Education in Vietnam is a state-run system of public and private education run by the Ministry of Education and Training. It is divided into five levels: preschool, primary school, secondary school, high school, and higher education. Formal education consists of twelve years of basic education. Basic education consists of five years of primary education, four years of intermediate education, and three years of secondary education. The majority of basic education students are enrolled on a half-day basis. The main education goal in Vietnam is “improving people’s general knowledge, training quality human resources, and nurturing and fostering talent.”
Vietnam is known for its curriculum that is deemed highly competitive. Secondary education is one of the most significant social issues in the country: designated schools known as “Specialised High Schools” (Trường Trung học phổ thông chuyên) offer additional extensive courses, are generally regarded as prestigious, and demand high entrance examination test scores. Higher education is seen as fundamental in Vietnam. Entrance to university is determined through the National High School Graduation Examination (NHSGE) test. The higher the entrance test score, the more highly regarded the institution will be.
Currently experiencing a high GDP growth rate, Vietnam is attempting to expand its education system. In 2012, estimated national budget for education was 6.3%. In the last decade, Vietnamese public reception of the country’s education system has been mixed due to its inflexible nature and its tests. Citizens have been critical of the curriculum, which has led to social issues including depression, anxiety, and increasing suicide rates. There have been comments from the public that schools should opt for a more flexible studying program, with less emphasis on tests and more focus on developing life skills. In response to public opinion, the Ministry of Education and Training has implemented a number of education reforms.