Secondary Sector in USA Still Going Strong

august 18 vn students in usaAs I mentioned in the last post, there are nearly 30,000 Vietnamese (29,788, to be exact) studying in the US at all levels.  (Source:  Mapping  SEVIS by the Numbers, August 2018)  Of those, 3,472, or 11.7%, of them are enrolled in boarding and day schools. 

While that’s 720 fewer students than in December 2017 (4,192 or 13.2% of the total) , it’s still a significant number that reflects a continued interest in overseas secondary education and a strong ability to pay on the part of many Vietnamese parents.  

Not included in the above figure are all of the Vietnamese students enrolled in high school completion programs in Washington state, the academic equivalent of killing two birds with one stone that allows young Vietnamese to simultaneously earn a WA high school diploma and an associate degree.  It’s an attractive option for parents who either can’t afford higher cost options such as a boarding school or a high school in the 30k range or who simply prefer that kind of program.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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Decree 86 Is Good News for Vietnamese Parents & Investors

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New Decree No. 86/2018/ND-CP implementing the Law on Education

Here is the unabridged version of an interview about Decree 86 that I did with Anton Crace, Reporter – Australasia for The PIE News (Vietnam increases domestic participation in international schools).   My answers are in navy blue.  The decree took effect on 1 August 2018.  


I saw Decree 86 increasing the proportion of Vietnamese students in international schools and have a few questions.

It’s good news for Vietnamese parents of means and those interested in investing in international schools in Viet Nam. Local students may now comprise up to 50% of an international school’s total enrollment. Under the old decree (73), the percentages of Vietnamese primary and secondary students in an international schools were limited to 10% and 20%, respectively.

Several of the provisions remain unchanged, for example, the one about curriculum requirements:  Educational programs must not go against the national security and public interests of Vietnam, (b) must not spread religion and distort history, (c) must not negatively affect the cultures, ethics, and traditional customs of Vietnam, and (d) must ensure the connection between all the levels and grades.

The main reason international schools in Viet Nam are so popular is the widespread perception that the quality of their education and training is superior to that of public schools and that the former do a better job of helping young people realize their potential, academic and otherwise.

How will increasing the proportion of domestic students benefit Vietnam?

It will enable more children from well-to-do families to attend international schools, which will better prepare them for overseas study, the ultimate goal of many. The rising competition will also make more international schools accessible to middle class families and could very well have a positive impact on Vietnamese schools. With more choices available than ever for parents and students, international schools will have to be at the top of their games in terms of curriculum, teaching staff, facilities, ancillary services, and reputation in order to be successful in the long-term. It is likely to become a “buyer’s market” to the benefit of the target clientele of parents and students.

Will the decree impact the number of new international schools being set up in Vietnam? Will it be a large enough incentive that a market exists?

Absolutely. The market is there is and not only in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). This was already a hot sector before Decree 86 was announced. Marcel Van Miert, executive chairman of the Vietnam Australia International School (VAS) in HCMC, was quoted as saying that VAS has had an annual growth rate of 20%, which explains in part the interest in international schools from an investor’s perspective. Decree 86 will only serve to accelerate this trend until the pent-up demand has been met.

Is this part of a broader strategy from the Vietnamese government to increase education opportunities and global connections for its citizens?

Exactly. The government is keen on attracting more foreign direct investment (FDI) and expanding educational opportunities for its young people. This decree accomplishes both.

Why has the decision been made now? What’s changed for the government to make this call?

I think this is part of the recent trend of encouraging more FDI and opening up Viet Nam’s economy to the world. It’s a smart and timely decision.

Peace, MAA

Over Half the World is Online; Viet Nam Among Top 10 for Facebook Use

Essential Insights Into Internet, Social Media, Mobile, and E-Commerce Use Around the World

2018 Q2 Global

Here’s the latest, according to We are Social and Hootsuite.  Of the 7.615 billion human beings on this planet, 4.087 billion are online, which equals a global Internet penetration rate of 54%.  3.297 billion of them are active social media users, which amounts to a 43% penetration rate.  (To view all 50 slides from this April 2018 presentation click on the link above or the screenshot.)  

What’s notable for Viet Nam is that it ranks 7th among countries with the largest active Facebook user bases with 58 million, a 16% YOY increase. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) ranks 6th (!) with 14 million active users. Finally, related to these two rankings, the Vietnamese language ranks 7th with 61 million users.  Viet Nam’s current population is  96,509,781, based on the latest United Nations estimates, which means a nationwide Internet penetration rate of 63.20%.

For more information about Vietnamese online behavior, check out this 3-18 post I wrote for The PIE News entitled How the Vietnamese Use the Internet, Including Social Media.  

Peace, MAA

“Vietnam needs to embrace its history fully”

Those-who-cannot-remember-the-past-are-condemned-to-repeat-it.

This well-known and often misquoted quote by George Santayana (1863-1952), a Spanish-US American philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist who was born in Madrid and died in Rome, literally assumes there is something learned in the first place that has since been forgotten.  This is not the case with people who don’t learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of their country’s history, or any history, for that matter.  

Vũ Viết Tuân, a Vietnamese journalist, recently wrote an article entitled  Khoảng trống lịch sử that was subsequently translated into English with the more descriptive title Vietnam needs to embrace its history fully.  This is a simple yet profound lesson that many countries need to learn, including the United States.  (The first time I began to fill in the gaps of the top-down history I was taught as a child was when I read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as a high school student.)  

