CDIS | Viet Nam's indicators

In Viet Nam, culture’s role in development has been increasingly recognized in such key documents as the National Strategy for Cultural Development (2010-2020). The challenge is to ensure that the full range of culture’s benefits is considered and that culture is consistently mainstreamed as a defining and sustainable component in national development plans. The new wealth of data on culture and development, which resulted from implementing the CDIS, has made it possible to empirically illustrate culture’s multidimensional contribution to development and advocate for its greater integration in the national development agenda. In addition, the participative implementation process unveiled gaps in national statistics and monitoring systems, pointing the way to strengthening them and further reinforcing the knowledge base to inform national policies.

Culture matters in Viet Nam: CDIS indicators highlight Viet Nam’s culture sector’s potential for prosperity, while underlining certain obstacles in place that inhibit it from reaching its full potential.

The results suggest that there is a high level of appreciation for culture’s development potential amongst Vietnamese authorities, reflected by very positive results for the indicators on the normative, policy and institutional frameworks, civil society participation, and heritage sustainability  8 9 11 22 (0.81/1; 1/1; 0.95/1; 0.75/1), which suggest that the foundation for good cultural governance for development is in place. The outcome of such legislation, policies and mechanisms is already reflected by the majority of Vietnamese benefitting from the cultural right to an education 4 (0.76/1), as well as significant opportunities to explore arts and culture subjects in key formative years at school 6 (12%), and the comprehensive professional training opportunities in culture at the TVET and tertiary levels 7 (1/1). The impact of the government’s promotion of culture is also illustrated by the significant supply of domestic fiction productions on public TV (46.83% of broadcasting time of fiction programmes), which indirectly reflects publically supported opportunities for diffusion and exposure of cultural contents provided by local creators and cultural industries, as well as the culture sector’s important contribution to national production levels and the economy.

For culture to further contribute to development and social cohesion, persisting obstacles regarding the quality and distribution of cultural infrastructures may need to be addressed 10 (0.66/1), to not only favor increased participation and enjoyment in cultural activities, but through increased access, reinforce feelings of mutual understanding, tolerance and trust across culturally diverse groups 14 15 (57.13%; 52.1%).  Similarly, while international cultural diversity is already promoted through language programmes in schools, strengthening the promotion of multilingualism 5 (46.3%) by increasing exposure to local and regional languages may likewise promote cross-cultural understanding amongst the people of Viet Nam and improve minorities’ education and working opportunities.

Finally, to enhance culture’s impact on wellbeing, increased focus may need to be placed on culture’s role in improving gender equality for development, as well as targeted actions to address the freedoms of expression and self-determination. Indicators on the objective outputs and perceptions of gender equality suggest that new forward-looking legislation and objective outputs 17 (0.69/1) do not translate into subjective opinions regarding its importance for development 18 (53%). While Vietnamese individuals feel that they are free to say what they think and that they benefit from the freedom of self-determination 16 (6.7/10), other indicators suggest that enhancement of the freedom of expression 19 (16/100) is still possible and that additional support may be necessary to assure that such freedoms fuel dynamic cultural and creative industries and permit culture to be a medium of communication and satisfaction.



4 INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: 0.76/1 (2010)

Investment in education is a high level priority in Viet Nam’s Socio-economic Development Strategy (2010-2020), and in recent years the State budget dedicated to education has nearly doubled from 11.6% in 2000 to 20% in 2010. This priority is further concretized in the Education Development Strategic Plan (2011-2020), which targets revitalizing the education system and inclusive education for marginalized groups, amongst other objectives. Within this context, the result of 0.76/1 reflects the efforts of Vietnamese authorities to guarantee this fundamental cultural right in a complete, fair and inclusive manner. This result shows that the average years of schooling of the target population aged 17 to 22 is 8.3 years. Therefore, though below the targeted average of 10 years of schooling, the majority of Vietnamese citizens can enjoy the right to an education and participate in the construction and transmission of values, attitudes and cultural skills, as well as personal and social empowerment throughout primary and secondary school. However, 8.7% of the target population in Viet Nam is still living in education deprivation, meaning that they have fewer than 4 years of schooling. This 8.7% highlights the persistence of inequality in the enjoyment of this fundamental cultural right, but hides a further geographic divide. While the percentage of the target population living in urban areas and experiencing education deprivation is only 4%, 9.8% of the target population in rural areas has less than four years of schooling. Furthermore, data suggests that as education progresses, there is a significant drop in participation; the net enrolment rate (NER) for lower secondary education is 82.6% while it is only 56.7% for upper secondary education.

