Education in Vietnam

Education in Vietnam is divided into five levels: pre-primary, primary, intermediate, secondary, and higher education. Formal education consists of twelve years of basic education. Basic education consists of five years of primary education, four years of intermediate education, and three years of secondary education. The majority of basic education students are enrolled on a half-day basis. With one of the highest GDP growths rates in Asia,[1] Vietnam is currently trying to overhaul its education system, with a view to preparing students for the increasing role of English as the language of business, and the importance of internationalising the education system to maintain a workforce equipped to maintain the rapid economic growth of the last two decades.

School grades
The school year is divided into two semesters. The first semester begins in late August and ends some time before T t, while the second one begins right after the first one and lasts until June.
Level/Grade Preschool Pre-school playgroup Kindergarten Primary school First grade Second grade Third grade Fourth grade Fifth grade Secondary school 6-7 7-8 8-9 9-10 10-11 3-4 4-6 Typical age

Sixth grade Seventh grade Eighth grade Ninth grade High school Tenth grade Eleventh grade Twelfth grade Post-secondary education

11 12 12-13 13 14 14-15

15 16 16 17 17 18

Ages vary (usually four years, referred to as Freshman, Tertiary education (College or University) Sophomore, Junior and Senior years)

[edit] Academic grading
Main article: Academic grading in Vietnam

[edit] Pre-primary education
Public kindergartens usually admit children ranging from 18 months to 5 years of age. Sometimes, four- or five-year-old children are taught the alphabet and basic arithmetic. This level of education tends to be popular in major cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Can Tho and Vung Tau.

[edit] Primary education
Children normally start primary education at the age of six. Education at this level lasts for 5 years and is compulsory for all children. The country's literacy rate is over 90%.[2]

[edit] Intermediate education
Junior high school (Vietnamese: trung h c c s ) includes sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grade. Until its abolition in 2006, students had to pass the Intermediate Graduation Examination (IGE) presented by the local Department of Education and Training to graduate. This educational level is homogeneous throughout most of the country, except in very remote provinces, which expect to popularize and standardize middle education within the next few years. Intermediate education is not compulsory in Vietnam.

[edit] Secondary education
Secondary education (Vietnamese: trung h c ph thông) consists of grades ten through twelve. The IGE is a prerequisite entrance examination for secondary schooling. The IGE score determines the schools at which students are able to enroll. The higher the score, the more prestigious the school. All subjects are compulsory for students.
y y y y y y y y y y y y

Literature/Reading Mathematics (consisting of separate subjects Algebra (year 10 only), Calculus (year 11 and 12 only) and Geometry (both year 10, 11 and 12)) Physics Chemistry Biology History Geography Civics (generally consists of economics, philosophy, politics, law and ethics) Foreign language (mostly English; Chinese, French and Russian are taught at some specialized schools) Technology (consists of Agriculture/Horticulture, Mechanics, Electronics, Design, etc.) Information Technology (Recently introduced, yet to be implemented in poorer regions. Students study basic programming in languages such as Visual FoxPro, Visual Basic and Pascal) Physical Education

Advanced classes consists of either:
y y

Natural sciences: Students follow an advanced curriculum (and different textbooks) in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Social sciences: Students follow an advanced curriculum (and different textbooks) in literature, history, geography and foreign language.

At the start of secondary school, students can enroll in Specialist Classes if they pass the class entrance exam, which usually consists of a Mathematics exam, a Literature exam, and an exam of the subject that the student wants to specialize in. The specialised subject can be any of the subjects listed above, except Technology, Physical Education and Civics. Students enrolled in these programs have a heavier workload than regular secondary school students. The workload

varies from school to school, but grade 11 students are generally expected to study grade 12 courses concurrently. Other courses include university-level courses. Some schools go as far as requiring their students to finish secondary school by the end of grade 10. Only prestigious schools offer these classes, and they have yet to be standardized.
[edit] Leaving Examination

All students in Vietnam are required to take the national Leaving Examination at the end of grade 12 to get a diploma. The Leaving Examination is administered by the Ministry of Education and Training. Students still have to pass their regular end-of-term examinations, along with passing the Leaving Examination. The Leaving Examination includes six subjects: mathematics, Vietnamese literature, foreign language, and three other subjects determined by the Ministry of Education and Training. Students usually sit for The Leaving Examination in late May or early June.

[edit] Higher education
University entrance is based on the scores achieved in the entrance examination. High school graduates need high scores to be admitted to universities. Securing a place in a public university is considered a major step towards a successful career, especially for those from rural areas or disadvantaged families. The pressure on the candidates therefore remains very high, despite the measures taken to reduce the importance of these exams. In 2004, it was estimated that nearly one million students took the exam, but on average, only 20% passed. Normally, candidates take three exams; each lasts 180 minutes for the fixed group of subjects they choose. There are 4 fixed groups of subjects:
y y y y

Group A: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry Group B: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry Group C: Literature, History, Geography Group D: Literature, Foreign Language, Mathematics

Besides these, there are also groups H, M, N, R, T and V. Candidates have a total of four attempts at passing the examination. Most of Vietnam's universities also offer master's (2 years) and Doctor of Philosophy (4 years) degrees. In addition to universities, there are community colleges, art and technology institutes, professional secondary schools, and vocational schools which offer degrees or certificates, after courses lasting from a few months to two years.

[edit] Private universities

According to Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training, there are currently 23 private universities, accounting for 11% of the total. These private universities are currently training 119,464 students, 11.7% of the total student body. The government is planning to increase the private universities' share of the sector to 30% by 2011.[citation needed] The presence of foreign universities is increasing. Universities such as RMIT and University of Hawaii offer degrees in fields such as business, English as a Second Language and Information Technology. Running a foreign education system in Vietnam is challenging. Quality control and affordability are key issues, as well as red tape.

[edit] Teaching quality issues
The entire higher education system is facing several crises, such as outdated curricula, a lecturercentered method of teaching and learning, a lack of linkage between teaching and research activities, and a large discord between theory and practical training, that leads to a large number of graduates being unable to find a job, while skills shortages drive inflation to double-digit levels. Aside from degrees offered by foreign universities, qualifications from Vietnamese universities are not recognized worldwide. Teaching methods delivered in the public system are teacher-oriented. Class discussions are uncommon, and students are expected to be studious and passively attentive in the classroom. This method is a reflection of colonial influence, and is a sharp contrast to American and British pedagogy, where interaction and debate are more prominent. Advanced and specialized high school students are generally expected to study additional courses, which can amount to a total of nine periods a day. Parents also enroll their children into cram schools. Regular teachers usually teach these cram sessions themselves, as a means of supplementing their income. Students who do not attend these sessions are usually at a disadvantage, as materials appearing on tests and exams are often covered only in cram schools. Public schools are underfunded. Currently, only primary schools are subsidized by the government, to 50% of the total tuition cost. The drop-out rate after fifth grade is high, and most students cannot afford to attend higher senior high school or university, due to poverty[citation needed] . The average monthly salary of local Vietnamese public teachers is between 60USD and 100USD, so many supplement their income by working in the private sector, or as tutors. Private language centers offering English as a Second Language are in high demand in the larger cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Students flock to these schools to increase their employment opportunities. These classes are usually taught by foreign expatriates who are generally paid between 10 and 20 US dollars per hour, depending both on their qualifications, and on the quality of the school. Lower standards in some of the lower paying schools have

resulted in a proliferation of low-quality teachers (known to the local community as "backpacker teachers").