How Competitive is the education system in Vietnam?

Vietnam has about 23,5 million students with approximately 1,5 million undergraduate students while we only have 460 universities and colleges all over the country. When I was in ninth grade, I had to pass the high school entrance examination with the proportion of two to one, which meant there were still 22,783 students who must study in private schools.

Because of the different methods of enrollment, pupils in Vietnam need to pass the high school and the university entrance examinations in their school lives. As a result, the competitiveness in our education system is extremely fierce, students have to study notably hard to win over the other ones. The real situation will be analysed in the following paragraphs.

#1 Competitiveness in getting into schools for gifted pupils

Since kids are studying pre-schools, parents have prepared for their primary schools. They must ensure that their children will learn in a good school so that their kids can be as talented as the others’ children. In 2019, there were hundreds of parents waiting for a school to open for admission in Hanoi. When it comes to secondary schools, which is the premise for choosing high schools, it is usually believed that studying in a first-rate secondary school brings students a higher chance to pass the entrance exam of gifted high schools. This is caused by the fact that some gifted schools provide a better environment to pupils, students there can be taught by highly qualified teachers and they will have more extracurricular activities than the other schools. However, consequently, students have to study extremely hard just to get into these schools as their parents’ expectations. In 2021, there are nearly 3000 files of pupils have been handed in Hanoi – Amsterdam High school for the Gifted while their target is only about 650 students, which means the proportion is five to one.

#2 Competitiveness in class

Studying in a specialized school is not enough, children must have the highest score in their classes. Because there are numerous universities in Vietnam that have changed their enrollment into the application forms, pupils need to have a nice school report, which includes high positions in class such as the monitor and high marks. Moreover, parents in Vietnam tend to have a misconception that their kids must be more talented than others’ children, they use their kids’ scholastic achievements as a way to show off with everyone. Therefore, they will be extremely ashamed if their children’s scores are not high, which leads to the fact that they force their kids to learn really hard. I have studied in specialized classes for the whole time of my school life, students in my classes have a tendency to study harder and harder to get higher scores. It is like an endless race when someone gets the highest marks and he or she will be surpassed by the others.

#3 Competitiveness in the university entrance exam

The university entrance exam is known as the most popular examination in Vietnam that nearly 100% of students participate in to get into good universities. Different from gifted high schools, studying in a high-quality university can help students to be employed by large companies much easier than low-ranking universities. Subsequently, every single high school pupil learns tremendously hard so that they will have a chance to study in first-rate universities. In 2014, while Foreign Trade University in Hanoi had only 2350 norms, the number of students who wanted to study here was approximately 11,000. 

#4 Competitiveness in universities’ scholarships

In Vietnam, several students are really talented but do not have enough money to study at universities, as a result, various universities offer their students with high scholarships if their scholastic achievements are high. Nevertheless, the scholarships are extremely difficult to get as the requirements are all hard and the pupils have to pass multiple rounds until they win the scholarships. Take RMIT University as a typical example, each year, RMIT provides 12 scholarships for the best students from all over the country, students who can win one of these scholarships must have done the most extracurricular activities, have the highest scores and highest language certifications such as IELTS qualifications. Sometimes, winning a university’s scholarship is even harder than getting into a high-ranking university as everyone will try their best to get a chance to have the lower school fee.

In conclusion, studying in Vietnam is an exceedingly exacting work because the students here must learn enormously hard to win over the others. Even though the fact that our education system is competitive may help to motivate pupils to study harder, as a student in this country, I think that if we have a chance to change our education system, we can reduce the competitiveness in our system without making students lazy in some ways. 

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