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Things to consider when choosing an international school



An accredited international curriculum, qualified teachers and modern facilities help develop well-rounded students to become global citizens.

Compared to a decade ago, more and more parents and students choose international schools because of their curriculum, high standards, and educational environment.

With many years experience in the educational sector, Barry Sutherland, head of American International School Vietnam (AISVN), recommends specific criteria to evaluate a qualified international school that parents should consider when investing in their children’s future, such as teaching program, international accreditation, faculty and facilities.

Innovative international education

Curriculum is one of the most important criteria when choosing a school, Sutherland said. Many students who study at an international school plan to study abroad after finishing middle school or graduating high school. Therefore, it is an advantage to study a program that is transferable and accepted in many countries around the world.

Qualified learning programs help develop a well-rounded student not only in academics but also in essential life skills. Educating students to become global citizens is part of many international schools’ mission.

Sutherland said that currently, the gold standard International Baccalaureate Program (IB) is accepted worldwide, and among the top 3 global curriculums. By following IB, students may easily transfer to any highly recognized international schools in Asia, Europe or North America. The teaching program focuses on developing well-rounded and balanced students who can think for themselves.

With these advantages, some international schools in Vietnam have adopted the IB program. Currently, AISVN is one of the best international schools in Ho Chi Minh City providing IB Continuum Programs from Early Years to Grade 12, including Primary Years Program (PYP), Middle Years Program (MYP) and Diploma Program (DP).

AISVN grade 5 students discussed and presented ideas with the homeroom teacher.

AISVN grade 5 students discuss and present ideas with their homeroom teacher. Photo by AISVN

Vietnamese values

According to Sutherland, in addition to the international standard learning program, schools should focus on sustaining Vietnamese values while operating in Vietnam. A recent survey from AISVN’s community showed among more than 20 suggested values, the four most popular were Family, Education, Respect and Personal Responsibility.

AISVN integrates these values throughout its lessons, including various extracurricular activities and experiential trips. Many service learning activities combine with different organizations such as HeartBeat Vietnam to fundraise for congenital heart defects, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to help street kids or children with disabilities and rescues kids from slavery and human trafficking, and Song Foundation to fundraise for Vietnamese regions struck by natural disasters. These are just a few existing partnerships that create opportunities for students to learn how to empathize, support charitable causes and how to make an impact.

Parents visited AISVN in March 2021 to choose a school for their children.

Parents visit AISVN in March 2021 to choose a school for their children. Photo by AISVN

Accredited by trusted international organizations

An international school that is accredited by a trusted organization is an important factor for parents to choose a school. Sutherland stated top trustworthy organizations in education includes International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This is quality control for parents.

The schools have to go through a rigorous and comprehensive review process by an external board, covering all aspects of the teaching program, faculty, facilities, policies and learning strategies in order to be accredited.

For example, currently, there are only about 700 schools all over the world that have been granted this accreditation by the Council of International Schools. The results from these organizations are not permanent and a new full evaluation process is required every five years when the accreditation expires to ensure quality.

Sutherland also shared that an international school requires at least one accreditation organization to evaluate its quality. AISVN is one of the few international schools in HCMC that has passed all rigorous accreditation processes from the top three organizations: IBO, CIS and WASC.

Things to consider when choosing an international school


Things to consider when choosing an international school

Things to consider when choosing an international school

AISVN quick interview of parents on why they chose the American International School Vietnam

Dedicated teachers with international certification

Teachers are the ones who directly interact with students. Sutherland said some schools only require teachers to be foreigners who may lack international certification in education. Experienced teachers with qualified certification know how to engage and inspire students in learning.

He gave an example at AISVN, where 56 percent of teachers exceed the minimum teaching qualification requirement and hold a master’s or higher degree. In addition, the dynamic relationship between teachers and students creates motivation and positive energy so students enjoy going to school. Teachers become the first point of contact, who always listen and are the ones students can trust to share their problems with. Excellent teachers are a school’s greatest resource.

Students learn about the world map in the IB Programme.

Students learn about the world map in the IB Program. Photo by AISVN

State of the art facilities with a focus on environment

In addition to the three critical criteria, parents should consider the school’s facilities. Classrooms and functional rooms facilitating arts and sports programs support students to maximize their potential, relieve stress and evoke passion. Depending on interests and talents, students can participate in music, sing, play instruments, perform in the arts, sports and visual arts. Students can become actors, actresses, singers or artists, not only scientists, engineers and doctors.

