Dozens of organizations throughout Vietnam are hoping to cash on parents’ demand for meaningful experiences for their children by offering courses which promise to equip students with language, critical thinking, and STEM skills.
As traditional summer courses fall out of style in Vietnam, summer camps and courses designed to offer a more diverse set of learning opportunities are popping up throughout the country’s major cities.
Thousands of dollars for a summer
“I signed my child up for a STEM – robotics course that cost VND16 million [US$685] for six weeks,” Vuong Phuong Nga, a mother in Binh Thanh District in Ho Chi Minh City, said.
Nga explained that “it isn’t exactly a small amount of money but, my husband says STEM is becoming an invaluable skillset and my children should be exposed to it.”
STEM, short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is one of the hottest trends in education, not just in Vietnam, but around the globe, with parents hoping that exposing their children to such disciplines will improve their ability compete in the classroom.
The course Nga signed her child up for is only one of the many courses that claim to teach children knowledge they may be missing out on during the school year.
Full-day classes focused on English, critical mathematics, theatrical, dance, and singing, are catching the interest of parents willing to shell out VND20 million ($860) to 30 million ($1,300) for a six-week course, inclusive of meals and uniforms.
|Students of Ky Dong Elementary School (District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) sing during a summer music course. Photo: Nhu Hung / Tuoi Tre|
International Schools in Ho Chi Minh City also hold similar classes but with a more varied range of content, including physical education classes, STEM classes, and field trips to farms and rural areas.
Courses at such institutions typically cost VND36 million ($1,540) to 42 million ($1,800).
Other courses are designed to let children learn and play at the same time, promising to “shape children’s personality” by exposing students to issues such as environment pollution, environmental protection, sustainable living, and animal welfare.
And there are also course options relating to natural resources, outer space, carpentry, and engineering.
“The children will learn to swim, play basketball, conduct simple experiments, and participate in contests,” a salesperson for one summer course explained.
He added that a four-week course costs VND 16 million ($690) per student, not including meals, swimming, or coaching for basketball and swimming.
But even at such steep prices, many parents don’t necessarily expect their children to gain much from the activities.
“I don’t really hope my child learns anything specific,” a parent in Cau Giay District, Hanoi said after signing her child up for a summer course.
"I just want them to be more activites and participate in activities and useful games."
Nonetheless, the demand for these courses is huge.
While most courses start advertising at the beginning of May, many, including the most expensive, announce being sold out within a few weeks.
|Children sit at computers during a summer course. Photo: Nhu Hung / Tuoi Tre|
A summer of exploring
“Strange Professions” is a program offered by an elementary and junior high school in Hanoi where participating students are given the opportunity to try their hand at “rare jobs” such as a Youtuber, archeologist, and taste-tester.
Similar one-week programs cost from VND1-1.5 million ($64) per person, with transportation fee excluded.
In addition, there are also courses and camps for students to spend their summer abroad, such that of Hanoi Academy school, which offers courses in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Singapore.
Such opportunities retail at sky-high prices, with a camp in the U.S. and Australia costing $5,100 – 5,800 for three weeks, a two-week camp in Canada costing $6,000, and camps in Singapore and the Philippines costing around $2,600.