These results indicate that for fair and inclusive education, more efforts are needed to improve access to and continuity of education for marginalized youth. Vietnamese authorities are currently working to implement compulsory secondary education nationwide, and further efforts to target socio-economic groups facing the brunt of deprivation are needed to eradicate ongoing inequality.



Viet Nam is a culturally diverse and rich country, with 54 distinct ethnic groups recognized by the government. The rights of each community to practice and transmit their own customs and use their own languages are guaranteed in the 1992 Constitution of Viet Nam (amended in 2013). Education has been identified as a key tool to ensure the fundamental cultural rights of all of Viet Nam’s peoples, as well as foster awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity. Multilingual education is a necessary component to encourage understanding between different groups and guarantee the respect of fundamental rights.

According to the national curriculum, 53.7% of the hours to be dedicated to languages in the first two years of secondary school is to be dedicated to the teaching of the official national language - Vietnamese. The remaining 46.3% of the time is to be dedicated to teaching international languages. This indicates significant appreciation for linguistic diversity on a global scale; however, 0% of the required national curriculum is dedicated to local or regional languages, despite the estimated 102 local and regional languages spoken.

Local and regional languages are not required to be taught during the first two years of secondary school (Grades 6-7) and are instead only taught at the primary level. In Viet Nam, the Law on Education (1999) states, “the ethnic minority groups have the right to use their own spoken languages and scripts together with Vietnamese to achieve primary education." The Ministry of Education and Training has developed a primary level syllabus for 8 minority ethnic languages to teach in areas with a high percentage of ethnic people, though such programmes are not to be considered part of the core curriculum but rather additional courses. Expanding opportunities to learn local and regional languages would improve minorities’ education and working opportunities, and would further enhance cross-cultural understanding amongst the people of Viet Nam. Such considerations should be taken into account when cross-analyzing with the results of other dimensions, particularly Social Participation.


6 ARTS EDUCATION: 12% (2012)

According to the national curriculum, 12% of the total number of instructional hours is to be dedicated to arts education in the first two years of secondary school. 40% of that time is dedicated to the subject ‘Literature’ and 30% of that time is dedicated to both ‘Music’ and ‘Arts’ subjects. In addition to arts education’s necessity for nurturing creativity and an interest in culture and cultural professions amongst learners, significant evidence points to the ways arts education and creative education overall helps to lift confidence, improve problem-solving skills, and aid attainment and achievement in other key subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  In Viet Nam, this figure of 12% indicates Vietnamese authorities already greatly value arts education, having a result that is more than double the average for test phase countries of the CDIS, which is situated at 4.8%.



Viet Nam’s result of 1/1 reflects complete and comprehensive coverage of professional training opportunities in the culture sector at national public and government-dependent private technical and tertiary education facilities. The result of 1/1 indicates that at the national level at least one course is offered in all technical and tertiary fields considered by the indicator, suggesting wide-ranging possibilities in cultural fields and a manifest willingness of national authorities to invest in cultural education.

The reach and capacity of training programmes has been significantly extended in recent years. There are now several state-sponsored institutions, which offer cultural courses at both the tertiary and technical levels. Tertiary institutions offering culture programmes include: Ha Noi Culture University, HCMC Culture University, Viet Nam National Academy of Music, Ha Noi University of Industrial Arts, Viet Nam Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, and the Viet Nam Academy of Theater and Cinema. Institutions offering technical training in cultural fields include: Institute for Conservation of Monuments, College of Fine Arts, Institute of Cultural and Arts Studies, and the Ho Chi Minh City College of Theater and Cinema.

