11-year-old math talent accepted by private school

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Ho Chi Minh City-based British Vietnamese International School (BVIS) has accepted an 11-year-old girl who recently grabbed headlines after she applied for enrollment into a public high school despite the fact she had has never attended school.

The foreign-invested private school announced in a release it will grant a full scholarship worth VND2 billion (US$96,000) for Pham Thanh Ngoc, hailed from the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, for her seven-year study program at the school.

Michael Deveney, the school's rector, said Ngoc won the scholarship after she scored excellently on a math test for 12th graders at the school.

The school's teachers and leaders have agreed to design a special study program for Ngoc she will be assigned to a class for seventh graders to learn English-taught subjects and Vietnamese-taught literature, geography and history, while she will attend another math class with other 12th graders.

The daughter of two Lam Dong residents, a 52-year-old farmer named Pham Xuan Thanh and his wife, has been home schooled since she turned six.

In early August, Thanh petitioned the provincial education department that his daughter be admitted to the Nguyen Viet Xuan High School in Gia Hiep District for the 12th grade.

In his letter, Thanh claimed Ngoc, with her special math ability, had finished learning programs equivalent to those of the 11th grade.

He said Ngoc wanted to be accepted by the Nguyen Viet Xuan High School so that she could sign up for Duong len dinh Olympia (The road to Olympia Peak) a popular quiz show for Vietnamese high school students.

The request was turned down.

Home schooling may be a normal thing in some countries, but it is rather rare in Vietnam where academic records are accorded great importance, sometimes excessively so.

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