A Thanh Nien survey conducted at more than 140 primary schools in four major cities and two central provinces found that, despite a government ban on after-school classes for primary students, 74.6 percent attend them.
Thanh Nien reporters gathered parent opinions between April 7 and 21 at both top-range urban schools and remote schools in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Can Tho, Quang Nam, and Binh Dinh. Over 800 survey forms were collected and sent to the HCMC-based Institute for Educational Research for analysis.
Attendance ratios ranged from 65.2 percent among primary school kids in Binh Dinh Province and 88.2 percent in Da Nang.
More than half of the parents reported wanting their children to review lessons of the day and study advanced materials.
Some parents, particularly those in HCMC and Da Nang, said they used the classes as a method of child care while they worked while others said they wanted to make teachers happy by paying for extra classes.
For those reasons, the respondents said they subjected their children (aged 6-11) to round-the-clock education.
Most classes began immediately after the end of the normal school day and/or during weekends. The extra classes were sometimes conducted on school grounds or at the homes of teachers and students.
Peer pressure and demanding curricula
According to many parents, their children lose more than they gain from the extra classes.
They lose essential time for play and relaxation, which proves critical to the development of creativity and life skills--even those necessary for successful academic careers, such as self-study skills and team work.
They only gain a honed ability to complete book exercises and score well on exams.
Though they questioned the developmental value of the classes, many parents reported signing their children up due to peer pressure.
Many in that demographic said that classes had become the norm and they fear their children could fall behind without participating in them.
They also want their children to be better prepared to enter secondary schools for gifted students.
But 25 percent of parents in Hanoi (and lower rates of those in other localities) also said basic primary school curricula are so demanding that their children need extra classes just to keep up.
Around half of parents sign their children up for extra classes taught by their primary school teachers because, they say, those instructors know their weaknesses.
Others reported signing up for after-hours courses taught by certain teachers to ensure preferential treatment for their kids.
Although nearly 60 percent of parents said teachers don't push their children to take after-hours classes, 11 percent said teacher pressure did factor into their decision to send them.
The 11 percent cited repression, unreasonably bad marks and constant teacher complaints about their children's performance as influencing their decision to enroll them.
International inspectors have ranked education among the most corrupt sectors in Vietnam, wherein wealthy parents pay bribes to get their children into top schools, including public ones.
Such reports also note that scores and certificates are of utmost importance in Vietnam in terms of assessing a child or future employee.