Nevertheless, while this indicator reflects complete coverage, improvement remains regarding the distribution of access to these opportunities nation-wide. The above institutions are largely concentrated in select major cities, while a deficit of provision in both technical and tertiary programmes persists outside of these areas. Finally, while select opportunities do exist in the field of cultural management, there continues to be a shortage of cultural management training and entrepreneurial training in the arts and culture sector.




Viet Nam’s result of 0.81/1 indicates that there is already a reasonable standard-setting framework in place and that the country has made many efforts to ratify key international legal instruments affecting cultural development, cultural rights and cultural diversity, as well as to establish a national framework to recognize and implement these obligations.

Viet Nam scored 0.87/1 at the international level, which demonstrates Viet Nam’s many achievements. Viet Nam has ratified several important conventions such as the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. However, Viet Nam has yet to ratify select key conventions and international instruments regarding the protection of cultural assets and intellectual property, such as the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, the Universal Copyright Convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty.

At the national level, a score of 0.78/1 indicates that many national efforts have been made to implement international obligations that Viet Nam has agreed to at the country level. However, room for improvement still remains as several key items continue to be missing from the national legislation and regulatory framework. For example, no ‘framework law’ for culture exists though several specific laws are in place; and although there are sectoral laws on heritage, books and publishing, and cinema, there continue to be no sectoral laws on music, television or radio. In lieu of a framework law, Viet Nam has adopted the 1998 Resolution of the 5th Central Committee, which regards building and developing a progressive Vietnamese culture. While significant legislation, this resolution focuses on traditional national identity and does not address the dynamism of culture and the possibility of change. Other key gaps include a lack of regulation dealing with the tax status of culture, such as tax exemptions and incentives designed to encourage investment in the culture sector. Such gaps illustrate deficiencies in the normative system for supporting the emergence of viable domestic cultural industries.



The final result of 1/1 reflects that national authorities have taken great efforts to create a comprehensive policy and institutional framework to promote the culture sector as part of development, by establishing targeted policies and mechanisms and by having an adequate political and administrative system to implement the legal instruments seen above.  

Overall, Viet Nam has an extensive and well-structured cultural policy and institutional framework for the protection and promotion of culture, cultural rights and cultural diversity. At the national level, the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism (MoCST) drives policy, with strategies for culture as well as individual cultural subsectors. In addition, a strategy for the cultural and creative industries is currently under development in Viet Nam, going beyond the components considered for the construction of this CDIS indicator.

However, in spite of this perfect score, enhancement of the framework could still be achieved. In regards to the institutional framework, though key culture institutions exist and responsibilities are decentralized, simplification of the structure of cultural governance could benefit the sector as many sub-departments can make institutions difficult to approach. Concerning the policy framework, although culture has already been included in national development plans and strategy papers, the co-ownership of culture strategies with other ministries would assist in further positioning culture as central to the achievement of development objectives such as inclusive education, innovation and economic growth, social cohesion and gender equality.



Viet Nam’s final result is 0.66/1, 1 representing the situation in which selected infrastructure is equally distributed amongst regions according to the relative size of the population. The score of 0.66 thus reflects that there are many cultural facilities available across all 6 regions of Viet Nam, but that some inequality persists regarding access to Museums, Exhibition Venues Dedicated to the Performing Arts, and Libraries and Media Resource Centers.

