We hear a lot about how students in countries like China and Vietnam spend long hours in school and devote all their free time to studying for high stakes tests. The Houston Chronicle posted a guest blog yesterday that offers more perspective - and details - on this through the eyes of a former Vietnamese student.
Tuong Hoang, now a senior in the Houston Independent School District, attended school in Ho Chi Minh City through 10th grade. His blog explains some of the ways that Vietnamese education differs greatly from that in America - although not necessarily for the better. Check out the whole post here. Below are some of his key points:
• Schools generally start at 7 a.m. Before classes on Monday, there is usually a half hour of a “greeting the flag” session, during which students sing the national anthem and listen to a housekeeping talk by a school official in the courtyard. Elementary and middle school can end at around noon, but some can choose to extend hours. For high school students, noon breaks are allowed, but sometimes students are expected to return to school for classes until 5:30 p.m.
• Tuition fees, paid monthly, are burdens to many low-income families. Textbook fees also are an impediment to education. Books are often printed in low quality and thus cannot be reused after a year or two. The curriculum changes every few years. Scholarships are rarely given.
• Students are expected to take a heavy compulsory course load. The students need to take the following classes starting from middle school: Vietnamese literature, math, biology, physics, chemistry (starting in 8th grade), history, geography, civics, foreign language (the most common is English, but French and Chinese are offered at some specialized schools), information technology, physical education, music and art (these two separate classes are not at the high school level).