- Download our Ho Chi Minh City Schools Guide
Ho Chi Minh City is home to most of the expats living in Vietnam and, as a result of the city’s ever-increasing expat population, has seen a growth in the number of private and international schools. These prestigious schools offer an excellent quality of education and state-of-the-art facilities, which are popular with expats as well as wealthy Vietnamese locals.
Vietnam has a good standard of education, with a literacy rate of more than 95 percent. Academic achievement is something that is highly valued and promoted in Vietnamese society.
While international schools remain the most popular option for expat parents moving to Ho Chi Minh City, some choose to enrol their child at a good public school in Vietnam to save on the extremely high cost of international school fees.
Public schools in Ho Chi Minh City
While the standard of education at public schools in Ho Chi Minh City is generally quite good, expat students may find the teaching methods employed in the Vietnamese public system difficult to adjust to.
Students at public schools in Vietnam are expected to study quietly and passively, which contradicts the more innovative learning methods and active class discussions encouraged in Western culture. Vietnamese students are often put under enormous pressure to perform well academically, by both their families and teachers. Most children have extra private tuition after school.
There are, however, a growing number of schools in Ho Chi Minh City that are making a break from traditional Vietnamese methods and offering American-style learning. These more modern public schools tend to have long waiting lists.
International schools in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City offers expats a wide variety of international schooling options. The top international schools tend to employ native English speakers or those who have trained in the country that the particular school is affiliated with.
The major advantage of opting to send an expat student to an international school is that it allows them to make the transition to life in Vietnam with greater ease. International schools allow foreign students to continue studying the same curriculum they studied back home. Furthermore, expat children are given the opportunity to interact with other children who are facing similar challenges of adjusting to life in a new country.
Most international schools in Ho Chi Minh City accept applications throughout the year to accommodate the unpredictable nature of expat placements. Be that as it may, parents should bear in mind that places at the most popular schools fill up fast, so it's best to begin the application process as far in advance as possible.
The application criteria for international schools vary widely. Some have entrance exams that test a child’s English and Mathematics abilities, while others require students to attend an interview before a formal offer is made.
Generally, international school fees in Ho Chi Minh City are exorbitant and increase along with the age of the student. Expat parents should also budget for the additional costs of school uniforms, excursions and stationery.
Special-needs education in Ho Chi Minh City
In the past, Vietnam operated on a policy of separating special-needs students from mainstream schools. That said, since the early 2000s, the country has adopted a more progressive and inclusive approach to education for students with special needs, focusing on integration with mainstream schools and classes. Along with public schools, numerous international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, including Steps Special School and International School Saigon Pearl, offer similar services, with interventions varying depending on the level of care the student needs.
Tutors in Ho Chi Minh City
After-school tutoring is popular in Vietnam, with more than a third of households making use of tutors. Education is highly valued and students often face pressure to succeed, leading to a booming tutoring industry.
Expats will have plenty of options to choose from for everything from subject-specific tutoring to more general language and exam preparation. The right tutor can also help expat children adjust to a new curriculum, providing support as they catch up to their peers. Recommended local companies include Everest Education and International Tutor Group.
►For a list of schools available to expat students, see International Schools in Ho Chi Minh City
"There are plenty of local and international schools. As there are a lot of Asian migrants you can find Singaporean, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese schools in Vietnam. And, because of the history of Vietnam being a French colony, there is still some French influence in the country, such as French schools and cultural events." Check out our interview with French expat Guillaume to learn about the expat experience in HCMC.
"Our children had to go to a school in English which was a language they did not know. However, this has been a great benefit for them." Find out more about relocating the family to HCMC in our expat interview with Javier.
Are you an expat living in Ho Chi Minh City?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ho Chi Minh City. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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