Assessment of the GPOBA-supported Vietnam Upper Secondary Education Project
This research assessed the impact of a three-year project that used an output-based aid (OBA) approach to increase disadvantaged Vietnamese students’ access to private and vocational upper secondary education. The project was designed to test whether the OBA approach would increase these students’ enrollment and continuation rates as well as their post-graduation opportunities.
The program was funded by the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA), an initiative of the World Bank, and was implemented by East Meets West. It took place between 2010-2013 and aimed to enroll approximately 7,500 students in 12 provinces. The research involved both quantitative and qualitative assessments.
Upper secondary education is not guaranteed in much of Vietnam; students must pass an exam to enter public upper secondary schools, which have a nominal tuition. Low-income students are less likely to pass these exams – due in part to their need to work outside of school, leaving them little time to study and their inability to afford extra private classes attended by a majority of students. Thus, their only options are private upper secondary schools or vocational schools, which most can ill afford to attend. The GPOBA project sought to increase enrollment of disadvantaged students in these schools by subsidizing their tuition – paid directly to the schools – after independent verification of attendance and the student achieving a minimum grade point average.
A beneficiary assessment of the project conducted by Results for Development Institute (R4D) found that the project had a positive impact on improving the attendance, enrollment and academic performance of poor and disadvantaged students in upper secondary education, and reducing their chances of dropping out. Of all the students interviewed, 64% pursued higher education; the majority of vocational school students who were interviewed obtained jobs related to their particular field. The assessment also showed that the project increased student motivation and effort, and improved the affordability of upper secondary education for families. There was also strong demand for continuing the project among the beneficiaries.
Researchers also identified possible areas for improvement, including providing some of the subsidies to the schools earlier in the year to reduce their financial burden, and engaging provincial and national ministries in the process to a greater extent in order to increase the likelihood of government scale-up.