International schools look to profit from post-WTO education boom

April 7, 2007


HCM CITY — Nguyen Thuy Quynh and her partners are planning to open a new international school in anticipation of higher enrolment following the country’s membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The one-hectare school, expected to open in August, would have a modern campus situated in the fast-developing area of District 7, Quynh said.

“Because of the WTO, Viet Nam will have many opportunities to do business with other countries,” said Quynh, deputy director of Khai Sang Joint-Stock Co.

“The young generation must have the knowledge and qualifications to work with foreign partners, and we need to train the young from an early age to become skilled professionals.”

Quynh said the new Renaissance International School Saigon (RISS) would fill a need in the city for international-standard education.

Although as many as 45 existing schools claim to be ‘international’, only a few — including British International School (BIS), International School Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon South International School and ABC International School — have adopted a British or American curriculum with international baccalaureate preparation taught by certified native English-speaking teachers.

Of these schools, BIS has attracted the most foreign students, with a total of 1,200, while the others have an enrolment of about 500 each.

The BIS primary levels are nearly full, and Saigon South International School and ABC International School have limited spaces, reserved only for certain nationalities and grades.

The schools said they were trying to ensure that no single nationality was over-represented.

Quynh said quality education for expatriates’ children was in demand, and the current shortage could create a problem in the near future.

Her school will have a 350-seat auditorium equipped with high-end equipment, computers with broadband and wireless internet access in classrooms.

Alun Thomas, RISS’s headmaster, said the school would use the International Primary Curriculum and predicted that teachers would not be difficult to find.

“There’s now an awareness of Viet Nam as a good destination to work,” he said, “Viet Nam is also very central for traveling during holidays, another appealing feature.”

Quynh’s decision to create the school, she said, was based not only on need but national pride as well.

“All the international schools here have been invested in by foreigners so we thought there was no reason why Vietnamese could not invest in a real international school for Vietnamese and expatriate children,” she said. — VNS

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