Anxiety and hopes in the race to one of Vietnam’s top schools

By Ngoc Thanh   June 2, 2017 | 10:57 pm PT
Pictures taken outside exam rooms on Saturday reveal the intense competition for good education in the country.

For some parents and students, summer is not here yet. On Saturday, around 3,400 students in Hanoi get ready to take their entrance exams at the Foreign Language Specialized School, one of the top magnet high schools in Vietnam. There are only 380 places for the next school year in September.


At 6 a.m. Tran Duy Hien and his son from Thai Binh Province wait in front of the school. “My son wants to get into the English class. The exam format has been changed, so we’re a bit worried.” The school for gifted students, with an extremely competitive selection process, also teaches other languages such as Chinese, French, Japanese and Russian.


Many juniors-to-be check their exam prep materials for the last time.


A girl stands next to her mother in front of the exam rooms.


Nguyen Phuc Thanh hopes he can have a place in the Japanese class. “I have studied for four years. I really want to go here, so I’m nervous.”


Le Nhat Linh and Nguyen Dinh Long check a textbook. The boys are more confident than most others.


A mother helps her child check the exam room number on her phone. Many parents come to support their children as the stakes are high. The school has an excellent track record, with most of its graduates ending in top colleges.


Some parents follow the students until they are stopped.


A boy shakes his mother’s hand as he lines up to get into the exam room.


The ongoing heat wave will make the wait even more unbearable for these parents.

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