Canadian International School – Lao Cai: Journey to Bring International Education to Lao Cai

9:33:53 AM | 18/8/2021

The Canadian International School in Lao Cai (CIS - Lao Cai) is the first offshore school approved by the Government of Alberta (Canada) for establishment in Vietnam. Our reporter has an interview with Ms. Nguyen Thi Kieu Oanh, President of the Board of Directors of the Canadian International School Joint Stock Company, the investor of CIS - Lao Cai, on bringing the international educational model to the frontier area. Nguyen Bach reports.


Could you please tell us the reason why the company chose Lao Cai as an investment destination for building an international complex model?

Learning that we chose Lao Cai to invest in an international school, many people asked me the same question! And these are the reasons why we confidently invested in Lao Cai.

First, there was no international school in all six northwestern provinces, including Lao Cai. Meanwhile, the demand for children to study high-quality educational programs, with foreign elements from experts and foreigners living and working in these localities and from Vietnamese as well, was clear.

Second, Lao Cai shares the national borderline with China's Yunnan province. For years, these two provinces have developed effective economic trade relations. With our investment in an English-speaking international school here, we hoped to attract students from the Chinese province as a form of "exporting education" beside border trade, which is still busy in Lao Cai as it is.

Third, the resolution of the Lao Cai Provincial People’s Council and the Project 06-DA/TU of Lao Cai Provincial Party Committee on innovation, development and improvement of comprehensive education quality - human resources - science and technology in Laos province in 2020 - 2025 underlined the goal of accelerating educational socialization; actively integrating and developing high-quality schools, strengthening conditions to ensure education quality towards international advanced standards. These policies assured our investors that the project would certainly be supported by the local government.

Moreover, it was obvious that Lao Cai ranked No. 16 in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) in 2020. A good investment environment was also important to our investors' decision.

And finally, a personal but influential reason for my choice of investment in this project was because I was born and raised in Lao Cai. Although I grew up and started my career in Ho Chi Minh City for more than 40 years, from the bottom of my heart, I still considered myself a daughter of Lao Cai. This project was greatly supported by my husband and children, and our whole family regarded this as an opportunity to return to the land that nurtured my whole childhood to make me today.

The news of the first international school complex in Lao Cai province to apply a bilingual training program has caught the fancy of many students and parents in Lao Cai and neighboring provinces. So, would you mind introducing some information about CIS - Lao Cai?

CIS - Lao Cai is located on a 10-ha campus in the new administrative center in Binh Minh Ward, Lao Cai City, with a total investment budget of VND400 billion. CIS - Lao Cai will be built into an inter-level school complex consisting of four levels of education from preschool to high school. The project is divided into three construction phases. Phase 1 will be kicked off in the third quarter of 2021 and the whole project will be completed in September 2025.

With modern facilities, an international integration program, highly qualified teachers and staff, when it comes into operation, CIS - Lao Cai will bring advanced educational values and will become an ideal destination for students and parents in Lao Cai and neighboring provinces.

CIS - Lao Cai will teach the integrated program of the Ministry of Education of Alberta and of the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam from Grade 1 to Grade 12 (except for kindergarten, which will have its own program). Depending on the choice for the appropriate study path, students can graduate with an Alberta High School Diploma or a Vietnamese High School Diploma after completing Grade 12 at the school.

Project items include multi-purpose buildings for each level, physical stadiums, science centers, art centers, libraries, experimental gardens, boarding areas and Canadian classrooms. Alberta's executives and teachers will work with excellent Vietnamese executives and teachers to deliver a well-rounded education with cutting-edge curricula and a prestigious academic program to meet the needs of students and parents for international education integration.

On scale, CIS - Lao Cai will admit about 300 kindergarten students (third phase). For the primary, secondary and high school levels (Stages 1 and 2), each level will be able to accept about 500 students, including boarding students.

So, when will CIS - Lao Cai officially go into operation, and what will tuition and enrolment policies be?

CIS - Lao Cai is expected to start enrolling about 200 students for elementary grades from 1 to 8 in the first school year in September 2022. We will only start enrolling students of grades 9 to 12 from the 2023-2024 academic year.

Financially, we will try to develop a tuition fee policy that best suits the common income of local people. Given special incentives on land policy of the province, we hope to do this.

In addition, in the first school year 2022-2023, we will offer some special financial support packages, similar to the "Founding Parents" program at CIS in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009. According to our tradition, this program is considered a grateful occasion to parents who trust and accompany the school since the first year.

How is the local government supporting the school in removing obstacles to facilitate the project implementation process?

Since I started to carry out preparatory procedures for the project nearly three years ago, till I had the Land Lease Decision and the Investment License, I have felt more clearly about my right decision.

My husband and I often tell each other that, with more than 25 years of doing business, we have never seen “more experiencing” investment anywhere than in Lao Cai. At first, policy obstacles discouraged us and we thought of giving up. But after that, problems were quickly and promptly resolved by leaders of the Provincial Party Committee and the Steering Committee, wherever we went, we were fully supported by provincial departments, agencies and all experts knew about this project very well.

In particular, we were most impressed with the work-solving style of local leaders. When problems arose, all responsible agencies were quickly summoned to a meeting with investors to work out solutions immediately.

In general, we feel very fortunate and satisfied (with quite a few surprises) about the enthusiastic companionship of the local government as well as public employees in Lao Cai for this project. We expect that the first Canadian International School in Lao Cai will also be received with the same affection and care by the people of Lao Cai.

Thank you very much!

Alberta is the 4th largest state in Canada and the Alberta Department of Education has a lot of experience in implementing a system of 17 high schools with Alberta programs and degrees in many other countries around the world.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum