroll in 67 non-public high schools and professional schools.
- The dropout rate of project beneficiaries is about 5 percent, significantly under the national rate of 10 percent. Project beneficiary students’ average grade point average (GPA) increased annually from 5.95 out of 10.00 in the school year 2010-2011 to 6.33 in 2012-2013.
- Almost 90 percent of beneficiaries in 51 participating schools went on to college or continued their education.