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15/11/2019 - 08:46

Education support for low-income groups

Abstract: Education is a unified process of personality's spiritual and physical forming, the process of socialization, oriented to historically conditioned and more or less fixed in social consciousness as social standards. According to that education is an integral part of social life, first of all, it is a social phenomenon.

Education, without bias, is important social value. The moral, intellectual, scientific, spiritual, cultural and economic potential of any society directly depends on education progress level. 

In the world today, with its fast-evolving, population growth, competition in and out of any country, to have a good education or at least having basic education is very vital in these days. Providing poor regions with good education gives every individual equal opportunity, at least to exits in this fast-changing and growing world of globalization, will help to manage people for a better life, broadens their outlook, gives them perspectives in their lives.   

Aim of this short work is to show current trends in supporting poor or population with low income in Vietnam, it describes what problems and obstacles exist in receiving education, and how to resolve them, because giving education for poor people can seriously improve their life, cause as we know certain person during studying process becomes familiar with  scientific, cultural, historical, artistic, architectural and other important  heritage which is  very important for joining word of science and culture, socialization of a certain person, providing of generation succession, cultural value's spreading, providing and saving of natural tradition, actively stimulating cultural changes in social life.      

Education is a very important cultural spreading mean by the mastering of which person not only able for adaptation in the process of constant changing society but also obtain features to increase and enrich world civilization potential. That is why it is important to improve all groups of society with good and accessible education.


Vietnam still has many poor people living under the poverty line. They rely on agriculture, live in the remote mountainous area with very limited access to modern infrastructure, education and government and international aids, has low education level and skills. Their chance of getting out of poverty is even worse than the past as Vietnam continues to modernize the economy and thus they will be left even further behind.

In order to eradicate poverty in Vietnam, the government needs to improve labor productivity, keep investing in infrastructure to create more and better jobs, especially for the export-oriented manufacturing industry. It is also recommended to target poor households more intensively with a combination of changing farmland use towards profitable crops, strengthening land user rights, providing microfinance, improving skills while at the same securing their subsistence. Most important of all is to reform the education system for equal opportunity of poor and non-poor, preparing the young generations for off-farm opportunities which offer more stable income.

That article shortly describes problems of education for people with low income and policy of Vietnam to support people with low income so they can have equal opportunity to study and improve the quality of their life.

Problems in education for people with low income

The main problems for providing low-income groups with education are access to good quality education, lack of time for studying, problems with infrastructure, economical inequality, etc. These elements are closely coherent together because access to good and free quality education could give a chance for better job opportunity, creation sustainable family institutions, cause future parents will have enough money for existence and support their children so they could have time for studying instead of working, helping their family alongside to grown-ups to survive. Besides observing policies and education standards first we have to attract our attention o these key features because they are closely connected to low-income group education support.   

Lack of time is one of the factors which defines how a child involved in education for example also is has a direct influence on dropout's rate. Lack of time for education mostly concentrated on the problem that children have to work alongside to their parents for example if it is a rural area children don't have time to learn well or learn at all because they have to work in the field of plantation alongside to their parents and other members their family or community. 

Because of extreme poverty, children often must work before and after school to support their family, usually by peddling something, working in factories, and offering other goods and services. 

Here is one example of a person who is now part of the problem resolving member  Nguyen Thi Be Hong, grade 8, An Phu district, An Giang province: “Because my family is very poor, my parents had planned to let me stay at home to support them. My parents wanted me to drop out of school to save costs for my brothers to be able to continue studying. Fortunately, I received a scholarship from the Asia Foundation. I was so happy and moved to be able to go to school with my friends again".

Although primary schools in Vietnam are officially free, parents are responsible for expenditures such as textbooks, uniforms, transportation, etc. As for University level education, it costs 960 USD per year in Vietnam, is virtually impossible for poor families who typically earn less than 240 USD per year and depend on their children to contribute to total household income. 

The example indicates that some of the family members have to sacrifice himself or herself for the benefit of the family. And who will be the unable go to school and high school to get his chance in getting a better life and profession if she or he does not have support from outside, like scholarship mentioned above? 

Another problem that is also connected with lack of time factor is rural to urban migration. Village inhabitants  are going to major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh for better life alongside with their children despite high income compare to rural areas living expenses in cities are also high it has direct influence on schooling for children because for public education pupils still have to buy textbooks, uniform, and other items necessary for education, so sometimes children who came with their parents also have to work what leads to low performance in the class and dropout what puts children at risk to be on the bottom of society in the beginning of their life, having no perspective for future, good job and opportunity to sustain life.  We may tell it like a circle that can be torn from outside. 

