High schools for gifted students enjoying great educational benefits

Recent hot debates in the community about the existence of schools for the gifted cannot deny the importance of this type of educational institute in the national education development strategy.

Students of Tran Dai Nghia High School for the Gifted (District 1 of HCMC) are taking part in practice lessons (Photo: SGGP)

The model of school for the gifted appeared for the first time in 1965 with the birth of a maths high school for the gifted under the Faculty of Mathematics (Hanoi General University at that time or University of Science – Vietnam National University-Hanoi now). This model was then copied in several provinces, teaching thousands of talented students in different fields after 60 years of development.

The Foreign Language High School for the Gifted under the University of Languages and International Studies (Vietnam National University-Hanoi) plans to choose 525 excellent students for its 10th grade classes this year. The school entrance exam will take place at the beginning of this June.

In the Central region, Quoc Hoc High School for the Gifted (sited in Thua Thien-Hue Province) intends to increase its 10th grade admission quantity by 30 students compared to last year. Candidates must have good academic results and morality status in all grades of junior high as well as a ‘good’ ranking for their junior-high school graduation exam.

Students of Foreign Language High School for the Gifted (Hanoi) are participating in the opening ceremony of the contest for nationally excellent students at high school level in the year of 2022-2023

In HCMC, Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Education and Training informed that this year, students have three options when registering for a high school for the gifted (an increase of 1 compared to previous years), giving them more chances to enter these elite state-owned educational institutes. However, the ratio to be chosen is never lower than 3.5.

Teacher Bui Thi Thanh Chau – also a former student – from Tran Dai Nghia High School for the Gifted (in HCMC) informed that 20 years ago, the chance for a Vietnamese student to participate in international contests or to apply for a scholarship to study abroad was not as high as it is now. Thanks to her learning in this school, she could obtain international certificates for foreign language skills, becoming her advantage for a better future.

Afte 16 years teaching, she commented that the curricula in these special high schools have experienced many changes to satisfy current demands in training and educational reform. Both students and the staff in these schools are more active than before. Not only do they focus on academic achievements, but they also try to achieve good results in other fields like arts and sports.

Students of Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted (District 5, HCMC) in the Informatics lesson

Teacher Le Thanh Trung from Hung Vuong High School – former student of Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted (HCMC) – said that with a more open learning environment, students are encouraged to think critically and pursue their dreams. Along with that is a uniform studying capability of learners here, greatly boosting their academic performance and inspiring teachers in their professional activities.

Principal Nguyen Phu Tho of Quoc Hoc High School for the Gifted (in Thua Thien-Hue Province) stressed that excellent graduation results from a university does not earn a stable position for a teacher in such a demanding high school. These educators must repeatedly improve their expertise and other soft skills as well as teaching methods to satisfy the needs of their students.

According to the organization and operation regulations of high schools for the gifted (issued by the Ministry of Education and Training along with Circular No.05/2023), these educational institutes are prioritized as to investments in infrastructure and equipment as well as human resources allocation.

In addition, the People’s Committees of provinces where these schools are located or the universities in charge of these schools are allowed to decide scholarship and reward policies for students winning national and international awards or having outstanding academic results. Meanwhile, the school fees at these schools are the same as those in regular public ones, which suit the general income level of the majority of families in the country.

This means with the same fee, students in high school for the gifted enjoy a better learning environment and more rewards, not to mention various preferential policies. That is why a position in such a school is a fierce fight among learners, especially in large cities like HCMC , Hanoi or Da Nang City.

A self-study session of the 11th graders of Le Quy Don High School for the Gifted (Son Tra District of Da Nang City) (Photo: SGGP)

When the Ministry of Education and Training does not allow the operation of junior-high grades in a high school for the gifted in Hanoi and HCMC, there are two solutions proposed. Hanoi – Amsterdam High School for the Gifted decides to permanently stop admission for the 6th grade from now on.

Meanwhile, in HCMC, Tran Dai Nghia High School for the Gifted is divided into two new schools with separate legal entity: Tran Dai Nghia Junior-Senior High School and Tran Dai Nghia Senior High School for the Gifted. This allows the maintenance of a competence assessment exam for the to-be 6th graders to enter the school like it has been done for 20 years.

Before this, from the academic year of 2015-2016, Da Nang City has stopped the training for gifted students at junior-high grades. Instead, talented learners enter schools throughout the city until grade 9, when they officially take part in an exam to choose excellent students for the senior-high level. This results in more equal training quality among junior-high schools and reduces unwanted pressure on learners at these grades.

In the process of educational reform, schools for the gifted have successfully fulfilled their role of training the talented and leading the whole educational system. They have done that via frequent experience exchange activities with other public schools, regular updates of expertise for new subjects and teaching methods, implementation of modern evaluation tools. In the upcoming time, this model should be refined to encourage the comprehensive development of learners with a clear focus on innovation and emotional intelligence.

Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Kim Son

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