When looking at the figures for the three different categories of infrastructures, Viet Nam scores 0.75/1 for Museums, 0.52/1 for Exhibition Venues and 0.73/1 for Libraries. This suggests that the most equal distribution of access exists for Museums and Libraries, and that the most unequal distribution exists for Exhibition Venues. Only Exhibition Venues with 100 seats or more are taken into consideration for the construction of this indicator. The Central Highlands region has no such facilities. Similarly, while the Mekong River region has 20% of the population, only 5% of Exhibition Venues are located in the area. In contrast, the Red River region is well covered regarding such venues, representing 23% of the population but having 36% of all such facilities. Generally speaking, in most instances cultural infrastructures are near to fairly distributed, though a greater cluster can be found in the Red River Delta and North and South Central regions; and rural areas have more facilities than urban environments in proportion to the population size. Increasing equality of access to cultural infrastructure could increase the people of Viet Nam’s opportunities to take part in cultural and creative activities in order to benefit the country both economically, through the production and consumption of cultural goods and services; and socially, through learning and developing an appreciation for the diverse cultures of Viet Nam. This is a crucial and common challenge among all the countries that have implemented the CDIS until now as the average score for this indicator is only 0.43/1.

In addition to equitable distribution, the National Strategy for Cultural Development (2010-2020) suggests evaluating the quality of current infrastructures, claiming that such facilities as museums are generally outdated, featuring old-fashioned and obsolete equipment for both display and preservation purposes. Furthermore, consideration may be given to ensuring that future development of infrastructures is demand-driven and inclusive of shifts in cultural practice. The indicators of the Social Participation dimension regarding participation in going-out and identity-building cultural activities could facilitate such development strategies.



The final result of 0.95/1 indicates that comprehensive opportunities exist for dialogue and representation of both cultural professionals and minorities in regards to the formulation and implementation of cultural policies, measures and programmes that concern them. Such opportunities for participation in cultural governance exist at the national as well as regional and local levels.

Regarding the participation of minorities, the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) is a ministerial-level agency responsible for supporting ethnic minority populations. CEMA issues many of its own policies but also coordinates with other ministries regarding all minority issues. More specific to culture, the Department of Ethnic Minority Culture (DEMC) under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) is directly responsible for cultural issues regarding ethnic minorities, and the Vietnamese Institute of Culture and Arts Studies (VICAS) is also consulted by the MoCST to inform strategy regarding ethnic cultural issues based on their research. Both CEMA and DEMC have extensive branches at the local level, although the mechanism for the consultative process has not been formally put in place. Ethnic minorities are also represented at the National Assembly during decision-making on legislation though their input is non-binding.

To facilitate the participation of cultural professionals in governance, there are several institutional mechanisms and organic structures that operate at both the national and regional levels such as the Writer’s Association, the Musician’s Association and active social networks for all art mediums. Such associations are sponsored by the government and meet annually. Regulations dictate that as for minorities, the input of such actors is consultative but it is unclear as to what degree of influence they have on policy-making. Additional transparency of the consultative process is needed, and to enhance the local component of such mechanisms, an increase in strong community-based cultural organisations would assist in maintaing a firm attachment to the culture sector.




In 2011, 8.5% of the people of Viet Nam reported having visited a museum in the last 12 months. This result indicates that Viet Nam is not a country where large numbers of the population visit cultural venues and institutions. This assessment is reinforced by the reported 0.08% of the population that attended the cinema during the same 12 months. Partaking in activities at cultural venues and institutions is not a practiced cultural tradition as it is in other parts of the world. However, this is not to say that the Vietnamese do not actively participate in culture. There is a significant tradition of partaking in festivals, performing arts and music, with informal and often incidental participation common across the country. However, no data has been systematically collected to reflect this type participation at the national level.

Nevertheless, these results provide significant information in regards to participation practices in going-out cultural activities. The result of 8.5% represents a solid, if small, cultural participation base for Viet Nam. A higher participation rate for museums may be related to its relevance to national priorities such as cultural education activities, festivals, and minority ethnic expression. Further cross-analysis with the Governance dimension also reveals that of the three select categories of cultural infrastructures, museums are the most equally distributed. On the contrary, the provision of cinemas is rather limited and restricted to urban centers. Viewing films is instead often done in the home by watching both legal and pirated DVDs, as well as by viewing films on the increasing number of cable TV channels. Moreover, such low figures may reflect public indifference to cultural institutions in part attributed to the poor quality of services offered, as the National Strategy for Cultural Development (2010-2020) suggests. Evidence derived from the number of visits to the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology and Women’s Museum in Ha Noi or Museum of War Remnants in Ho Chi Minh City indicates that the practice of visiting cultural institutions changes when continuous efforts are made to update obsolete facilities, improve collections and displays, and organize interactive exhibits and activities that target a broader audience. Thus, increasing the quality of cultural infrastructures may have a positive impact on cultural participation and the consumption of cultural goods and services.



