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The Vietnam K-12 Education System

The Ministry of Education and Training manages the education sector in Vietnam and is responsible for setting up of policies for all levels of education. 

Education until the primary level is free. However, parents are required to pay for the textbooks, school supplies and other related things. Beyond this age, tuition fee is charged.  

Compulsory Education

Education in Vietnam is compulsory from ages 6 to 11. 

K-12 Education System: Detailed

In Vietnam, there is 12 years of formal education, which are split up into the following levels:

Pre-primary education: Consists of preschools

General education: As per the education law of 2005 (article 26), general education encompasses
  • Primary education
  • Lower secondary education
  • Upper secondary education

Early Childhood Education- Preprimary Education

Pre-primary education in Vietnam is offered by kindergartens and nursery schools. This level of education is optional and prepares children for school. It also develops the initial elements of personality through organizing playful activities. This level of education is offered by public as well as private sector. ECE comprises of-
  • Creches: for children aged 3 months to 3 years
  • Kindergarten: for children aged 3-6 years

Primary Education

This level of education is compulsory to attend in Vietnam. The primary education curricular emphasize on developing the mathematics skills and civics. This level develops the basic skills and knowledge required for entry into lower secondary schools. 
  • Duration: 5 years
  • Grades: 1-5
  • Ages: 6-11
  • Certificate awarded: Certificate of primary education
Primary education is split up into two phases:

Phase 1: This phase covers grades 1, 2 and 3
  • Subject offered:  Mathematics, morality, Vietnamese, physical education, art, and nature and society. 
Phase 2: This phase includes grades 4 and 5 
  • Subjects: Mathematics, Vietnamese, music, morality, physical education, geography, science, arts, history, and basic techniques.
Upon successful completion of the primary schooling, students can either go for secondary education that lasts for 4 years or professional training that lasts for 2 years. 

Curriculum: Mathematics, arts, Vietnamese language, morality, sports and hygiene, natural and social science.

Assessment: At the primary level, pupils are assessed on a continuous basis through coursework and written as well as oral exams. At the end of each term, exams are held that evaluates the student’s performance. The provincial education authorities are responsible for conducting examination

Secondary Education

Secondary education is divided into lower secondary and upper secondary. 

Lower Secondary Education (In Vietnamese: Trung học cơ sở)

Lower secondary education is not mandatory to attend. Students must have finished primary schooling for admission into lower secondary school. 
  • Grades: 6-9
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Ages: 11-15
Curriculum : Foreign language, mathematics, art, physical education, Vietnamese language and literature, music, biology, history, chemistry, civics, geography, physics, and technology.
At the end of lower secondary education, students are required to sit for a national examination that is developed and managed by the Ministry of Education and Training. 

Certificate awarded:  After successful completion of the lower secondary studies, pupils are conferred with the award of lower secondary education graduation diploma (In Vietnamese: bằng tốt nghiệp trung học cơ sở). With this award, students can either go for upper secondary school studies, or a vocational or technical education. 

Upper Secondary Education (Trung học phổ thong)

Students must have completed lower secondary school and pass an entrance examination in order to gain admittance into the Upper secondary school .
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Grades: 10-12
  • Ages: 15-18
At this educational level, there are 3 different education systems:

Academic upper secondary education: This upper secondary educational level lasts for 3 years

Vocational Training: Comprises of Long term and short term. The long term lasts for 1 to 3 years, while the short term lasts for less than one year.

Secondary Technical and Vocational Education: This level lasts for 3 to 4 years

Types of Schools

At the upper secondary level, there are 4 different types of school:
  • High schools 
  • Specialized general education schools
  • International Schools: There are many international schools in Vietnam
  • Vocation and Technical Secondary schools

Types of Streams 

At the upper secondary level, students must choose among the 3 different streams:
  • Natural science
  • Technology
  • Social sciences and Foreign Languages
Mandatory Subjects in all the three streams: Vietnamese language, foreign language, literature, arts, history, biology, civics education, mathematics, physics, geography, chemistry, technology, and Sports and Military education. 
 
