Improving Higher Education in Vietnam

While Vietnam has seen a gradual boost in young Vietnamese citizens attending college, the numbers for higher education in Vietnam have been irregular from year to year. In 2017, Vietnam partnered with the World Bank in order to create plans to improve its educational status for students wishing to attend college and vocational training establishments.

College enrollment in Vietnam has amplified significantly since the late 1990s and early 2000s. Vietnam’s higher education enrollment went from just 10 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2005, rising even higher to 25 percent in 2013. Vietnam saw its highest college enrollment status for both sexes in 2014, at a whopping 30 percent. However, in 2015, the rate for tertiary school attendance fell to 28 percent.

Vietnam has produced durable objectives for a college education by creating the Education Development Strategic Plan for the years 2008 to 2020, as well as the Higher Education Reform Agenda. USAID has partnered with Vietnamese universities and private divisions to invigorate higher education in Vietnam.

USAID collaborates with Harvard Medical School, Harvard Ash Center and Arizona State University, along with three universities in each region of Vietnam to restore the health personnel, STEM curriculums and any ongoing or subsequent demands that the higher educational system faces. Through these plans, Vietnam has seen quality advances in educational performance, literacy and opportunities for educational growth.

The country has also seen an immense request for more vocational and job training options. ICEF Monitor reports that in order for Vietnam to see economic growth, it needs to boost its employment ability rates by at least 50 percent. Industrial employment opportunities are growing in Vietnam as the country continues to build its technical job options in infrastructure. The Asian Development Bank is acknowledging Vietnam’s struggles in job training and is providing reform projects and contributing building resources.

In May 2017, the World Bank approved $155 million in financing to bolster research, teaching and the institutional quantity of three sovereign collegiate academies. The funding will help to improve Vietnam’s higher learning institutes. According to the World Bank’s website, the plan will have a positive impact on over 150,000 students and 3,900 faculty representatives.

The schools receiving the funding are Vietnam’s National University of Agriculture, the University of Science & Technology and the Industry University of Ho Chi Minh City. Aside from these three prominent institutions, around 600,000 students and 27,000 administrators and professors from other colleges will have the chance to expand their learning assets by being granted access to digital learning environments and libraries through the National Economics University.

Higher education in Vietnam is on the right track to continue providing opportunities and job training for its citizens that wish to create a better country through optimistic and thriving learning environments. Vietnam still has a long road ahead of it to provide higher educational access to everyone, but the current programs and resources provided to college students show a positive change for Vietnam’s future college scholars.

– Rebecca Lee

Photo: Flickr


Though for-profit businesses have taken a hit in years past, crippled by downsizing and high unemployment rates, the nonprofit sector continues to shine. As the third-largest workforce in the U.S., many aspiring college graduates are gravitating toward injustice-fighting and social change-fostering employment opportunities. For university students specifically wanting to join the international fight against poverty, consider these often neglected majors below.

  1. Philosophy: Despite its reputation for being “impractical” or “frou-frou,” studying anything from Plato to existentialism will refine some well-needed job skills. Employers continue to deem an analytic and creative mindset as crucial to a collaborative work environment. And who knows? Perhaps in that brain of yours, sitting right next to Karl Marx’s ideologies, you have an interesting solution to youth unemployment.
  1. History: Reading about Gilgamesh and pouring over original documents could earn you a kick-butt job kicking poverty’s butt. Learning the historical context of political discord, jihadist movements or religious traditions will foster cultural awareness. Plus, the old adage of history repeating itself if gone unlearned must have some truth to it.
  1. Sociology: Understanding contemporary social issues and having a sociological imagination will not only please C. Wright Mills but also prospective employers. That SOC 235 Social Problems course could prove helpful when discussing the general U.S. opinion on foreign aid policy. The communication and number crunching skills will also impress.
  1. English: This degree will raise some eyebrows in the College of Business; however, Longfellow can jumpstart a philanthropic career. Being able to communicate, both out loud and on paper, is something few prospective employees can do. Plus, any grant writing experience will be considered a godsend by the director of fundraising development.
  1. Sustainability Studies: If windmills and solar panels are your thing, consider an interdisciplinary major that combines ecology and the humanities. Though environmentally-conscious nonprofits are popping up like mad, your background knowledge may offer solutions to water sanitation problems or food deserts for poverty-driven organizations.
  1. Theatre: After suffering through family dinners talking about the “future” and long nights of play practice, a thespian could make the nonprofit sector their stage. Confidence and an engaging persona are key when lobbying or birddogging for the cause. Online broadcasting, whether it be in podcast or video form, is also a great way to spread awareness.
  1. Women and Gender Studies: Delving into the racial and ethnic nuances of the patriarchy could actually have life-changing implications in the nonprofit sector. Taking humanities courses in anything from sociology to political science will shed some light on the feminism of poverty. And with organizations such as U.N. Women dedicated to solving just that, you will definitely find a niche.
  1. Graphic Design: Sans-serifs and color swatches may prove useful when perusing for job openings. When it comes to beautifying a website or creating an eye-catching advertisement, few have the expertise. From collaborating with a nonprofit’s communications specialist to creating a monthly newsletter, all you artsy grads will come in handy.
  1. Journalism: In the wake of recent cutbacks, digital news sites for nonprofit organizations are exploding across the U.S. From Color Lines in New York to our own Borgen Magazine in Seattle, an increasing number of “do-good” groups are recognizing the power of media. If composing a piece about Syrians living in abject poverty sounds up your alley, jump on the journalism bandwagon.
  1. International Studies: Though not for the foreign language-avoiding liberal arts undergraduate, this interdisciplinary major allows students to adopt a global view. Political science courses, study abroad and lots of broken Spanish could translate into a foreign relations position. Many nonprofits, especially those with a worldwide focus, need a multilingual and culturally-aware employee.

