First-grade enrollment has Saigon parents lining up overnight

By Le Nguyen   June 19, 2023 | 07:57 pm PT
First-grade enrollment has Saigon parents lining up overnight
Parents line up in front of Saigon Practical Primary School at 4 a.m. to apply first-grade enrollment files for their children, June 19, 2023. Photo acquired by VnExpress
Desperate for their children to get into a good school, parents of incoming first-graders began queuing in front of Saigon Practical Primary School at 2 a.m. to submit applications.

The school, which is run by Saigon University in District 3, only started accepting applications at 7:30 a.m. on Monday.

But Cat Diem showed up at 4 a.m.

And Diem said she was not the first one. When she arrived at the school, it was still dark but more than 20 other parents were already waiting.

"The first one showed up at 2 a.m.," she said.

"I’m a state worker and therefore belong to the priority group to get into the school, but still I’m worried I could miss the chance."

Eventually, Diem got ticket No.28. The school will only accept 175 first grade students for the upcoming school year.

Arriving at 4:45 a.m., Bich Ngoc got ticket No.75.

Ngoc said the school organized the process with a guard on duty to issue ordinal numbers and note down parents’ names and therefore, no one has to fight anyone for a better spot in line.

"This school is well-equipped and applies advanced teaching method that creates less pressure for students, so I’d really like my kid to start here," said Ngoc.

The school has previously announced it would give priority to children whose parents work at Saigon University, the school’s partners and other state agencies.

It will announce the results of the enrollment process on July 15.

A representative from the school who requested anonymity said unlike 6th grade students who are selected for admission based on test scores and foreign language ability, first graders can only be chosen based on priority groups and the basis of first come first serve.

The school is planning to upgrade its facilities so that it can admit more students in the coming years.

Established in 2019, Saigon Practical Primary School is one of 16 elementary schools in HCMC that implement a scholastic model of "advanced international integration."

The model requires each class to have less than 35 students and all teachers must be able to communicate fluently in English.

The school's tuition fee is VND1.5 million (US$64) per month, excluding other fees such as those for lunch and bus rides.

By the end of 2022, HCMC had 2,355 schools. Of them, 1,350 were public schools, collecting fees of about VND900,000-2.7 million per month.

Tuition fees for non-public schools range between VND20-270 million per year.

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