​Grass is often greener on the other side

Hardly a week goes by without a Vietnamese parent telling me if they can afford it they’ll send their children to be educated abroad and the U.S. is the first country they usually mention. For many Vietnamese families it’s a status symbol to send their children abroad to study, thus assuring a higher level of technical formation. In the U.S. alone there are over 20,000 Vietnamese students, most enrolled at undergraduate level. Now take a look at this chart produced by the World Bank indicating TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) scores by country based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Most of the data plotted follows the trend we would expect – i.e. the richest countries produce the highest scoring students, but there is one exception: Vietnam stands alone on the left side as a low-GDP country whose students score high on the TIMSS tests. How can that be? There have been many studies similar to the World Bank one above conducted by organizations worldwide and they all lead to a similar result where Vietnam is concerned, to such degree that a common term has surfaced for this phenomenon: “The Vietnam effect”. Simply put, Vietnamese students study harder, persevere more, work closely with their teachers, and their parents are heavily involved in their studies and school life in general. Institutions have less money to spend on computers but plenty of access to the internet, so resources are leveraged and shared among students. Does that surprise you? It doesn’t… [Read full story]


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