Vietnamese spend $3.4bn yearly on foreign education: minister

Financially capable families often refuse to let hefty price tags stand in the way of sending their children overseas for education

Phung Xuan Nha, Vietnamese Minister of Education and Training, speaks before of the lawmaking National Assembly during a Q&A session on June 6, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha revealed to the National Assembly on Wednesday that Vietnamese people spend around US$3.4 billion annually on oversea education despite government efforts to improve the country’s educational system.

Nha cited the unofficial figure during a meeting of the country’s lawmaking National Assembly where he fielded questions from legislators regarding his scope of governance.

“As in other developing countries, families in Vietnam want to send their children to more developed nations where they can receive better education,” the minister shared.

Unofficial statistics show that Vietnamese people spend around $3.4 billion annually on overseas education, including tuition fees and other costs associated with living abroad, Nha said.

“Those are only estimates, but you can imagine how immense the number is. What we want to do is develop an education system at home that’s just as good as those found abroad so that financially capable families can invest locally in their children’s education,” he said in his address.

There are around 150,000 Vietnamese enrolled in overseas education programs at different levels, 90 percent of whom are self-financed, the official Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reported in January.

The U.S., Australia, the UK, Canada and Japan are among top destinations for Vietnamese students studying abroad, according to the same source.

According to Minister Nha, 20 percent of Vietnam’s state budget is reserved for national education programs, a priority consistently topping the list for policy makers.

The education minister said he welcomes the participation of the private sector in developing a quality education system in Vietnam.

“Participation from different economic sectors has been proven to be a model for success in many countries, including South Korea and China,” he added.

Nha said the state budget can only do so much to ensure fundamental education from all citizens and the import of top-flight education programs must be left in the trusted hands of private investors.

Vietnam is expected to draft several policies in the near future aimed at encouraging the private sector to invest in education, he said.

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