At the beginning of the project, primary school education—with an enrollment rate of 86 percent nationally and much lower in poor and minority communities—was still far from universal. Vietnam needed to address the quality of its education system as well as its reach.
The Education Project focused on five provinces—Yen Bai, Hanoi, Thanh Hoa, Quang Nam, and Vinh Long—in order to bring more children to school and improve the quality of the education by:
- providing more and better school books, teaching aids and curriculum standards
- building and rehabilitating classrooms
- improving management of the primary education system with education management information systems and student performance measurement
Net primary school enrollment rate increased from 86 percent in 1993 to 95 percent in 2002. Completion rates rose from 75.8 percent to 83 percent. Drop-out rates went down and the participation of children from ethnic minorities increased in the five provinces.
- Some 7,000 primary classrooms were built or renovated and new sanitary and water supply facilities were added.
- Textbooks were supplied to grade one students in approximately 2,300 communes across 52 provinces.
- Every school in Vietnam was supplied with a complete set of simple teaching aids.
- 250 teachers and 50 educators were trained in bilingual education instruction. Bilingual education was introduced in eight remote mountainous provinces.
- A single curriculum is now the standard in Vietnam, compared to three distinct curricula for primary education previously.
- Ministry of Education’s capacity to plan, execute and supervise civil works and to produce and distribute textbooks has improved notably.
- US$70 million in financing, covering total project costs.
- IDA focused on quality and equity (including support for building teachers’ professional standards and targeting disadvantaged districts and ethnic minorities). It also focused on a small set of critical results: learning outcomes in grade 5, enrollment and completion rates and teacher performance.
- IDA played an active role in donor coordination through a harmonized reporting and monitoring system with other education sector bilateral donors.
- During project preparation, IDA helped analyze the main challenges holding back primary education in Vietnam, particularly among ethnic minority groups.
Many innovations introduced under the project have been picked-up by the government and supported in subsequent projects.
- For example, multi-grade teaching and professional development for principals is being implemented in a Primary Teacher Development Project and expanded into a comprehensive program in 10 provinces. This defines expected teacher competency levels and builds capacity towards their achievement. A new national assessment cycle is also financed from this project.
- The Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children Project formalizes many of the project’s pilot activities into a comprehensive package that defines a basic set of requirements known as Fundamental School Quality Level.