Infrastructure Problem in education

There are two infrastructure problems in education for poor people. The first is transportation infrastructure is still remaining in some Vietnam's remote rural areas, children have to cross the rivers by boats or temporary bridges,  it is very risky and affects their education because the children have to spend their own power to overcome some obstacles like rivers or mountains to go to school. If a child is too small or weak, it will take him or her a lot of time, and also often passes schooling cause of these reasons that lead, again too bad performance, to failing during exams, no future, literally it is very hard when they cross the river.

Poor physical accessibility implies higher transport costs for inputs and outputs and hampers access to services like education and extension. Consequently, investments in roads and other transportation infrastructure to improve accessibility are expected to contribute to poverty alleviation in remote areas which can be a great support for students from poor families these measures can spare money and effort to get a good education for free.      

The second is a lack of infrastructure at school which makes it difficult to apply new curriculum material for students in order to give equal studying opportunities for all groups in the country. For example, national minorities, people with low income. Developed infrastructure has a direct connection to accessible education for people with low income because it involves public schooling which is subsidized but the government and gives an opportunity for poor students to gain their skills so they can have a better future.  

For example, The Education and Training Department in the Central Province of Phu Yen found at least three high schools with poor infrastructure that threaten the safety of students and staff. They concluded that degraded infrastructure in three high schools should be fixed urgently, according to their few months' surveys.  One of the school students says that the roof is leaking during rain what creates the risk of collapsing. Public schools are accessible for all income groups including poor students so that is why the problem also has to be solved as soon as possible, and the government does.

Another problem is ethnic minorities can say that that part concludes in itself all problems mentioned above. But it also has its own feature which also has a connection with support poor people with accessible education. In Vietnam, ethnicity is a key factor in the socio-cultural distance. Ethnicity is well seen among other things, mode of life traditions, other important features  such as language, religious affiliation and other cultural and other characteristics that may potentially influence the incidence of poverty and thus ethnic minorities are also in the group of people which in need of educational support to have equal opportunity with the rest people of Vietnam. As an example that poverty, low educated parents, low parental engagement in child’s education, school distance, the language of instruction which is Vietnamese, a language they do not speak, being bullied, teased, and induced to dropout were challenges to ethnic minority’s upper-secondary school.  Access and quality are still concerns for lower secondary education and quality is limited in remote areas. Accessing and completing education is a greater challenge for female students and ethnic minorities.     

There are also problems concerning public schools, for example, they are underfunded, at this time only primary schools are only partially financially supported by the government for about 50% of tuition cost. Not paying attention to high enrollment, education quality, especially in poor areas, is below stated standard. Moreover, drop-out rates dramatically increase after fifth grade particularly in rural and mountains area because to most students from these regions it is impossible to attend secondary school due to poverty and low income. According to Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs), many grown-up members of low income or poor think that child labor is preferred better than studying at school. So that leads to frequent school absenteeism low academic performance. For families with low income sending their children to school is considered to be a long term heavy burden and the future benefit of education cannot outweigh the short-term economic losses.

Teaching methods used in the public system are teacher-oriented. Class discussions are uncommon, and students are expected to be studious and passively absorb knowledge during the studying period. This method is a manifestation of Confucian culture and is a sharp contrast to American and British pedagogy, where interaction and debate are more prominent.

Another problem of quality is that high school students generally expected to attend additional courses which can go up totally to nine times per day. Children attend such tutoring sessions which are considered to be apart from upcoming tests and exams. Because of low income, teachers are made to combine their job as a private tutor to increase their wealth. It is a very big minus for students who do not attend such courses because unfortunately materials appearing on tests and exams are often covered only in tutoring sessions.

Population, exposed to the risk (in particular the poorest and ethnic minorities) continue to bear the negative outcome of such circumstances alongside increasing educational attainment inequality and poor student achievement. Educational Attainment and achievement closely complement each other. Notwithstanding limits of methodology, distinct evidence shows that certain characteristics of schools and teachers are significantly related to both educational outcomes. More and more children attend private classes. In the current situation, a family with normal income can afford private tutor and variations in access to private tuition.   

Children in lowland areas of Vietnam are at least eight times more likely to receive private tuition than children from highland areas. Children from non-poor families are four times more likely to take extra classes than very poor children. 

As we can see in chapter the problems of education for poor people has many sides, as poverty itself lack of opportunity, infrastructure, ethnic differences upon that question, problems with curriculum, all these problems have to be solved by government and reformation of schooling and social order, to create opportunity for equal education and chances for sustainable life for all Vietnamese citizens for better future economic growth. The next chapter will be devoted to a different kind of reformation in order to create equal chances for all. And eliminate these problems or at least diminish them.   

Educational policies for supporting group with low income

The literacy rate in the population increases year by year? First, we have to reveal in short the history of education.