In 2006, 57.13% of the people of Viet Nam agreed that they do not find people of a different culture as undesirable neighbours. This indicator provides an assessment of the degree of tolerance and openness to diversity, thus providing insight into the levels of interconnectedness within a given society. It is a composite result of respondents’ replies regarding neighbours falling under 3 categories: people of a different race, immigrants/foreign workers, and people of a different religion.

A result of 57.13% indicates that the values, attitudes and convictions of slightly more than half of Vietnamese favor the acceptance of other cultures; inversely, 42.87% of the population show signs of intolerance towards diversity. Such figures suggest a low level of tolerance overall as the average final result of the countries having implemented the CDIS is situated at 81.97%. Slight variations in the results appear across age groups. The lowest level of tolerance was recorded for respondents between the ages 15-29—54.73%, while respondents ages 30-49 and 50 and above responded 57.63% and 59.13% respectively.

These results could be interpreted as reflecting a cultural context and system of values that does not thrive on or promote difference and diversity, or encouragement in an interest for new or different traditions or beliefs, factors that contribute to a favourable social environment for development. Cross-analyzed with the result of the Education dimension, these results highlight the importance for continuing opportunities in multilingual, art and culture education in schools, which may assist in fostering greater appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity.


15 INTERPERSONAL TRUST: 52.1% (2006)

In 2006, 52.1% of Vietnamese agreed that most people can be trusted. This indicator assesses the level of trust and sense of solidarity and cooperation in Viet Nam, providing further insight into its social capital. A result of 52.1% indicates a relatively high level of trust and solidarity as the average of the countries having implemented the CDIS is situated at 19.2%. Though nearly half of the population shows signs of trust, there are variations across age groups. Only 47.9% of respondents ages 15-29 agree that most people can be trusted compared to 50.6 % of those ages 30-49, and 59.2% of those 50 and above. There is a difference of approximately 11% between the youngest and oldest respondents, suggesting an increasing trend with age.

While Viet Nam’s result is relatively high on average, significant room for improvement in Viet Nam still remains as a large minority, 47.9%, of the population does not agree that most people can be trusted. Cross-analysis with the other indicators of this dimension illustrates the distinctive approach to community and identity in Viet Nam. There is a strong emphasis on the family and local community amongst the Vietnamese, but a more guarded approach to those that are unfamiliar. A challenge going forward in the rapidly changing environment of modern Viet Nam will be to ensure that local and familial trust persists but not at the expense of solidarity amongst a wider society, including minorities and foreign nationals who contribute to a rich fabric of diversity and Viet Nam’s cultural assets and resources. Membership in social, cultural or political organizations can be a channel for fostering a sense of community and interconnectedness in society, but the majority of Vietnamese do not take part in such organizations. An additional possible means to reduce stigmatization and encourage mutual trust and understanding in Viet Nam could be the growth of civil society and NGOs, which work to enhance community cohesion and build confidence.



Viet Nam’s final result is 6.7/10, 10 representing the situation in which individuals believe that there is ‘a great deal of freedom of choice and control’ and 1 being ‘no freedom of choice and control.’ The score of 6.7/10 indicates that two thirds of Vietnamese feel that they have control over their lives and are free to live the life they choose, according to their own values and beliefs. By assessing this freedom, this indicator evaluates the sense of empowerment and enablement of individuals for deciding and orienting their development.

While the median response for the population is 6.7, variations can be seen according to sex and age. The median response was 6.95 for men and 6.38 for women, and while respondents ages 50 and over showed a lower level of self-determination with a median result of 6.39, the younger population ages 15-49 showed that they were more confident in their capacity to express their identity and orientate their development, with a median result of 6.8.

