Education always plays a central role in Vietnamese culture and society. Vietnamese people believe that virtues are attained through learning. More parents sacrifice to ensure that their children obtain the good education. With the Vietnam’s increasing well-being, rising disposable income, young population, and the expanding emergence of high-income and middle-income classes, the demand of a higher quality education has been growing significantly. However, the public education system is heavily overloaded and far from able to meet people’s demand or expectation. Therefore the private education sector was incepted in early 1990s and has since encouraged though Government’s policies have been somewhat inconsistent.
Students in the state sector now bear a significant share of the cost of education that include tuition fees (most of which are subsidized by the Government), books, uniforms and school supplies yet the quality tends to worsen due to the pressures of over-capacity and student results. That’s how the private sector has expanded at a steady pace: private primary enrollment (2010: 40,378) makes up only 0.6% of total primary enrollment but has increased at 5-year (2005-2010) CAGR of 7.2% compared to negative 2.3% of the entire primary enrollment, due to narrowing child population; private secondary – both lower and upper – enrollment (2010: 970,560) accounts for over 10% of total secondary education, and is slightly contracting at a lower rate than the entire secondary enrollment (5-year CAGR of 0.1% and -2.4%, respectively), owing to, again decreasing child population.
Currently, private schools are categorized into two types: pure local, bilingual and pure international schools. Pure local private schools only do well in terms of teaching quality and financial performance at the primary level. Bilingual schools do well at the lower and upper secondary levels. Pure international schools do well at all levels from kindergarten to college, although at lower levels a large number of their students are children of expatriates or returning overseas Vietnamese.