For example, Vietnamese people used to use Chinese characters for inventing ancient Vietnamese scripture. Thanks to that, a number of valuable literature and historical material in ancient Vietnamese had been preserved.

From 1945 to 1954, French was mostly the dominant language and the language of instruction at the higher education level. With such an education system, 95% of Vietnamese people were illiterate, we can say it was a negative impact. As we can see that till the second part illiteracy was the main problem of Vietnam. But how has Vietnam reached today these outstanding real figures? Because back than Vietnam still was at the departure point of economical educational development processes. 

We have to concentrate on main and today policies that give equal opportunity to all groups of the population, most importantly on people with low income, or who have various difficulties to gain accessible education. 

The main policy introduced by Government President Ho Chi Minh states: "An illiterate nation is a powerless one". In response to the Government policies and President Ho Chi Minh’s call, there were, within less than a year, 75 thousand literacy classes with nearly 96 thousand teachers to help 2.5 million people get out of illiteracy. It was very for the first step. That policy is still the main course of supporting literacy among all population including low-income group because gives equal opportunity to attend educational institutions and have better chances for the future. The main principles of that policy are national, scientific, and popular, with major purpose to serve national ideas and democracy. The policy proved to be effective, among all education levels and target groups, expanding schools, helping in the reformation education system. 

The policy of Doi Moi was and is a very important step to eliminate poverty and provide quality education to people with low income in Vietnam. In order to do so the government needs to improve labor productivity, support remote rural areas, keep children away from child labor, or other sides of children exportation, like sexual abuse, the government has to keep investing in infrastructure to create more and better jobs,  especially for the export-oriented manufacturing industry. It is also recommended to target poor members of society more intensively with a combination of changing farmland use towards profitable crops, strengthening land user rights, providing microfinance, improving skills while at the same securing their subsistence. Most important of all is to reform the education system for equal opportunity of poor and non-poor, preparing the young generations for a better future for the future world. 

So according to this, we have also concentrated on the current situation of integrating policies in the modern world.

Vietnam is a developing country with a growing population of over 98 million people so it is imperative to give everyone in the society the equal opportunity to be able for successive life by accessible education for all groups of society as people of low income.  

We have to look at what is the current status of the education policy of Vietnam what other policies Vietnam has, for example, invested and are the problems which considered obstacles for successful bringing into life.

For support all group of students Vietnam government has the following education reformation steps:

 Universally improve early childhood education and care, ensure that all children including from poor families have proper development, physical, intellectual and emotional so they can enter primary school  

 Improve and maintain the quality of universal lower secondary education and pursue universal upper secondary education in economically disadvantaged localities like highlands rural areas helping children to get access to education.

 Pay more focused attention to ethnic minority boarding schools and provide inclusive education at all levels.

 Rethink and recreate the vocational education system, establish new colleges in response to modern needs, and ensure that students are equipped with the professional skills so in the future to be able to sustain own and family existence on proper level to support the economy drive of the country.

 Create more opportunities for non-public higher education and provide more university preparatory institutions for ethnic minorities and people with low income.

 Divide education into various forms and create life-long learning opportunities to continuously improve professional qualifications. 
As we can see that government have certain strategy steps for supporting all kind of students including those who can afford private schools and have to account for government support.

But government and educational investors are also encountering problems which have a negative influence on these such as corruption lack of transparency etc. Like for example corruption includes such level as government where money intended for schooling programs redistributed between certain people who have to be responsible for bringing education support for people with low-income policies into life, another time of bribery is parental , cause parents are offended want their children to attend the best school and good private tutor, the second can be eliminated by itself if to deal with the second one, the first kind of bribery seriously hinder the progress of any education policy dedicated to supporting children and students. The existence of corruption in educational environments has left large impacts on teaching quality at tertiary levels. The problem not only hinders the quality and quantity of education but also negatively impacts society as businesses and employers find that many college and university graduates are ill-prepared to compete in the real world.

Another problem is transparency especially for investment into education it makes difficult to invest in the educational sector. Thus, it is necessary to give the opportunity to improve the education problem for poor people in Vietnam.

Notwithstanding that the government spends more than 20 percent of the budget for education which is a lot amount of money. There are also scholarship programs for students to allow them to continue studying in high school. 


As we can see according to the article that it is a complex problem to support poor people with education and demand direct control of the government. The problem is not single and needs to be resolved by multiple reformations. It is very important to support all groups of society with education because education is a basis of the state basis of culture, basis for future, happiness and prosperity of the country. Thus, proper measures to be applied support every individual in society.  


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Wu Xiaorong, Tran Ngoc Uyen

(Faculty of education at Southwest University, Chong Qing 400715)