Schools discriminate against weak students for prestige

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Ho Chi Minh City's students with below par academic performances are being left out as their schools look to achieve a 100 percent pass rate in the high school graduation exams, Tuoi Tre reported Monday.

A private high school in Tan Phu District, for example, has had some 20 eleventh-graders transferred to other schools because they were expected to fail the graduation exams this June, the school's principal told the newspaper.

"It is an effort to increase the pass rate from 95 percent last year to 100 percent this year," he said, adding that they would admit only students with good or fairly good performances for the next one or two years.

Another private school in Tan Phu District revealed the same "secret" behind their high pass rate at the graduation exams.

After strict tests to shortlist students during the last summer, the school cut down 12 eleventh-grade classes to seven, Tuoi Tre reported.

One of the students excluded in December said the school asked parents to voluntarily transfer their children to other schools, or they would be sent to "special classes" with much higher tuition fees and tighter schedules.

The student, who wished to be referred to as K., said many of his classmates were in same situation and most of the other schools then rejected their applications saying "there wasn't enough time for reviews to guarantee we would pass the graduation exams."

While K. was admitted to Huu Hau School in Tan Binh District, his classmates did not receive the same opportunity.

"Some of my classmates were so discouraged that they returned to their hometowns to study at supplementary schools or quit studying," K. said.

Another student said his school has asked parents to transfer their children to other schools recommended by the school or let them continue studying at the school on the condition they would make the needed progress and undertake not to violate any of the school's regulations during the summer.

Parents were informed of these conditions at a meeting with school officials at the end of the eleventh grade, he added.

During the probation period, students would be transferred to other schools even when they made very trivial mistakes, according to the student.

Van Duc Kim, principal of the Hoang Dieu School in Tan Binh District, told Tuoi Tre that since the second semester began in February, his school had admitted 40 students from other schools, half of whom were twelfth-graders.

According to Kim, the transfer of students with poor performance would put great pressure on them and make it difficult for them to improve.

In fact, many students were transferred two to three times and some were asked to change schools even when the graduation exams were very near, Tuoi Tre reported.

Worse still, many schools were willing to adjust their students' marks so they could easily be admitted by other schools, according to Tuoi Tre.

Nguyen Tuan Hai, head of Huu Hau High School, which admitted some 20 twelfth-graders from other schools, said some of the students couldn't answer mathematics quizzes at the tenth grade level.

In an interview with Tuoi Tre, Nguyen Hoai Chuong, vice director of HCMC Department of Education and Training, said schools weren't allowed to ask students to transfer to other schools to guarantee their achievements.

"If parents complain, the department will inspect and punish such schools," Chuong stressed.

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