Vietnam: Helping 8,000 Poor Students Pursue Their Academic Dreams

April 10, 2014

From 2010 to 2013, the GPOBA: Vietnam Education Project provided tuition subsidies to more than 8,000 poor students to attend non-public upper secondary schools and professional secondary schools. Using an output-based aid approach, the project linked the payment of a tuition subsidy with student performance. This helped increase access to upper secondary school education and reduce dropout rates among disadvantaged students in 12 provinces in Vietnam.


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.

" The project not only helped me financially, but also encouraged me a lot. I felt that I was cared for. Finishing 10th grade, my GPA was good, but by the 11th and 12th grades, I was getting excellent. "

Cao Thi Phuong Huyen,

Student at Hung Vuong University in Phu Tho Province

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank contributed to this project through the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) program, a multi-donor financing program. This $3 million project is the first education project funded by GPOBA.


The project was designed and implemented under close collaboration between donors, international and local agencies.
The East Meets West Foundation, a non-governmental organization headquartered in the U.S., was responsible for project preparation and implementation. The GPOBA Education Program partners with community organizations such as the local Study Promotion Association, which provide student referrals, help monitor student progress and promote family involvement.

Moving Forward

The project offers an interesting model and innovative approach for future efforts aimed at increasing upper secondary education enrollment and completion in Vietnam. The Ministry of Education and Training can replicate this model and expand the project to all provinces in Vietnam.

90 percent
of beneficiaries in 51 participating schools went on to college or continued their education