Vietnam’s disadvantaged kids outperform Indian students in education survey

Even the most disadvantaged children in Vietnam are educationally years ahead of their peers in India, according to new study.

The report (summary here), “Making Progress: report of the Young Lives School Survey in Vietnam”  is based on a  survey conducted by the Young Lives project, a longitudinal study of childhood poverty following the lives of 12,000 children in Ethiopia, India (in the state of Andhra Pradesh), Peru and Vietnam over 15 years.

Even though India and Vietnam are extremely close in per capita income, ranking 126th and 128th respectively, the survey reports that 47 per cent of Indian 10-year-olds are unable to add two-digit numbers while 95 per cent of 10-year-olds in Vietnam could add four-digit numbers. The study points to poor teaching practices in classrooms as the main reason for why many students in India are still not learning, even when they regularly attend class. It also points out that the poorest Indian children were more likely to be in schools with relatively high levels of absenteeism among teachers, while the social or financial situation of a Vietnamese child’s family seems to have little effect on the child’s quality of education and their study.

The consequences are vital for both economies.

“With many emerging economies having more than 40% of their population below the age of 25 (for example Vietnam, India and South Africa), and in some cases the proportion being more than six in 10 (for example Ethiopia, Angola and Rwanda), failure to deliver quality education will thwart ambitions for future development,” said Professor Jo Boyden, who led the research.

In addition, the study draws attention on the importance of focusing on children’s learning in the early years as the gaps between groups of children are well established by Grade 5. 

Parima Panpruet

Parima Panpruet is an intern at the Development Policy Centre.

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