Any culture and civilization that ever existed on our land is a part of our historical legacy.  – Phan Huy Lê (1934-2018)

I should add that Mr. Tuân wrote this article in the context of the recent national high school graduation examination and the death of one of Viet Nam’s greatest historians, Professor Phan Huy Lê, who passed away on 23 June.  

As someone who studied, taught, and conducted research in Germany, I know there is plenty of convincing evidence that this country went to great lengths and was largely successful in overcoming its Nazi past in the spirit of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which means the “struggle to overcome the [negatives of the] past” or “working through the past”.  Sadly, the US has yet to accomplish this goal only as it relates to the American War in Viet Nam, not to mention many other tragedies of US and world history starting with the annihilation of Native American tribes in the 17th century in colonial America.  

While ignorance may very well be bliss, it is not a recommended state of mind for anyone or any society that wishes to learn from its mistakes and not repeat them in the hope of creating a better future.  

Peace, MAA

“Reform Or Eliminate EB-5 Investors Visas Programme: Trump Administration To Congress”

More importantly, reforms are needed to protect against national security risks that allow foreign nationals to invest for the purpose of laundering money or conducting espionage against us.
L Francis Cissna, Director, USCIS

uscis_logo-white-backgroundThen why doesn’t Mr. Cissna and the department of which he is director investigate the alleged abuses about which he is so concerned and that are outlined in this 23 June 2018 Bloomberg/Quint article?  Money laundering is within the realm of possibility but part of their job and that of the law firms that process the applications is to prevent this from happening.  EB-5 spies?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  That’s on terrestrial par with his boss’s wacky proposal for a “Space Force.”  

The EB-5 program is a source of cheap money from outside of the US that is used for a variety of private sector construction projects, including hotels, condos, offices, senior citizens centers, student dormitories, etc.  (If you don’t know, or are not sure, what EB-5 is, click on the link to read a USCIS description – from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.)

The concept is simple:  non-US Americans of means who want permanent resident status for themselves and their unmarried children under the age of 21 invest $500,000 (in most cases) in an approved EB-5 project.  (Each investment should create at least 10 permanent full-time jobs.)  If their application is approved and the project is successful, the money is refunded with a very small amount of interest.  Most importantly, they receive provisional green cards.  

In the case of Viet Nam, which ranks a distant 2nd – after China – in the number EB-5 applications filed, most parents do it for their children.  It means they don’t have to worry about changes in US immigration policies and laws.  Their children, the majority of whom have studied in the US, can remain there for the long term, if they so desire, and work.  They have all the rights and responsibilities of US citizens except they can’t vote, which is hardly a deal breaker.  

The EB-5 program has been a bee in the bonnet of the anti-immigration crowd for a long time, including people like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).  This whole scenario reminds me of Bill Maher’s 2017 sketch, New Rule:  What Would a Dick Do?, in which he “tells Republicans that they have to learn the difference between being a conservative and just being a dick.”  What would a dick do, in this instance?  Eliminate the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, of course!  Those damn ferners are tryin’ to sneak into God’s country via its southern borders and the rich ones are buyin’ themselves Green Cards and citizenship with their millions of dollars.  Many of ’em are launderin’ money and hankerin’ to become spies, to boot.  God help US!  

Is this a program that essentially sells permanent resident status that can lead to citizenship?  Of course it is, in a byzantine sort of way, and it’s one that’s been in existence since 1990.  The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, as it’s formally known, has allowed billions of dollars to finance thousands of construction projects to the benefit of the US economy.  What’s not to like? 

Two key differences between now and then are the current anti-immigration and nativist climate (think “Make America Great Again!” and “America First!”) and the anti-Chinese sentiment because, after all, official USA always has to have at least one or two national boogeymen and whipping boys.  (The other country official USA loves to hate is…  Russia and the USSR, before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.)  

Bottom line:  If there are abuses, deal with them.  If there are problems, solve them.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  And, please, for God’s sake, let’s dispense with the hysteria about “national security risks that allow foreign nationals to invest for the purpose of money laundering money or conducting espionage against us.”  

Peace, MAA

P.S.-Here are some related posts from earlier this year:  

Viet Nam Ranks Among Top 10 Foreign Residential Property Buyers in the US (9.1.18)

Viet Nam Ranks 5th in Emigration to the United States (7.1.18)

Viet Nam Ranks 60th Out of 163 in 2018 Global Peace Index

vision of humanity

Viet Nam is a peaceful country.  For those of us who live here, I’m stating the obvious.  According to the latest Global Peace Index reportViet Nam ranks 60th out of 163 countries surveyed.  That ranking is in descending order from the “most peaceful” (Iceland) to the “most dangerous” (Syria).  The “state of peace” categories include: very high, high, medium, low, and very low.  This means that Viet Nam falls into the “high” category, as do Germany (#17), the UK (#57) and France (#61).  Australia, Canada, and Japan are classified as “very high” and rank 13th, 6th, and 9th respectively.  

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), measures global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization.  

In the realm of personal safety, there are certain precautions one needs to take in Viet Nam, e.g., don’t walk around Hanoi and HCMC waving an expensive smartphone and always hold your bag away from the street, but violent crimes against people are rare. 

To learn more about the methodology and/or results of this survey, download this PDF report, all 100 pages of it.    

Peace, MAA