The current state of English education in Vietnam and potential solutions to reduce educational disparities in the country

The preference given to employees who speak English proficiently has no longer been an abnormal practice in Vietnam’s current 4.0 revolution, instigated by the increasing shifting of manufacturing facilities and business locations of international companies to this country. As a result, there has been a recent increase in funding and investment in foreign language education, specifically in English. This is thanks to the growing interest from both the government and households in this area of development. The Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam also shows a strong focus on this field by annually publishing data on English high school graduation test scores. This data, along with real survey reports on the learning conditions of students in provinces and cities with low average scores, can be used to analyze the current state of Vietnamese students’ English learning. It is evident that due to disparities in income, tuition costs, quality of education, and parental support, there is a growing inequality in accessing English learning for disadvantaged student groups. What is even more concerning is that many educational policies further worsen this imbalance, such as giving precedence to international English credentials when applying to local universities. Reducing inequality is the aim of various programs and policies that the government and social organizations have been trying to put into place. However, these undertakings are costly, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. One potential alternative to tackle this inequality is through student-led volunteer initiatives that aim to provide free English classes to underprivileged students – an easy and effective short-term option that has not been commonly applied by young people from major urban locations. One advantage of this approach is that student leaders can easily form clubs, groups, and projects by coming together. They have had access to English from an early age, allowing them to speak and express in English fluently, even though they may lack certain teaching training. This remedy has been implemented by myself and my friends through the Wise Worm project – a project that aims to teach English to underprivileged students. Our initial steps have made some contributions to narrowing inequality, but the project still requires support from businesses and social organizations in terms of finance and communication to expand and bring benefits to more students from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the United Nations calls for sustainable development goals, it is crucial to prioritize education in creating equality for everyone, especially vulnerable groups.