Education in Vietnam is divided into five levels: preschool, primary school, secondary school, high school and higher education. Formal education consists of twelve years of basic education. Basic education consists of five years of primary education, four years of intermediate education, and three years of secondary education. The majority of basic education students are enrolled on a half-day basis.
The main educational goal in Vietnam is improving people’s general knowledge, training quality human resources and nurturing and fostering talent. With one of the highest GDP growth rates in Asia, Vietnam is currently trying to overhaul its education system, with a view to preparing students for the increasing role of English as the language of business, and the importance of internationalizing the education system to maintain the rapid economic growth of the last two decades.
Public kindergartens usually admit children ranging from 18 months to 5 years of age.
Children normally start primary education at the age of six. Education at this level lasts for 5 years and is compulsory for all children.
Children normally start secondary education at the age of eleven. The IGE is a prerequisite entrance examination for secondary schooling. The IGE score determines the schools at which students are able to enroll. The higher the score, the more prestigious the school.
Students normally start secondary education at the age of fifteen. All students in Vietnam are required to take the national Leaving Examination at the end of grade 12 to get a diploma. The Leaving Examination is administered by the Ministry of Education and Training. Students still have to pass their regular end-of-term examinations, along with passing the Leaving Examination.
University entrance is based on the scores achieved in the entrance examination. High school graduates need high scores to be admitted to universities. Securing a place in a public university is considered a major step towards a successful career, especially for those from rural areas or disadvantaged families. The pressure on the candidates therefore remains very high, despite the measures taken to reduce the importance of these exams.
There are four types of educational establishments:
- Public education establishments: established and monitored by the State. The State also nominates their administrators and decides staff quota. The State invests in infrastructure and allocates funding for their regular spending tasks.
- Semi-public educational establishments: set up by the State on the basis of mobilizing organizations and individuals in the society to jointly invest in infrastructure.
- People-founded educational establishments: Social or economic organizations apply for permission from the State to set up an institution with non-State budget capital.
- Private educational establishments: Individuals or groups of individuals apply for permission from the State to set up and invest in the institution by themselves