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Lecture | LIAS Lunch Talk Series

The Politics of Education in Contemporary Vietnam

Thursday 5 October 2023

1.04 (Verbarium)


Globally, Vietnam is a contemporary outlier in basic education, having achieved rapid gains in enrolment and strong learning outcomes at relatively low levels of income. This presentation shows that beyond such felicitous conditions as economic growth and social historical and cultural elements that valorize education, Vietnam’s distinctive combination of Leninist political commitments to education and high levels of societal engagement in the education system often works to enhance accountability within the system in ways that contribute to the system’s coherence around learning; reflecting the sense and reality that Vietnam is a country in which education is a first national priority. Importantly, these alleged elements exist alongside other features that significantly undermine the system’s coherence and performance around learning. These include, among others, the system’s incoherent patterns of decentralization, the commercialization and commodification of schooling and learning, and corresponding patterns of systemic inequality. The presentation will also address challenges Vietnam faces in post-secondary education. 

About the speaker

Jonathan D. London is Associate Professor of Political Economy - Asia at the Leiden Institute of Area Studies. His research interests span the fields of comparative political economy, development studies, and the political economy of welfare and inequality. Fluent in Vietnamese, London is sole editor of The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Vietnam (2023), author of Welfare and Inequality in Marketizing East Asia (2018), a comparative study of 10 countries, and has edited two other Vietnam-focused volumes. London has served as an analyst for such international organizations as UNDP, UNICEF, and OXFAM. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin.

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