Dreaming of an Education Abroad

Education - Saigon/HCMC: March 23, 2016

By Nat Paolone

Perhaps the main reason a good education is so valued is that it will help secure a solid job and salary, thereby lifting families out of poverty. Oh of course let’s not forget the bragging rights are endless once a foreign degree is achieved!

With an overseas education, the opportunities are far greater for landing employment in a foreign country, as well as achieving a high position once back on Vietnam soil within an international company (note, not local company, as Vietnamese generally prefer to work for an international company, but that is another topic!).

The brightest and most secure scholars abroad often create a local “brain drain” or “skills vacuum” in a country constantly seeking people with solid skills for growth in all areas. Let’s delve into the fascinating aspect of this seemingly national dream of a great education.

I often chuckle when I hear Vietnamese talk about how officials promote a grand masterplan to increase the quality of education country-wide, boasting the quality of Vietnamese education. Yet these same policy makers will never allow their own children to study in Vietnam. Nooooooooooo... my kids are heading overseas to get a real education!

“These same policy makers will never allow their own children to study in Vietnam.”

They merrily send their little princes and princesses to a good university in one of the great cities around the world. So may we boldly ask... why do Vietnamese parents have no faith in their country’s education system?

Source: flickr - Masa Israel Journey

Well, have a look at an excerpt from a report on Current Quality Measures for Educational Quality Management in Vietnam by Nguyen Thi My Loc, Hanoi University.

“According to official evaluation for Vietnam education, the quality and efficiency of education – training is still low. Level of knowledge, practical skills and methods of scientific thinking, mastering of foreign languages and physical strength of most students are weak. For many graduated students, the ability to apply knowledge in production and life is limited. Most graduates are not able to adapt to the rapid changes in industry as well as in technology”.

I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering what the heck does physical strength have anything to do with education or IQ? Sorry Professor Loc but millions of years of evolutionary biology show us that we humans have developed the highest level of intelligence of any species. So, we don’t really need physical strength to fend off predators any more.

“Some teachers use the system’s lacking attributes to their advantage by offering parents extra tutoring - for a fee”

Among several issues parents lament is how some teachers use the system’s lacking attributes to their advantage by offering parents extra tutoring - for a fee - to help ensure their child’s advancement.

An organisation funded by the Department of International Development (UK) outlined the following challenges. Here is a snapshot:

  • Low basic skills acquisition
  • A narrow focus on scholastic achievement by teachers who have been trained using traditional teaching methods which fail to encourage interactive learning
  • Over-reliance on private tuition
  • Children failing to perform well due to nadequate nutrition

Ok, so let’s look at the bright possibilities these young, ripe students of Vietnam have before them. Refreshingly it seems there is a trend among this generation to seek out knowledge beyond the school system, go online, travel or study abroad, all of which fundamentally connect with the vast knowledge base our great planet has to offer.

“It seems there is a trend among this generation to seek out knowledge beyond the school system”

Some have given up on the traditional information system. Instead they aspire to learn and seek out knowledge that is available to all, beyond the information barriers. This may seemingly be the main route to awareness and personal/national growth in Vietnam.