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Ho 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, 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 locals.
Vietnam has a good standard of education with a literacy rate of over 95 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 Ho Chi Minh City with children, some 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 Ho Chi Minh City 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 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 that are making a break from traditional Vietnamese methods and offering American-style learning. These more modern public schools tend to have long waiting lists.
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 home. 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 the unpredictable nature of expat placements. However, parents should bear in mind that places at the most popular schools fill up fast, so it's best to begin the application process as far in advance as possible.
The application criteria for international schools vary widely. Some have entrance exams that test a child’s English and Mathematics ability, while others require students to attend an interview before a formal offer is made.
Generally, international school fees in Ho Chi Minh City are high and increase along with the age of the student. Expat parents should also budget for the additional costs of school uniforms, excursions and stationery.