Education and Schools in Ho Chi Minh City

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Education in Ho Chi Minh City is of a good standardHo Chi Minh City is home to most of the expats living in Vietnam and as a result of the city’s ever increasing expat population, HCMC has seen a growth in the number of private and international schools.

These prestigious schools offer an excellent quality of education and state-of-the-art facilities and are popular with expats as well as wealthy Vietnamese.
Despite its status as a developing country, Vietnam has a good standard of education with a literacy rate of over 90 percent. Academic achievement is something that is highly valued and promoted in Vietnamese society.
While international schools remain the most popular option for expats moving to HCMC with children, there are some who choose to enrol their child at a good public school in Vietnam to save on the extremely high cost of international school fees.

Public schools in Ho Chi Minh City

While the standard of education at public schools in HCMC is generally quite good, expat students may find the teaching methods employed in the Vietnamese public system difficult to adjust to.
Students at public schools in Vietnam are expected to study quietly and passively, which contradicts the more innovative learning methods and active class discussions encouraged in Western culture. Vietnamese students are often put under enormous amounts of pressure to perform well academically, by both their families and teachers. Most children have extra private tuition after school.

There are, however, a growing number of schools in Ho Chi Minh City which are making a break from traditional Vietnamese methods and offering American-style learning. These more modern public schools tend to have extremely long waiting lists.

There are five levels of schooling within the Vietnamese public school system:
  • Pre-school : Three to six years old
  • Primary school : Six to 11 years 
  • Secondary school : 11 to 15 years
  • High school: 15 to 18 years
  • Tertiary education: 18 years old and upwards

International schools in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City offers expats a wide variety of international schooling options. The top international schools tend to employ native English speakers or those who have trained in the country that the particular school is affiliated with.

The major advantage of opting to send an expat student to an international school is that it allows them to make the transition to life in Vietnam with greater ease. International schools allow foreign students to continue studying the same curriculum they are used to from back in their home country. Furthermore, expat children are given the opportunity to interact with other children who are facing similar challenges of adjusting to life in a new country.

Most international schools in Ho Chi Minh City accept applications throughout the year to accommodate for the unpredictable nature of expat placements. However, parents should bear in mind that places at the most popular schools fill up fast, so it is best to begin the application process as soon as possible.

The application criteria for international schools in HCMC vary quite dramatically and depend on each school itself. Some have entrance exams that test a child’s English and Maths ability, while others require students to attend an interview before a formal offer is made. Some schools require parents to pay a non-refundable application fee.

Generally, international school fees in HCMC are high and increase along with the age of the student. Additional fees are charged for students that board at the school. Expat parents should also budget for the additional costs of school uniforms, excursions and stationary.

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