Plenty of opportunities for secondary students aside from public high schools: educators

July 24, 2023 - 08:46
The most recent high school entrance exams in HCM City saw nearly 96,000 candidates, against the total enrolment quota of almost 77,000 for public high schools.
Students sit a high school entrance exam in HCM City in June. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hoài

HCM CITY — Every year, around 19,000 students in HCM City will not be able to secure places in public high schools following the entrance exams. While plenty of doors remain open to further pursue their studies, choosing which one is a major concern for many parents and students.

The most recent high school entrance exams in HCM City saw nearly 96,000 candidates, against the total enrolment quota of almost 77,000 for public high schools.

With the school choices not limited to the area they live in, the competition is more challenging in higher-rated schools and those in the city centres, with a large number of candidates.

Meanwhile, several schools in the outer areas of the city don’t have enough enrolments to fulfil the quota set.

Schools with the highest entrance scores did not see substantial changes compared to last year. They are Nguyễn Thượng Hiền High School (Tân Bình District) with an entrance score of 25.5; Gia Định High School (Bình Thạnh District) at 24.5; Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai High School (District 3) at 24.25; Nguyễn Hữu Huân High School (Thủ Đức City) at 23.75; and Bùi Thị Xuân High School (District 1) at 23.5.

The lowest entrance score is 10.5, at four high schools in Cần Giờ, Bình Chánh and Củ Chi districts.

The city also counts over 17,000 secondary school graduates who opted out of the exams.

Many of them chose private, vocational schools, continuing education centres, or studying abroad.

In the 2023 - 2024 academic year, it is estimated that the city’s private schools, continuing education centres and vocational schools have the capacity for over 50,000 new students.

In addition to private schools and continuing education centres, HCM City has taken multiple measures to improve the quality and attract more enrolments for vocational schools.

Hồ Tấn Minh, office chief of HCM City Department of Education and Training said the plan is that at least 30 per cent of secondary school graduates will proceed to vocational training.

Following this strategy, the department has been providing career orientation sessions for secondary school students, with the aim to help them find the most suitable option following graduation.

The high school entrance exams can serve as an evaluation tool to help them assess their ability and decide on their own path.


According to Nguyễn Chí Thành, deputy head of the vocational training department (under HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs), the city counts more than 370 vocational education institutions providing training for over 120 occupations.

In District 1, HCM City Vocational College has largely finished its enrolment process, with nearly 600 out of its 4,800 enrolment quotas intended for secondary school graduates.

Upon graduation, they can choose to participate in the national high school graduation exams, or proceed to a higher level of training at the school.

Dr Trần Kim Tuyền, the college’s rector said that in recent years, students tend to choose to learn mechanics, computer-aided design (CAD), electricity, refrigeration and air conditioning engineering, or industrial electronics.

More than 90 per cent of the college’s fresh graduates are employed. This figure is 100 per cent for automotive technology and precision mechanics.

Dr Tuyền said: “At our two campuses, we have invested in nearly 60 classrooms, 35 practice rooms/workshops, 12 specialised classrooms, nine computer rooms, along with two libraries with over 1,000 titles, as well as 24 dorm rooms for nearly 4,000 students.

The college also has preferential policies on tuition fees for students at the intermediate level, and for those studying metal cutting at the college level, he added.

Vocational school students during a lessson at a mechanical workshop in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hoài

This year, Nguyễn Tất Thành Intermediate School in Gò Vấp District also saw hundreds of admissions, most in nursing, pharmacy, fashion and garment technology, automotive technology, industrial and civil electrical engineering, banking and finance, among others.

Aiming to keep their training programme grounded in the real business world, the school’s dean Hoàng Quốc Long said that this is a good opportunity for students to have access to new technology, as well as industry experts and recruiters.

The school also hosts vocational competitions for students to gain practical experience, who can be a talent pool for businesses in the future.

Meanwhile, HCM City Industry and Trade College has established partnerships with local businesses and other schools abroad, increasing its students’ opportunities for internships, employment as well as higher education.

Change of perspective

Vice chairman of HCM City Vocational Education Association Trần Anh Tuấn observed that in the past, if students fail to get into public high schools, they will often choose to study abroad or at private schools, and only five per cent of them opt for vocational schools.

However, in recent years, with a clear direction and investment in vocational training and continuing education, as well as learning and job opportunities from businesses, parents’ perspective towards vocational schools has been changing.

Tuấn said: “Nowadays, vocational training is an opportunity due to its many scholarships, low tuition fees, and short-term and practical training programmes that help learners secure job.

“Vocational training help reduce the pressure on students and share the financial burden with the family.

“More importantly, studying at vocational schools allow them both a general education degree and a vocational degree, paving the way to college and university level education.

“They can also work in the country or abroad with a high level of salary.”

Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Lan, mother to a student at the College of Technology II (Thủ Đức City), said that vocational schools nowadays not only care about admissions but also graduates, with a focus on improving training quality and job reference.

She noted that however, for students to be successful in general and vocational education, schools need to put more efforts into career orientation and consultation, so that young people can have the right choice and good progress in the occupation they have chosen, thereby becoming high-quality human resources for the society.

Đặng Minh Sự, a representative of HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, noted that career orientation must ensure that students choose the occupation that they like, or suit the local employment needs and the national development trends. This will increase their chance of landing a job after graduation.

The right consultancy also helps reduce pressure on public schools and on parents and students, while also encouraging young people to pursue the career of their choice or their study at affiliated schools.

Sharing the same perspectives, Lê Công Hòa, director of Nguyễn Tất Thành Intermediate School’s Department of Admission, Communication and Event Organising, added parental guidance also plays a major role in a student’s success with the understanding of their own child.

Hòa said: “Vocational training is not the end of the road. Students can succeed if they and their family know how to take advantage of it, especially when the labour market is in dire need of skilled workforce.” — VNS