Sutherland said AISVN has the largest school campus area in HCMC with 6.5 hectares in Nha Be District. The school has a spacious playground to serve more than 1,300 students. There are a lot of inspired spaces decorated with students’ creative artworks. Green spaces in the school offer areas where students can play and explore the world as well as build a close connection with the environment.

Early Years students at AISVN participate in water game activities on Sports Day in March 2021.

Early Years students at AISVN participate in water game activities on Sports Day in March 2021. Photo by AISVN

AISVN currently has special limited offers such as non-refundable one time payment (from enrollment to the end of Grade 12), and refundable one time payment (from enrollment to the end of five years at the school). Parents can save up to 60 percent of tuition fees and start their child at a high quality international school.

For more information, parents can contact Admissions via hotline (028)37800909, ext: 0 or email [email protected]




Artworks play role in fighting COVID-19 in Vietnam



Under the scorching sun of Hanoi, a group of young artists meticulously wield their brushes to paint colorful art murals to help combat COVID-19. 

Nguyen Manh Quang, the group’s representative, said the project ‘Fighting the Pandemic like Fighting Your Enemies’ was aimed at honoring frontliners and calling for social awareness in protecting public health. 

“We first painted a 15-square-meter mural in Hoan Kiem District’s Phuc Tan Commune,” Quang said. 

“We later received support to make big murals, ranging from 20 square meters to 105 square meters, in Dong Da, Ha Dong, and Tay Ho Districts.”

The next destination is Cau Giay District. The group sets a goal to cover walls of 10 to 20 square meters in the Vietnamese capital with art on the theme of COVID-19 fighting and prevention. 

Quang said the project was funded by artists and some donors.

He expressed the expectation that district authorities and Hanoians could give helping hands to spread the idea, especially finding big, plain walls for these artworks. 

A team of three to four artists can complete a mural of 20 square meters in two to three days. Photo: Ha Quan/Tuoi Tre

A team of three to four artists can complete a mural of 20 square meters in two to three days in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

On this mural, the 5K message conveying Ministry of Health’s advice and warnings against COVID-19 is visualized. Photo: Ha Quan/Tuoi Tre

On this mural, the 5K message conveying the Ministry of Health’s advice and warnings against COVID-19 is visualized in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

An artist resists Hanoi’s hot weather to complete a mural. Photo: Ha Quan/Tuoi Tre

An artist braves Hanoi’s hot weather to complete a mural. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

The mural delivers a message hailing social solidarity to fight against COVID-19. – Photo: Ha Quan/Tuoi Tre

A mural delivers a message hailing social solidarity to fight against COVID-19 in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

A metaphor of a nurse “angel” protecting the Earth from SARS-CoV-2 is seen on a mural in Tay Ho District. – Photo: Ha Quan/Tuoi Tre

A nurse ‘angel’ protecting the earth from COVID-19 is painted on a mural in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

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Woman’s ‘zero dong supermarket’ a lifesaver for some in Mekong Delta



Duong Thanh Ha of Mekong Delta’s Can Tho City has set up a charity stall with vegetables and foods to help people facing economic hardships due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

For nearly a month now she and her husband have been waking up before dawn to pick vegetables in their garden and take them to her ‘zero dong supermarket’ behind Phuoc Long Pagoda in Le Binh Ward, Cai Rang District.

It is actually a small stall with many varieties of farm produce that Ha harvests or others donate.

While she was busy stacking the items on the shelves, some traders from nearby wet markets stopped by to donate vegetables.

From time to time people would drive up, and place bags of rice, instant noodles, sugar, or cooking oil in gaps in the shelves and quickly leave.

Scrap collectors, lottery ticket sellers and motorbike taxi drivers show up now and then to grab for some supply. Seeing a timid old woman selling lottery tickets taking only a handful of vegetables, Ha said kindly: “Please take more. You are [also] welcome to come back and take more if you want.”

Duong Thanh Has zero supermarket offers a wide variety of farm-produce for people to chose from. Photo by VnExpress/Dien Phan.