While stemming away from STEM majors may cause for a few disgruntled parents or skeptical classmates, nonprofit jobs can offer recent graduates a satisfying career. From thespians turned lobbyers to history buffs turned fundraising directors, the possibilities are limitless.

Lauren Stepp

Sources: NY Times, Urban Institute, Washington State University
Photo: Flickr

“I believe poverty is not an inherent part of society, but can be overcome if everyone works to achieve it.”-Jessica Beck.

Jessica Beck is the founder of FIU TECHO, a branch of the Techo organization at Florida International University. Techo is an international non-profit organization provides humanitarian aid to the poor citizens of Latin America and the Caribbean.  The focus is to educate the residents on how to implement long lasting solutions to the issues of education, malnutrition, poverty, and corruption.

One Techo branch at Florida International University is participating in the Wynwood Miami Art Walk, a local artist event held the second Saturday every month. The Techo letters will be found along the walk and members can write down their hopes and goals towards ending global poverty and making the lives of others so much better. Notoriously broke, college students participating for Techo in the Art Walk are proving that anyone can make an impact – no matter how little people think they might have to give.

Sustainable development means formulating economic and environmental growth policies that don’t detract from environmental health, meaning they will be successful policies in the long run. Societies can’t function on infrastructures that are not environmentally sound because eventually the negative consequences of those policies will force the society to restructure yet again.

Founded in 1997, Techo is a Latin American non-profit organization focusing on providing aid to people living in slums through volunteers working with families struggling with extreme poverty. The organization uses an ‘implementation’ method that targets community development. The Non profit’s fundraising headquarters are in Miami, Florida and it is lead by young volunteers. Volunteers are present in 19 countries including Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

Recruitment for volunteers takes place exclusively in college universities, and the organization actively seeks contribution from people less than or equal to 30 years of age. Students with a strong passion for humanitarian work are targeted in the hopes that their dedication will enhance their work. Experience with working in slums helps to qualify volunteers to pursue a professional career in global relief and poverty reduction. The way that Techo works is a mutual effort between volunteers and slum residents. Residents are reassigned houses based on severity of living conditions and are responsible for taking on 10% of the new home cost.

Funding comes from a variety of sources. The Boston Consulting Group and The Inter-American Development Bank are two of Techo’s main partners. Donators known as ‘techo friends’ are monthly financial contributors at a fixed rate. A donator giving 30 dollars a month can support a family that functions on one dollar per day. It is incredible the difference just one dollar can make and sheds light on the common misconception that global poverty is an impossible issue to solve. The condition is reminiscent of something Nelson Mandela once said – “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: FIU, Facebook, Techo

gerald Ford
Picture yourself: you are walking among a beautiful collection of distinguished brick buildings.  Snow covers the ground as you gaze upon the seemingly endless trees that dot the walkway.  You breathe a sigh of satisfaction and say to yourself “this is the perfect place to fight poverty.”

