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Illiteracy falls over 20 years but more to be done: World Bank

Update: April, 21/2012 - 09:40

HA NOI — The portion of the Vietnamese population aged 25 to 55 without any schooling has fallen from 23 per cent to less than 1 per cent over the past 20 years, according to a report released yesterday by the World Bank.

The Viet Nam High Quality Education for All Report presented a comprehensive picture of both achievements and setbacks in education during the last two decades, aiming to provide a deeper analysis of domestic primary and secondary schools, said Keiko Sato, the World Bank Portfolio and Operations Manager.

The report showed that the national education sector has faced major challenges, including persistent inequalities in grades, attendance and completion among disadvantaged groups.

Elsa Duret, Budget Support Advisor from the Belgian Development Agency, said progress was most evident at the primary and secondary levels.

The primary education completion rate rose from 39.6 to 88 per cent in rural areas between 1992 and 2008, while the lower secondary completion rate increased from 19.6 to 73.5 per cent.

The report said that the Vietnamese literacy rate is on par with those of East Asian countries and middle-income countries with significantly higher GDPs.

The problematic findings related particularly to low-income and ethnic minority groups, which had attendance rates below the national average: 84 per cent for lower secondary education and 48 per cent for upper secondary education.

Only 52 per cent of children from ethnic minority groups completed lower secondary education, compared to 80 per cent of majority students.

Completion rates for upper secondary for minorities are one-third the rates for the Kinh group accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the whole population in the same period.

Le Tien Thanh, head of the Ministry of Education and Training's Primary Education Department, said the education sector has to ensure that all Vietnamese students have equal access to education and that schools continue to improve in the future.

"The most important thing is that we need to increase the effectiveness of spending in the education sector," he said.

According to Thanh, the Government has allocated 20 per cent of the State Budget to the education sector.

Viet Nam should prioritise funding for the education sector and improvements in both teaching methods and school management, said Emanuela di Gropello, lead author of the report.

According to Sato from the World Bank, this reform agenda is critical to meeting public demand for a higher performing education system and building a sustainable foundation for development in middle-income Viet Nam.

The report is the result of collaboration between the World Bank, the United Kingdom's Department of International Development and the Belgium Development Co-operation. — VNS

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