Feb 23, 2013

Vietnam – Which schools are ideal for children?

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VietNamNet Bridge – International schools could be the ideal places for children to learn English, but they make light of science subjects. State owned schools can provide good learning environment, but the curricula are too academic.

Vietnamese parents have kicked off a new race of enrolling in star schools, even though schools would only begin the new enrolment season in eight months. It’s really very difficult to decide what schools to enroll in, because no school is ideal in their eyes.

webtretho, lamchame and some other education forums these days have been full of the entries analyzing the pros and cons of different types of general schools in Vietnam.

In previous years, parents in urban areas always tried to enroll their children in “star” schools which have good teaching staff and good teaching and learning achievements. However, they seem to think differently now.

Cuamit, a parent on webtretho, while agreeing that it’d be better to send children to star schools, said there still exists “bad classes” and “bad teachers” in star schools, while “good classes” and “good teachers” also exist in normal schools.

Phuong Thao and Nguyen Nhung, the other two parents, do not think that they need to send children to star schools at any costs, believing that one’s success in life does not depends on the schools he goes, but on his IQ and ability.

“As you may see, the majority of the students who come first at the university entrance exams every year are not from star schools at all,” Thao said. Meanwhile, it is very costly to obtain a seat at star school. A local newspaper reported that parents would have to pay $3,000 (VND60 million) for a seat at a star school.

Hong Nhung, who is now a teacher of a domestic invested international school, said both star and normal schools, international and domestic, state owned and non-state owned schools have advantages and disadvantages.

Star schools are believed to have better pedagogical environment, because students must go through competitions to be enrolled in the schools, which means that naughty children don’t have the opportunities to obtain seats at the schools.

However, it’s always very costly and difficult to enroll in the schools. Meanwhile, since the demand is overly high, the classes of the star schools are sometimes overcrowded.

It was once fashionable to send children to international schools, because parents believed that this is the best way for their children to learn foreign languages. However, Nhung has noticed that the schools are not keen in teaching science subjects.

“A lot of international school students cannot solve the math questions given in textbooks. In general, they are very bad at math, physics and literature,” she said.

State owned schools have been criticized for running overloaded academic curricula. However, they remain the top choice of the parents, who cannot afford the high tuitions required by international schools.

Meocon, a parent, said it’d be better to send children to nearby schools, where there are not too many students. This would allow parents to easier meet and see off their children.

While parents in urban areas still disagree about what schools to enroll, they all decide that their children need to begin studying English soon.

“My elderly son began studying math and sciences in English from the third grade. Students here study with native English speakers with Vietnamese being the assistant teachers. I think this is the best solution,” a parent wrote.

Nguyen Thao

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