These results suggest a level of individual agency in Viet Nam in line with the average results for all countries having implemented the CDIS, which is also situated at 6.7/10. This indicates that for the majority of citizens, Viet Nam provides the necessary enabling political, economic, social and cultural context for individual well-being and life satisfaction and builds common values, norms and beliefs which succeed in empowering them to live the life they wish. Contributing factors that may continue to serve as barriers to a sense of self-determination amongst the remaining third of the population include such issues as censorship and imbalances in employment opportunities between sexes as illustrated by the Communication and Gender Equality indicators.



Gender equality has been recently positioned as a major national objective of the Vietnamese government, as illustrated by the Law on Gender Equality (2007) and the recently adopted National Strategy on Gender Equality (2011-2015). Within this context, the result of 0.69/1 reflects a medium degree of public investment and efforts made to elaborate and implement laws, policies and measures intended to support the ability of women and men to enjoy equal opportunities and rights. Though indicative of genuine efforts, Viet Nam’s result suggests that the governments’ actions are similar to those of other countries as the average result for test phase countries of the CDIS is situated at 0.64/1.

There are many basic preconditions for gender equality in place in Viet Nam. For example, while women account for nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate, 91.4% of Vietnamese women are literate compared to 95.8% of Vietnamese men; and a comparison of the average number of years of education for men and women aged 25 years and above reveals little divergence. However, a detailed analysis of the four areas covered by the indicator reveals persisting gaps where additional investment is needed to improve gender equality outputs. For example, the Viet Nam Housing and Living Standard Survey indicates that the remaining challenges to erase disparities in education between genders is limited to certain minority groups, such as the Hmong/Dao ethnic group, where females continue to lag behind males. Progress still needs to be made regarding the outcomes of political participation where a significant imbalance persists. In 2012, Vietnamese women represented only 24% of parliamentarians. Though this is amongst the highest rates of female political participation in the Asia Pacific region, much progress can still be achieved. Moreover, a closer look at women’s political participation reveals that their participation in the Councils of the National Assembly is predominately related to culture, education, youth, social affairs and the environment; but women remain significantly underrepresented in fields traditionally reserved for males such as economics, defense, security, finance and budgeting. Additionally, the lack of targeted quota systems to further encourage the advancement of female talent in political offices largely accounts for the gap documented for targeted gender equity legislation. Finally, although the gap in labour force participation is less apparent, some key obstacles for equality are still to be noted. Though women play an active role in the Vietnamese economy as indicated by a 68% female labour participation rate, in contrast, 78% of men are either employed or actively searching for work. Inequality in the workplace also persists regarding differential wages and access to managerial and executive positions. There are also significant barriers to accessing employment and civic roles in rural areas, contributing factors include societal pressure to play a domestic role or participate in unskilled agricultural activities.

In conclusion, even though Viet Nam has made gender equality a national priority and progress has been made, much remains to be achieved. Policies require people, and a further look at the subjective indicator below suggests a discord between recent forward-looking public actions like the National Strategy on Gender Equality (2011-2015) and deep-set cultural values. Resistance due to embedded cultural values can undermine the feasibility of objectives and the sustainability of performance outcomes.



In 2006, 53.4% of Vietnamese positively perceived gender as a factor for development, according to their responses to questions regarding three key domains that parallel the objective indicator for this dimension - employment, political participation and education. The final result is a composite indicator, which suggests that nearly half of the population of Viet Nam continue to view gender as irrelevant or a negative factor for development. Individuals’ perceptions on gender equality are strongly influenced by cultural practices and norms, thus Viet Nam’s result suggests that gender-biased social and cultural norms remain dominant.