Also, pupils undertake an additional 6 hours a week for advanced training in their specialization area or stream. Following are the subjects covered in the upper secondary level streams: 
  • Stream- Natural Science  Biology, mathematics, physics, and chemistry
  • Stream- Social Science: Foreign languages, literature, history, and geography 
The upper secondary mathematics curriculum comprises of: Analytical geometry, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

Assessment at the Upper Secondary Level:  Students are assessed on a continuous basis through coursework and examinations- oral as well as written. The exams are conducted at the end of each term. Pupils who do not pass the exams must reappear for the same before the commencement of the next term.  Students can repeat only one grade in upper secondary school. 

Upon successful completion of the upper secondary education, students must sit for national examination. Students are assessed on 4 major subjects: foreign language, mathematics, one science subject, and literature. After passing the exam, they are given a diploma known as Bang Tốt Nghiệp Phố Thong Trung Học. Upper secondary students with good academic records, scores and passing of national exam can go for higher education. 

Secondary Level Technical and Vocational Education

Secondary technical education provide education and training in a broad range of areas, such as teacher training, engineering and technology, banking, arts and cultural studies, allied health professions, and economics. The courses offered require 1-4 years of study and lead to a vocational secondary education graduation diploma (bằng trung học chuyen nghiệp). This level may take 1-2 years after the completion of the general secondary education.

At the secondary level, technical and vocational education is split up into two groups:

Professional secondary education and vocational training:  The professional secondary education provides fundamental knowledge and practical skills of a particular vocation.  It also upgrades their self-employability and enhances their professional skills. Students who graduate from this level are eligible to enter the university or college in Vietnam.

Vocational training: The vocational training provides practical skills of a particular professional. Such courses are provided by several institutions that are managed by the General Department of Vocational Training (GDVT) under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). At the secondary level, vocational training is provided in vocational secondary schools, where a blend of general education and skill training is provided.

Levels of Technical and Vocational Education (TVE)

The TVE programmes are divided into three levels depending on the ability and expertise:
  •  Elementary: These courses are for all qualified individuals
  • Intermediate: These are for lower secondary graduates who wish to enter into 3 to 4 years programmes; or for upper secondary graduates who want to enroll in 1-2 year courses. Vocational secondary schools and professional secondary schools offer intermediate level TVE programmes. 
  • Advanced: These courses are provided only in post-secondary institutions such as universities and colleges.

Examination

National Graduation Examination

The National Graduation Examination is needed in order to take admittance into the higher education institution in Vietnam. It is conducted in June and includes 6 subjects, each of which is graded out of 10 points. Students must score at least 30 points in order to pass the examination.

Admission Procedure

Students who wish to study at the primary or secondary schools in Vietnam must apply directly to the school along with following documents:
  • Application form: This can be taken from the concerned school
  • Birth certificate
  • Family record or residence permit: This is applicable for international students
  • School records and results from the previous year: Including grades, scores and subject studied
  • Medical report and Vaccinations proof 
Admission procedure varies depending on the school, so contact the respective school to know more about the same. 

School Year

The school year in Vietnam commences from September and ends in May. 

School week: The school week of Vietnamese state schools is from Monday to Saturday. Also, there are two shifts, morning or afternoon. All the schools are closed on public holidays.

School Leaving Credentials

  • Certificate of Primary Education
  • Certificate of Lower Secondary Education
  • Secondary School Graduation Certificate
  • Junior High School Certificate (Bằng Tốt nghiệp Trung Học Cơ Sở)
  • Non-formal High School Certificate (Bằng Tốt Nghiệp Bổ Tuc Văn Hoa)
  • Senior High School Certificate (Bằng Tốt Nghiệp Trung Học Phổ Thong)
  • Technical and Vocational High School Certificate (Bằng Tốt Nghiệp Trung Học Dạy Nghề)
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