Gender equity in Vietnam Education
So far Education in Viet Nam has achieved significant results. However, gender
equity in education remains an issue to be discussed.
Fully aware of the importance of gender equality in education, in 1990, at the
World Conference on Education in Jomtien (Thailand), the Vietnamese Government
signed international commitment to adopt the World Declaration on Education for All in
the Decade 1990-2000. In April 2000, at the International Education Forum in Dakar
(Senegal), 160 nations endorsed the Dakar Framework of Actions.
The Vietnamese Government adopted the National Plan of Action on Education for
All in July 2, 2003 with the aim to ensure that by 2015 all children, especially girl children
in areas of difficult circumstances and ethnic minority groups can access to and
accomplish compulsory education with high quality; reduce sex imbalance in primary and
secondary education in 2005 and achieve gender equity by 2015.
Vietnamese government has made great efforts in making a country with more than
90% of illiterate people in 1945 to 93,5% of population from 15 year olds literate. It was a
remarkable achievement. However, findings from literacy analysis show that the literate
rate is varied according to areas and regions in the age group of 15 – 35. For example, in
socio- economic developing area like Red River Delta, the differences is not noticeable,
while in the areas with difficult circumstances the differences are big, although they have
been slightly reduced in comparison to the past.
Over the past years, education scope rapidly increased reflecting in the increase of
schooling enrolment at right ages at all education levels. However, from gender
perspectives, the differences in girls and boys schooling at pri mary levels are not
noticeable, but differences are bigger correlative to higher levels.
According to gender study findings of the Asia Development Bank (ADB): the girl
schooling rate to primary level at right ages (6-10) of the groups of 20% households
having poorest income per capita only reach to 83.8%, while this rate in boys is 89.1%.
This rate in the groups of 20% households having richest in come per capita reaches to
98.5% compared to boys rate at 96.9%. Thus sex differences in the two income groups are
diverged, e.g. in the poor households the rate differences 5.3%, while this rate is only 1.6
% in the better off households, even the girl schooling rate is higher than that of boys.
At the secondary level the sex differences are bigger: household group with poorest
income – the rate is 12.3%, while the household group with richest income – the rate is
only 2%. The evidence shows that in the poor households, when deciding the children
education, girls always suffer from disadvantages (Table 1).
Table 1: The schooling enrolment rate at right age at secondary level, diverged
to groups of income
20% of reachest 98.8
Group of income Group IV 93
GRoup III 93.7
Group II 84.5
20% of the poorest 80.5
0 20 40 60 80 100 120
The rate of schooling at right ages male The rate of schooling at right ages female
Geographically, gender differences are varied according to areas and regions. To the
primary level, Tay Nguyen has biggest gender difference – 9.9% and Mekong River Delta
the rate is 4.2%, while this rate in the northern mountainous areas is lowest – 0.4%/. To
the secondary level, gender differences are more obvious. Northern mountainous areas
have biggest difference in the schooling rate at right ages is 9%, while Red River Delta
has lowest rate at 2.3%.
Gender differentiates from urban to rural area. In urban areas, the girl-schooling
rate at right ages is higher than that of boy at 2.4%, while in rural areas girl schooling age
is lower than that of boys at 2.7%. This difference among Kinh group is 1.4% and among
ethnic minority groups is higher at 4.6%. At the secondary level, gender differences are
more obvious, where the rates in the Kinh and ethnic minority groups are 5% and 13.4%
respectively (Table 2).
Table 2: The schooling enrolment rate at right age at secondary level among
89.6 90.6 90.2
Kinh Hoa others
The facts have shown that disadvantages faced by girl children at primary
education and backward biases to them have formed the irrational structure of labour
sectors to women. About 70% female labourers mass on agriculture, forestry and fishery.
The rate of women`s participation in management and leadership in every sector is low,
even in the sectors like textile and services where women labourers occupy high
percentage. A number of sectors require high professional and technical skills and sharp
management capacity, but women still not meet to these demands.
It needs to mainstream gender in policies, strategies and practical activities to
achieve gender equity, specifically:
- Enhancement of local authorities` direction in the activities for the advancement of
women and gender equity in education.
- Increase of public awareness in gender.
- Promulgation of supportive policies for girl children, particularly for children of ethnic
minority groups, poor families and difficult economic areas.
- Promotion of gathering and analysing gender information to serve a foundation for
assessment of gender equity implementation in education.
Extract from paper of Dr. Do Thi Bich Loan
Institute for Strategy and Education Programme
Ministry of Education and Training