Most of the time, primary schools are public since public primary education is free, but there has been an increase in pupils attending nonpublic schools or universities the further they get in their education. Unlike other Asian countries, students coming from “poor” families would rather go to private universities, since they have to offer a fixed number of scholarships.
In general, there are four types of schools, which are divided into “public” and “non-public.”
- Public schools are run by the state, the state invests in the schools and is in charge of office decisions.
- Semi-public schools are set up by the state, but private people and organisations are motivated to invest in the infrastructure.
- People-funded schools are not supported by a state budget. They need permission, and are set up by social or economic organisations.
- Private schools are set up by individuals or groups. They also need to get permission, and the funders invest in the schools themselves.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, international schools have become more and more important in Vietnam, and not only for expats. The prevailing languages are English (with many Australian schools) and French. The belief that “international” automatically meant “better,” made many Vietnamese people spend almost all their income on their child’s education in order to send them to an international school.
The truth is that international schools can easily cost USD $6,000 per year for one child, and the quality is not always worth the money. When choosing a school for your child, it is worth it to take the time and effort to research different schools. There are a lot to choose from, and very often there are huge differences in the quality of both teachers and curriculum.
There are two types of international schools. The first has an international curriculum while all lessons are held in English, and the second teaches a Vietnamese curriculum and has only extended English classes.
In most international schools, usually you have to pay an application fee for administrative costs after filling out the application forms. It is not returned even if your child is refused. The enrollment fee is kind of a deposit and has to be paid after your child has been accepted. It is later subtracted from the overall tuition fee. Paying too late can lead to a loss of the promised place-holder.
In some cases, international schools offer discounts if more than one child of a family is attending the same school.
Here you can find a list of international schools in Vietnam’s biggest cities.