Welcome to the University of Michigan and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.  Located in Ann Arbor, MI (known affectionately as Tree Town, USA), U of M is one of the nation’s premiere public universities.  Many are familiar with the Michigan Wolverines football team, and their stadium, the “Big House,” that holds over 109,000 screaming fans.  However, one of the universities true gems is the Ford School.

Named in honor of former U.S. President Gerald Ford, a Michigan alumnus, the Ford School offers a B.A. in Public Policy for undergraduates in addition to a Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Administration for graduate students.  The school also has over 16 joint M.A. and PhD programs with other graduate programs in the university, including Economics, Political Science, and Sociology.

A stated strength of the Ford School is in combating poverty.  The National Poverty Center is housed in the Ford School and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The National Poverty Center trains students in poverty research, publishes briefs and analyses to be used in government forums, and runs national seminars to discuss issues of poverty.

In addition to poverty research, the Ford School is devoted to global development.  Students pursuing an M.P.P. spend the summer between their first and second year pursuing an internship directly related to policy issues.  27% of students complete their internships abroad, while 30% work in Washington D.C. for an internationally related program.  Additionally, the School houses the International Policy Center, which promotes interdisciplinary research in various global issues.

If you are interested in honing your skills in fighting global poverty, the Ford School of Public Policy may be the place for you.

– Taylor Diamond

Sources: Ford School of Public Policy, National Poverty Center

Fulfillment Fund Helps High Schoolers College
The Fulfillment Fund is an organization committed to helping young adults from low-income families enroll in higher education. The organization primarily focuses on communities within the Los Angeles area, reaching out to students who never considered college a possibility because of their family’s economic standing. The Fulfillment Fund has launched a number of programs and services for the youth of Los Angeles to help them receive the instruction, mentorship, and preparation necessary for higher education. A lot of the organization’s methods are geared toward redefining possibilities for high school students, since existing circumstances often undermine their abilities and achievements.

Some of the services provided by the Fulfillment Fund include classroom instruction, one-on-one mentoring, and college counseling. The partnership that the organization has established with high schools enables them to offer individual college advisement for students as early as their freshman year. In doing so, the Fulfillment Fund continually instills the idea of higher education in students’ minds throughout their entire high school career, making college a very real possibility.

Through the mentoring and counseling services, students have the option to meet one-on-one with advisors who develop a personal profile with each student, compiling lists of possible universities and lines of study. With the help of their sponsors, the Fulfillment Fund is able to offer scholarships to low-income students taking the step into higher education.

In 2012, 94 percent of students engaged in the Fulfillment Fund planned on attending college, compared to the 54 percent of students nationwide. The organization has also opened the door for first generation college students and their families across Los Angeles. Approximately 81 percent of Fulfillment Fund students are the first in their family to attend college. With the help of the organization, students are helping to end the poverty within their families and respective communities.

Every year, the Fulfillment Fund hosts a STARS Benefit Gala to honor select individuals and their contributions to the Fulfillment Fund mission. This year’s gala will be hosted by actor and comedian, Ed Helms, with a special performance by Pharrell Williams. The gala will honor founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, Chris Meledandri, who helped extend opportunities for students from low-income communities. This will be the 19th year of the STARS Benefit Gala and will be sure to draw more support for the fund’s mission of ending poverty through education.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Look to the Stars, The Fulfillment Fund
Photo: EXPLO

alternative spring break
Mid-March is coming. This is a special time of year that college students around America know as Spring Break. For many people, the words “Spring Break” trigger images of a wild party of hooligans drinking as if it were the end of the world, moshing about in an endless sea of lacrosse shirts and Oakley glasses. Many students will spend their spring breaks doing just that in Panama City, Daytona, and most of the state of South Carolina, but more and more students are doing something else during their week off.

The idea of an “alternative spring break” has been around for quite some time. These are usually programs that allow students to spend their week away from school helping victims of disasters and poverty around the country and the world. Many of these programs are led by local churches and other faith-based organizations and more and more student-run groups are being started to create rewarding, safe, and productive opportunities for American college students to volunteer their time. Hundreds of students are already helping rebuild homes and clear debris from Superstorm Sandy on the Jersey Coast while more will soon be on their way. Other groups have organized trips to help in schools and community centers around the Americas.

Alternative spring breaks became very popular after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the trend doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon. Seeing the nation’s young students getting involved in efforts to help the poor in our country and abroad is a fantastic sight, and is something to be thankful for. Volunteers in a multitude of organizations around the world continue to take all the little steps that make a real difference, and their importance cannot be understated.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: CBS
Photo: University of Pennsylvania