Pragmatizing Schools: A History of Vocational Training in Colonial Vietnam


Tran Thi Phuong Hoa

French Colonial History, Vol. 19 (2020), pp. 111-162

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Abstract: Traditionally, Vietnamese people despised manual labor and instead greatly respected the literati, who occupied the first rank in the Confucian social hierarchy. The first professional schools opened in Vietnam in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were met with indifference by the local population. To promote vocational training, the French authorities diversified their educational offerings to include official schools, schools of apprenticeship, museums, exhibitions, and increased technical instruction in the curricula. This new type of education changed the social perception of “intellectuals” when it broadened the concept of the “elite” to include these new, better-paid workers, who were able to enjoy better economic and social status than traditionally accorded to the “ordinary working class,” and who believed that this type of education had been of great benefit to them.

About the author: Tran Thi Phuong Hoa was a HYI Visiting Fellow from 2008-09 and a HYI Visiting Scholar from 2014-15.