Friday, June 19, 2009

US funds boarding schools for kids whose needs can't be met Vietnam

While doing some background research on a group called the East Meets West Foundation, I came across a fascinating press release about the new Kon Ray Boarding School in Vietnam. Providing an adequate education for the ethnic minority students in Vietnam's central highlands has long been a problem for this developing country. Families are scattered, which means that kids have to walk long distances to go to school. With poverty as an additional obstacle, many wind up dropping out. So USAID has helped to fund the new Kon Ray Boarding School, which has provided lodging and education for 180 students this past school year.

It certainly sounds like a good solution to the problem. Of course, as readers of this blog know, there are students a lot closer to home whose needs are not being met in their local schools either. Over the past three years, Gifted Exchange has covered the issue of boarding schools for gifted kids several times. While big cities can have magnet schools which concentrate highly or profoundly gifted children, in less populous areas, this becomes more difficult, with kids either needing to travel long distances, or else forgo an education with their intellectual peers. Some families move -- for instance, to be closer to the Davidson Academy in Reno, a school for profoundly gifted children -- but often this is not an option (either because of parents' jobs, or because other siblings are having their needs met locally).

In these cases, public boarding schools for gifted kids can be a great option. About a dozen states have public residential schools for gifted high school students -- usually those in their junior and senior years -- though there's no reason these couldn't cover other years as well. So reading this press release, I'm struck by the question: if we think this is a good policy decision in Vietnam (and I think it probably is), why don't we see more such schools here in the States?


Tudou said...

"for instance, to be closer to the Davidson Academy in Reno, a school for profoundly gifted children -- but often this is not an option (either because of parents' jobs, or because other siblings are having their needs met locally"

Very well said and exactly stated our case, we really want to let our kid to attend The Davidson Academy but obstacle on the job opportunity and relocation at Reno is very hard to overcome. A boarding school is like a dream coming true.

Kevin said...

Boarding schools cost a lot more to run than day schools. It is hard to see how they will work when education is under-funded (as in Vietnam or California)

John Anner said...

Every school, whether in Vietnam or elsewhere, needs a sustainability plan. The Kon Ray Ethnic Minority Boarding school relies on a combination of parent contributions (of food and money), support from the governments on the national and local levels, income-generating activities at the school itself and some school-based food production.

In addition, the East Meets West Foundation is launching a major new initiative to develop high-quality pre-schools in Kon Tum province. We will use the boarding school as a training center, and the school will charge us for room and board.

Note; I am the Executive Director of the East Meets West Foundation. You can read more at

Anonymous said...

I am a highly gifted student who would like to attend Davidson Academy (I went to their summer program and took two college classes). Unfortunately,moving to Reno is not a possibility as I have five others in my family who are well established where they are. If more day schools like Davidson Academy existed or there were more boarding schools for highly or profoundly gifted students, it would allow students like me to get the education many of us truly crave.

Davidson Institute Staff said...

Starting with the 2011-2012 school year, The Davidson Academy will offer a residential option. Residential students will live with local host families during the school year so their families do not have to move to Reno in order for them to attend the school. All residential students will be required to pay room and board fees. Tuition will also be required for out-of-state students. However, in-state students will be able to attend the Academy tuition-free. These costs are still to be determined. To apply, a completed Davidson Academy Application along with a Residential Interest Form are due by the Dec. 1, 2010 deadline. If you have any questions, please contact