Introducing a tool to gauge curriculum quality under Sustainable Development Goal 4: The case of primary schools in Vietnam


The purposes of the study presented in this article were twofold. One was to respond to the question: what makes a quality curriculum? within the framework of the fourth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4). The other was to develop and pilot an appropriate instrument to evaluate the quality of curricula in a sample of private schools in Vietnam. While public schools are still preparing for implementation of Vietnam’s New General Educational Curriculum, small adjustments are already being made to the curriculum in some private and international schools in Vietnam, which have been issued a curriculum customisation licence. Therefore, the pilot schools which participated in this study can serve as case studies for the upcoming major policy improvement in Vietnam’s public schools, thus providing guidance for Vietnamese policymakers, school principals and teachers. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” curriculum assessment formula, since each country exhibits distinctive features in its teaching and learning programme, the indicators developed by the authors for their study can be adjusted to suit the needs of other countries.


Introduction d’un outil pour mesurer la qualité d’un curriculum à l’aune du quatrième Objectif de développement durable: le cas des écoles primaires au Viêt Nam – L’étude présentée dans cet article avait deux objectifs. Le premier était de se demander, à l’aune du quatrième Objectif de développement durable (ODD 4), ce qui fait qu’un curriculum est de bonne qualité. Le second consistait à développer et tester un outil approprié pour évaluer la qualité des curriculums dans un échantillon d’écoles privées au Viêt Nam. Tandis que les écoles publiques continuent de se préparer à la mise en œuvre du nouveau curriculum d’enseignement général du Viêt Nam, certains établissements privés et internationaux du pays, qui ont obtenu pour lui un permis de customisation, procèdent déjà à de petits ajustements. Par conséquent, les écoles pilotes qui ont participé à cette étude peuvent servir d’étude de cas pour l’importante amélioration politique à venir dans les écoles publiques vietnamiennes, fournissant ainsi une orientation aux décideurs politiques, aux directeurs d’école et aux enseignants. Bien qu’il n’existe pas de formule universelle d’évaluation des curriculums, les programmes d’enseignement et d’apprentissage des différents pays ne présentant pas les mêmes caractéristiques, les indicateurs élaborés par les auteurs de cette étude peuvent être adaptés aux besoins d’autres pays.

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  1. 1.

    Target 4.A aims to “Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all” (UN 2015a, Targets and Indicators). Target 4.C aims to “substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states” by 2030 (ibid.).

  2. 2.

    “The curriculum currently in use [in the Republic of Korea] was fully revised in 2015 and will be fully applied on an annual basis by 2020” (Korean MoE 2019, p. 40).

  3. 3.

    The International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) are two international school leaving certificates. “The former was developed in the mid-1990s and is currently being relaunched in a 21st-century approach. The latter programme of study was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations in 1985 and has become popular in recent years among British domestic and international schools worldwide due to the clarity of its learning content” (Corlu 2014, p. 793).

  4. 4.

    The acronym CIS stands for Council of International Schools.

  5. 5.

    We go into more detail about rubrics later in the article. For now, in a nutshell, a rubric refers to “a set of instructions or rules” (OUP n.d.).

  6. 6.

    Formative assessment refers to ongoing assessment throughout the school year, while summative assessment refers to end-of-year assessment.

  7. 7.

    The detailed rubric is available from the authors upon request.

  8. 8.

    0 represents non-fulfilment; 4 represents full marks.

  9. 9.

    The Vietnamese national diploma is the certificate students receive when they pass the National High School Graduation Examination in their last year (grade 12) of upper secondary school.


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Correspondence to Anh-Duc Hoang.

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Hoang, AD., Pham, HH., Nguyen, YC. et al. Introducing a tool to gauge curriculum quality under Sustainable Development Goal 4: The case of primary schools in Vietnam. Int Rev Educ 66, 457–485 (2020).

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  • Curriculum evaluation
  • Sustainable Development Goal 4
  • Kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) education
  • Education in Vietnam