|Ninth graders in a class in Hà Nội's Hoàn Kiếm Secondary Schoo. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng|
HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Thanh Thảo rises at the sound of the 5am alarm, ready to hit the books.
As she gears up for the impending high school entrance exam, early-morning study sessions have become the norm for the ninth-grader.
Gone are the days of leisurely hobbies, as Thảo's recent months have been filled with a gruelling routine of eating, sleeping, and studying.
The unrelenting schedule of supplementary classes can leave her feeling like she is operating on autopilot.
Come 5:30pm, Thảo hastily eats a quick bite before hurrying to her extra class, keen not to be late.
"Every day I go to bed at 11pm, even later, and wake up at 5 am to continue studying," Thảo told Việt Nam News. "Each week I have four extra lessons after class. I don't have free time. If I have, I'll take advantage of that time to sleep."
"Sometimes, I return home at 9:30pm."
"Studying seems to be more stressful when both my parents and I want me to be able to get into Kim Liên High School, one of the good high schools in Hà Nội."
Like Thảo, Hoàng Công Chung, a ninth grader of Vĩnh Hưng Secondary School in Hà Nội's Hoàng Mai District, is also busy with a study schedule.
After school, he has to take part in extra classes in literature, math and English. His daily extra classes often end at 9pm.
He said that he felt under pressure for the coming exam, but he has to try to get into a state-owned high school.
"I encourage myself by thinking about relaxing after the exam," Chung said.
Similarly, Nguyễn Kim Dung in Đống Đa District also hopes her daughter can enrol in Kim Liên High School.
"This is a school with many outstanding achievements in training," said Dung. "Moreover, the percentage of students who can enter good universities of this school is also very high. It will be a very good environment for my daughter to study here."
Trần Khánh Chi, Dung's daughter, said she knew her mother's expectations and she is under pressure with it.
"I used to tell my mother that I could not successfully enrol in Kim Liên High School because the competition is very tough," Chi said.
"My mother always encourages me to try harder. She even signed me up for an extra math class in hopes that my math score would improve on the upcoming exam."
Bùi Thanh Huyền, a literature teacher at Lĩnh Nam Secondary School, Hoàng Mai District, said that many parents are so worried about the upcoming exam that they are putting pressure on their children.
"Teachers in the school always try to help students study and prepare well for the upcoming exam," Huyền said. "Studying at school is enough, there is no need to take extra classes outside of school."
"Studying too much will put pressure on children, and it even has the opposite result."
However, many parents still send their children to several centres to study a subject, according to Huyền.
Nguyễn Kim Oanh, the mother of a ninth grader in Hoàng Mai District, said that she sent her son to two math classes weekly, hoping he could learn the same lessons several times.
"Studying the same lesson many times will help your child remember that lesson better and can do well in the exam if he encounters a problem that he has studied many times."
She said that the entrance exam would take place on June 10-11, and students do not have much time to prepare for the exam.
About 102,000 students will be enrolled in high schools, an increase of about 1,000 students compared to the previous school year. Of this number, 72,000 students can sit in public high schools, accounting for 55.7 per cent, Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economics & Urban Affairs) newspaper reported.
About 30,000 students are enrolled into private high schools and vocational education centres.
“The high school entrance exam is even tougher than the exam to university,” Oanh said. “If your son fails to apply for a university, he/she can apply to other schools. If he cannot enter high school, he will have to stay home."
"To be able to enter university, my son needs to successfully enrol in high school first." — VNS