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Family, community -based social capital and educational attainment during the doi moi process in Viet Nam

Thanh Van Duong, University of Massachusetts Amherst


We still have a limited understanding of the factors leading to the large differences in educational attainment in the developing world. This empirical study attempted to gain a better understanding of educational attainment in developing countries by examining social factors in order to determine whether or not family- and community-based social capital affect Vietnamese students' educational attainment during the on-going renewal (doi moi) process in Viet Nam. The research design combined quantitative and qualitative methods in order to understand the complex factors associated with students' educational attainment. I conducted a survey in 360 households of six villages in the Me Linh district, Vinh Phuc province, Viet Nam, from March to September 2001. In addition, I used strategies to capture a range of ethnic, gender and rural variations. Descriptive statistics together with model testing from the surveys of households, teachers and community members, along with interpretive data from informal discussions and focus group interviews, situated the empirical analyses in a socio-cultural context. This study's central hypothesis is that family and community social capital increases students' educational attainment. The study examined the three types of capital within the family: financial capital, human capital and social capital. Using the logistic regression model I found that the mother's and the father's educational levels and the interaction between parents and children positively influenced the school attendance of children. The analyses of variances (ANOVA) also indicated that family social capital is important to the process of educational attainment, i.e. school attendance and educational achievement. Family social capital, combined with financial and human capital, has added a great deal to the educational attainment for children in Me Linh district. This study goes beyond the traditional status attainment model which concentrates heavily on socioeconomic status. Given the context of the current renewal in Viet Nam, social capital formation was found to be context specific in this study. Significantly, interpretive data revealed that poor children in rural areas of Viet Nam encountered a variety of problems related to economic constraints, household responsibilities, culture, and inadequate support on the part of schools and communities at large. Some of the problems identified were: rising cost of education, lack of access to educational resources, and irrelevance of education for ethnic minority children. This research offers several recommendations, such as: (1) Reinforcing the partnership web of family, community and family through educational policies; (2) Narrowing the gap between children from poor and non-poor families in their access to educational resources; (3) Developing strategies to improve the quality of education for all children in Viet Nam, especially for ethnic minority children.

Subject Area

Social studies education|Social structure|Social research

Recommended Citation

Duong, Thanh Van, "Family, community -based social capital and educational attainment during the doi moi process in Viet Nam" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3118293.