However, the perception of gender equality varied according to the domain of the question asked. When asked if “University is more important for a boy than for a girl,” 79.3% of the population responded no, suggesting that education is a domain in which gender equality is more likely to be perceived as positive for development. When asked if “Men make better political leaders than woman,” only 43.3% of respondents did not agree. Both this low appreciation for gender equality in political participation and the higher esteem for women’s education, correlate with the gaps in objective outputs observed. Surprisingly, the most unfavourable perceptions were recorded in regards to employment. When asked if “When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women,” only 37.7% of respondents did not agree. This means that 62.3% of the population agrees that men have priority in regards to employment, which is surprisingly high in comparison to the gap recorded for labour force participation rates between males and females. Nevertheless, this figure is consistent with the ongoing barriers to equality of wages and equal access to managerial and executive careers.

>> This cross-analysis of the subjective and objective indicators reveals a gap between recent forward-looking national legislation for gender equality and the population’s attitudes and values in this area. These results suggest a need for greater advocacy efforts targeting attitudes. Since cultural values and attitudes strongly shape perceptions towards gender equality, it is critical to prove that gender equality can complement and be compatible with cultural values and attitudes, and be an influential factor in the retransmission of cultural values for building inclusive and egalitarian societies, and for the respect of human rights.



19 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: 16/100 (2012)

The 1992 Constitution of Viet Nam (amended in 2013) and the 1989 Law on Media (amended in 1999), protect the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.

Viet Nam’s score of 16/100 reflects the efforts still needed by the Vietnamese authorities to guarantee these freedoms, understood as the building blocks for the development of open and participatory societies as well as key enablers for creativity, innovation, and cultural diversity. This result suggests that the print, broadcast and internet-based media in the country is currently ‘not free’ and that obstacles persist in the establishment of an enabling environment, which is a condition for fostering the free flow of ideas, knowledge, information and content, as well as for building knowledge societies. Key problematic areas include the legal and political environments. For example, while freedom of expression is enshrined in legislation such as the Constitution and the Law on Media, the Criminal Code does not allow the press to criticize authorities (Article 88). Recent decrees have also banned the use of pseudonyms and anonymous sources, and have drawn a clear division between credentialed journalists and bloggers, eliminating the latter from the ‘press.’ In addition, nearly all print media are owned or under the control of Vietnamese authorities. These are all factors that limit freedom of expression in media.
However, an additional subjective indicator reveals that to the contrary, in 2005, 79% of Vietnamese people agreed that they are free to say what they think without fear.

This additional subjective indicator provides complimentary information on the assessment of the freedom of expression by evaluating to what degree individuals feel that they have the right to exercise this freedom. 36.7% strongly agree with this statement, while 42.3% somewhat agree. The latter indicates a certain level of hesitation to speak openly, but as a whole, the majority of Vietnamese feel that they are free to enjoy the freedom of expression, opposing the findings of the core objective indicator.


20 ACCESS AND INTERNET USE: 35.07% (2011)

In 2011, 35.07% of the national population used the Internet in Viet Nam. The Vietnamese government has officially embraced digital technology, positioning it as a key driver for economic growth and increased competitivity. Digital technologies’ role for development, innovation and creation is set to be included in a new National Strategy for the Cultural Economy. The result of the emphasis given by authorities has been a rapid rise in access and Internet use at the national level.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 23.9% of the Vietnamese population used the Internet in 2008, rising to 30.7% by 2010. In June 2009, the first 3G licenses were awarded by the Ministry of Information and Communication to 5 operators who committed to invest in infrastructures and a total of 30,000 base transceiver stations. By 2011, the Ministry of Information and Communication recorded 26,784,035 Internet subscribers, a total of 35.07% of the population. This accounts for an increase of over 11% over a period of 3 years. Access to the Internet is on the rise, and new platforms for access, including smartphones, are democratizing technology use for millions of Vietnamese.

Increased access and use of the Internet may assist in the introduction of new types of content creation and social media. These can be positive factors for the growth of the creative economy as the arts and culture are likewise encouraged to take on new forms, encouraging new means of participation in cultural activities.



