K-12 Vietnam children
Kindergarden children paint at a school in Hanoi, Vietnam. In 2015, Vietnamese students were ranked 12th in the world for maths and science, compared with Finland at number 6. Source: Shutterstock

While the weather, system of government and culture are worlds apart, the education system of Communist Vietnam is drawing influence and inspiration from the liberal democratic countries of Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

The Southeast Asian nation’s education minister Phung Xuan Nha this week completed a study trip to the Nordic nations, where he learnt more about their approach to education programmes from the primary to tertiary level.

Officials from Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training said that a range of values in mainstream education in the three countries were shared by Vietnam’s upgraded “philosophy of education”, reported Tuoi Tre News.

Finnish students have consistently performed among the world’s best in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings in recent years.

Vietnam’s performance in PISA has improved immensely, already outperforming many western countries, with the government investing a huge portion of government expenditure into its education system.

In 2015, Vietnamese students were ranked 12th in the world for maths and science, compared with Finland at number 6.


Students in their classroom in Helsinki, Finland. Source: Shutterstock

Some 18 memoranda of understanding were signed between Vietnamese and Finnish schools during the course of the ministerial visit regarding teacher training and online education, while in Denmark 17 were signed on medical and geological teaching and research.

Tuoi Tre reports that Vietnam’s 2019 education reforms will “empower teachers and students with more freedom and autonomy, while emphasising experimental and creative activities at school.”

Minister Phung is reportedly in talks with his counterparts around acquiring rights to publish Finnish educational materials for a variety of subjects.

According to VN Express, Finnish high schools will be opening for students in the major urban centres of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the near future.

Earlier this year, the Vietnamese ministry made English a compulsory subject from grade three onwards, starting in 2018.

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