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Speeches & Transcripts March 29, 2018

Vietnam: Tertiary Education Strategy stakeholder consultation

Your excellency Minister of Education Phung Xuan Nha

Vice Minister Nguyen Van Phuc

Prof Ju-Ho Lee, former Minister of Education and Research, Korea

British Council Country Director

Representatives from line ministries, universities and ladies and gentlemen


The World Bank has had a long-standing engagement in the development of the education sector in Vietnam since the mid-1990s. Our support to the Government of Vietnam has ranged from early childhood education to basic education to higher education, from building research, innovation and teaching capacity to reforms in the areas of equitable access and quality of learning at all levels. The formulation of a Higher Education Strategy 2021-2030 with vision for 2035 is an important example of our partnership with the Government of Vietnam. The motivation behind our support in this effort is three-fold.

First, Vietnam’s future economic growth will require more highly skilled workforce. Vietnam’s path toward prosperity by 2035 requires significant increase in productivity. Analysis from the recent Vietnam 2035 report shows that Vietnam’s economic development is roughly where Korea’s was three decades ago. As Korea did in those 30 years, Vietnam should consider embarking on an ambitious reform agenda to develop a high quality skilled workforce and to build research and innovation capacity suitable for the growing modern economy.

Second, great achievement in basic education has not translated into similar outcomes in higher education. Vietnam’s basic education system is globally recognized for producing high quality, equitable learning outcomes. PISA scores from 2015 show that Vietnam’s 15-year-olds have knowledge and skills that are at or above OECD average. Vietnam can capitalize on this potential pool of highly capable high school graduates by providing them with high quality, more relevant and responsive higher education options in the country.

Third, returns to tertiary education are high, justifying further investments in the sub-sector. Despite current challenges in the sub-sector, evidence shows that labor market outcomes such as salaries, likelihood of formal employment, and job quality are the highest for university graduates. The returns to tertiary education are as high as 17% in Vietnam and are among the highest in the world, thereby justifying increased investment in tertiary education by the Government and by the private sector. It is important to explore ways to diversify sources of financing and to strengthen allocation mechanism to make it more sustainable, efficient and equitable.

On behalf of the World Bank, I would like to affirm our continued support to the great work you are doing on the Higher Education Strategy. We will draw on our pool of global knowledge, expertise and experience to provide sound policy advice and analytical work. We hope the Ministry of Education and Training is able to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, both within the Government particularly with MOLISA, MOST, MOF and MPI and other ministries, and outside including the private sector.

I am very pleased to see that our speakers at today’s event include former Minister of Education from Korea, Professor Ju-Ho Lee; and our lead education specialist at the World Bank and former Vice Minister of Education from Colombia, Mr. Javier Botero Alvarez; former Cabinet minister from Wales Mr. Jane Davidson, Director at the Ministry of Higher Education from Malaysia, Ms. Norhayati Mohamed.

We would like to acknowledge the Trust Fund Grant support from the Government of Korea in the Higher Education Strategy work. We would also like to appreciate the partnership with the British Council for today’s event. And finally, I would like to congratulate the Minister and his team for spearheading this very important exercise.