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People and Society, Education

schools of higher education, Thai Nguyen, mass education, Vladimir Lenin, Communist society

For centuries, education in Vietnam was based on the Confucian system practiced in China. Young males studied classical Confucian texts in preparation for taking civil service examinations. Those who passed the exams were eligible for positions in the bureaucracy. The French introduced Western schooling, although few students received training beyond the elementary level, and literacy rates were low.

Major advances in education occurred after the division of Vietnam in 1954. The South adopted an education system based on the United States model, which emphasizes the development of an individualís talents and skills. The North introduced mass education and trained people for participation in a Communist society based on the political theories of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. After reunification in 1975 the Communist system used in the North was extended throughout the country, although technology training is now as important as teaching Communist ideology.

About 97 percent of the population age 15 and over is literate. Education is free and is compulsory for 5 years of primary school. Nearly all children receive primary schooling. Less than half of young Vietnamese receive a secondary education, however, partly because there is a shortage of adequate facilities, particularly in the mountainous areas.

In 1993 the government reorganized higher education to improve the systemís overall ability to educate students in the principles of a market economy and train them to meet the changing needs of the labor market. In 1998-1999 just 11 percent of the people of relevant age were expected to attend schools of higher education. Major universities are located in Hanoi, Hue, Thai Nguyen, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City, and the provincial capitals have smaller institutes.

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