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Education in Vietnam

Are you interested in life in Vietnam? Vietnam’s society is comprised of various minorities and cultural influences. With our guide on living in Vietnam, its population, housing, healthcare, and education, you will quickly find your way around the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula.
Providing their kids with a good education is very important to many Vietnamese parents.

Education: Of Great Importance for Vietnamese Families

There are five stages in Vietnam’s education system:

  • pre-primary
  • primary
  • intermediate
  • secondary
  • higher education

In Vietnam, children enjoy twelve years of basic education on a half-day basis before they move on to college, university, or begin work.

Education plays a major role in Vietnamese life. Not only is the devotion to study one of society’s core values, but education is also recognized as a chance of advancement. There is a huge demand for education in Vietnam, and the public school system cannot always satisfy this demand. In general, families invest a lot of time and money to send their children to a good school to try and ensure they will have a bright future. Recently, the wealthier families of Vietnam have been sending their children overseas because they were disappointed by the standards of public universities in the country.

Quality of Education: Varied, but Reforms Are Improving It

Just like the healthcare sector, the education sector is benefitting from deep reforms initiated by the government. This is specifically the case for universities, which do not always meet international standards and are thus often incapable of offering a well-rounded education.

Outdated teaching methods are one of the main issues plaguing the Vietnamese education system. Teachers often focus more on discipline in the classroom than on lively discussions and interaction. Censorship and interference from the government are prevalent and can create a stifling teaching environment. Many Vietnamese children eventually graduate successfully. However, graduates who begin to work for international companies may need to be retrained.

The necessity for reform is recognized by government officials and in late 2013 the country’s leadership passed a resolution to overhaul the sector. The ambitious approach the government takes to education has so far been successful when it comes to school standards. In fact, Vietnam’s performance during the 2015 international Pisa tests was an impressive achievement; they achieved better scores than most other OECD countries, including Western countries.

However, it is important to note that the Vietnamese education system is finding international investment, and local investment too since more than 21% of government spending goes to education. Alongside their investment in healthcare, the World Bank also issued 150 million USD in two credits to improve the higher education system and to raise school readiness for five year olds. 

Quality of Teaching: Underfunding Can Affect It

As mentioned above, the teaching quality in the classroom depends largely on the individual teacher. If you send your children to a Vietnamese school, they will be expected to remain passively attentive and studious. For children who are used to the teaching methods that are common in Western countries, this may come as a bit of a shock. After all, they may have become accustomed to lively interaction in the classroom.

Public schools are often underfunded and thus cannot offer all the subjects they should or would want to teach. For this reason, private language centers are in high demand. They offer English as a second language to students of all ages who would like to improve their professional opportunities. Expats are often hired to teach these classes. Unfortunately, not every expat is qualified to teach and more often than not, these language courses severely lack in quality.

Common Sense Is Enough to Stay Safe

In general, Vietnam is a safe country. Violent crimes and terrorist threats are rather rare. However, foreigners are often the victim of pick pocketing and other petty crimes. In bigger cities where tourists like to gather, thieves on motorcycles snatch purses, bags, and cameras from pedestrians and cyclo (pedicab) passengers.

When using public transportation, it is important that you only use cyclos that are associated with hotels or restaurants. That way, you will decrease the chances of falling victim to robbery or kidnapping. Airport taxis (noi bai taxi) or official vehicles provided by your hotel are generally safe. In Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, the international rule of staying in any foreign city applies: be cautious and use your common sense.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Alain Nguyen

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