Duong Thanh Ha’s ‘zero dong supermarket’ has a variety of farm produce for people to choose from and take for free. Photo by VnExpress/Dien Phan.

Ha, 60, used to be a merchant, but retired two years ago and handed the family business to her children.

In late May, when many farmers growing sweet potato in the neighboring province of Vinh Long could not sell their harvest due to the Covid outbreak, they offered to give it to Ha so that she could distribute it to those in need.

She rented a vehicle for a few days to transport the sweet potato from Vinh Long to Can Tho, and many people who had received it from her said: “We are very grateful… Having them for breakfast and lunch helped us save some money to pay our rent.”

Ha realized then that many poor workers were feeling the economic pinch caused by the pandemic. They were hoping to eat reasonably well, but were helpless as their incomes fell or disappeared, and that was when she decided to open the ‘supermarket.’

At first she only put up vegetables and fruits from her garden, but within a few days, as word spread about her charity effort, many people began to bring in food while others living far away contributed money for her to buy more vegetables.

She also uses some of her own money to stock the stall.

“At first I could only help with things I had. But thanks to benefactors from far and near, I have been able to maintain this for nearly a month now.”

In the beginning she would occasionally ask her adopted daughter to watch over the stall. But this made people afraid to come in since they could not see anyone inside. Since then Ha is inside almost all day until 6 p.m, only going for a short break at noon.

Besides picking vegetables and stacking the shelves, she also spends time talking to people who come in to assuage their embarrassment at taking things for free.

Southern womans zero supermarket spark joys in Can Tho - 1

Ha with a basket of squash at her ‘zero dong supermarket’in Cai Rang District, Can Tho City.Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Tram.

There are times when she sees people wearing gold jewelry and coming in luxury cars stop by her stall. She still welcomes them, helps them choose what they want but advises them to take only enough.

“If they have a need, I’m willing to share with them. It could be that they were not able to earn money that day.”

Do Thi Phuong Dao, 44, who sells spring rolls nearby, said: “There was less and less stuff at Ha’s stall after a few days. I thought the place would close down soon. But after a few days I saw many people bring food to donate, and so now every day hundreds of people come to take the goods. I have seen Ha choose fresh items to put on the shelf and take home less fresh ones to eat herself.”

Ha said she is “so happy that I cannot sleep” at seeing so many people make donations.

“The community’s cooperation has helped this stall survive for a long time,” she said, adding that she has the same joy with those receiving free produce from the stall.

At around 6 p.m., knowing the stall was about to close, Chau Thi Chi, 67, who sells lottery tickets, hurriedly comes in to grab some broccoli to cook with pork she bought on the way home.

She said: “Before the epidemic I used to sell more than 200 tickets a day, but now I can only sell half even if I head out early and return home late. Everyone is feeling the economic crunch, so they rarely buy lottery tickets.

“I have been coming to this stall every day since it was first set up and could save the money needed to buy vegetables. The vegetables here are very fresh in the evening and there is a large variety to choose from.”


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Lifestart Foundation donates e-bikes to disadvantaged students in Quang Nam



Three students receive e-bikes from the Lifestart Foundation – PHOTO: NHAN TAM

QUANG NAM – Lifestart Foundation donated three electric bicycles valued at VND12 million to disadvantaged students at Le Thanh Tong and Dung Si Dien Ngoc schools in the central province of Quang Nam.

The students are all from underprivileged families who only own aging bicycles.

Karen Leonard, Order of Australia Medal, Founder of Lifestart Foundation, said, “Apart from supporting disadvantaged students with the Lifestart Foundation Education Scholarships, we are also thrilled to reach out to the larger community to provide the students with transportation. The provision of much needed e-bikes reduces some of the dangers for the students when they have to travel far for studies and enables them to travel long distances much quicker.”

The donation is one of the many activities of the Lifestart Foundation community. Founded in 2000 by Leonard, an Australian, and supported by a team of dedicated volunteers, Lifestart Foundation is a grassroots, not-for-profit charity that helps disadvantaged Vietnamese families become self-sufficient.

This is achieved through their two largest projects, Education Scholarships for disadvantaged students and their Housing Improvement project.

To date, Lifestart Foundation’s investment in the disadvantaged youth of Central Vietnam is in excess of VND26 billion (around 1,500,000 AUD).



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