In Viet Nam, approximately 46.8% of the broadcasting time of television fiction programmes on 6 public free-to-air national television channels is dedicated to domestic fiction programmes. This ratio indicates a high proportion of domestically produced fiction programmes, well above the average result for all countries having implemented the CDIS, which is situated at 25.8%.

When only looking at public free-to-air television channels that are designated for consumption by a domestic audience in Viet Nam, though still relatively high, the result drops to 37.4%. When exclusively looking at the content destined for best-packaging and to be aired on VTV4 for an audience of overseas Vietnamese, 32.1% of all fiction programmes are domestically produced. These figuressuggest a healthy local production economy, reflecting the Vietnamese Government’s objective to grow domestic production industries in broadcasting and film.

However, such relatively high levels of domestic content may also be attributed to a large and linguistically consistent domestic audience, and could also be the outcome of a structured approach to controlled domestic content. Data that indicates that the sector may not be reaching its full potential include the absence of co-productions in television fiction programmes. This is similarly reflected in the film sector, with little evidence of co-production or co-investment with international partners. Co-productions can provide opportunities for the audiovisual sector to expand its audience. Increasing international collaboration through supply chains and co-investments are currently under-explored.




Viet Nam’s result of 0.75/1 is reflective of the high level of priority given to the protection, safeguarding and promotion of heritage sustainability by Vietnamese authorities. While many public efforts are dedicated to registrations and inscriptions, raising-awareness, capacity-building, conservation and management; persisting gaps in community involvement as well as mechanisms for stimulating support amongst civil society and the private sector, call for additional actions to improve this multi-dimensional framework.

Viet Nam scored 0.84/1 for registration and inscriptions, indicating that efforts to date have resulted in many sub-national, national and international registrations and inscriptions of Vietnamese sites and elements of tangible and intangible heritage. However, while Viet Nam has an outstanding 3,168 heritage sites registered at the national level, 7,484 heritage sites registered at the provincial level, 48 elements of intangible heritage inventoried and more than 2 million items registered as cultural property at the national level, no database of stolen cultural objects yet exists. The latter gap is of particular significance when cross-analyzing with the indicators of the Governance dimension, which illustrate that Viet Nam has not yet ratified the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995) or the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954). Viet Nam has also yet to ratify the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001). Nevertheless, Viet Nam’s extraordinary inventories and registries, as well as the success of national efforts to have 7 World Heritage sites and 7 elements in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, demonstrate the level of importance and value that heritage is attributed.

Viet Nam scored 0.79/1 for the protection, safeguarding and management of heritage, indicating that there are several well-defined policies and measures, as well as efforts to build capacity, but certain key gaps persist regarding community involvement. As indicated by the Governance dimension, updated sectoral laws and policies for heritage exist at the national level, including the Law on Cultural Heritage that was amended in 2009. In addition, many capacity building and training programmes have been carried out by various national stakeholders to increase heritage site management staff’s expertise, communities’ knowledge of intangible heritage, and to increase expertise concerning illicit trafficking. Cross-analysis with the Education dimension also indicates that a variety of opportunities exist for both tertiary as well as technical and vocational training in the area of heritage. Yet, in the last 2 years, no measures or practices have been adopted to actively involve communities in the fight against illicit trafficking, or to respect customary practices governing access to specific aspects of intangible cultural.

Viet Nam scored 0.60/1 for the transmission and mobilization of support, which reflects that while raising awareness of heritage’s value is on track, much more has yet to be done to gain the support of the civil society and private sector. In addition to signage at heritage sites and differential pricing, to raise awareness, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Education have agreed to promote heritage in schools through the the ‘Friendly Schools, Active Students’ programme in which heritage is a component. In addition, an inter-ministerial communiqué has been signed in 2012 to promote heritage education in schools, and a series of trainings have been organized to train teachers on how to integrate heritage in teaching curricula. However, apart from the involvement of private companies as contractors in restoration projects, no specific measures to involve civil society and/or the private sector in heritage protection, conservation, or transmission have been implemented. Encouraging the formation of private foundations to assist in the protection of heritage and explicit agreements with tour operators are two means to be explored further.