“I want you all to stay committed and focused, it will get tough at times — it already has for some of you — but it is well worth it,” she said, before the women sat and chatted with students.
“Even if your families don’t understand that today, trust me they will, when you go off to college or start your businesses,” she added.
With its booming youth population and fast-growing economy, Vietnam routinely outperforms its neighbours in education rankings, especially in math and sciences.
School enrolment rates are also high at 91.7 percent, but the quality of schooling often drops off in rural areas, and in the poorest pockets of the country economic pressures can force girls out of school early.
Student Truong Thi Hai Yen said Obama’s visit — and life story — was a major motivation.