The Pioneer Flame Lights Up Viet Nam’s Education


In the late Twentieth Century, at a time when high-quality education in Vietnam was still uncommon, a woman returned to Vietnam from America, bringing with her the enthusiasm and passion needed to lay the foundation to bring Vietnamese education to the next century. That woman was Dr. Binh Thy Nguyen Tran - Chairwoman of APU Educational Development Group.


While Dr. Binh Tran was having a successful career in the United States, she frequently traveled to Vietnam on charity trips to assist the poor and disadvantaged in her home country. During these trips, she witnessed many miserable cases. There were children under the age of ten who were forced to work hard all day, wandering the streets to earn money to support their families. They were denied the chance to go to school and learn how to read or write. She also met students who had completed high school but were unable to attend universities because their families lacked the resources.

When she returned to the United States, she was still concerned and thinking about setting up a high-quality education in Vietnam. She remarked at the time: “The Vietnamese have a long history of diligence and hard work. Many Vietnamese students have achieved success all over the world. Why aren't we putting more emphasis on education? Is it possible to create an international standard educational environment that students can easily access, allowing their talents to bloom?”


US Consul General Marie C. Damour visited The American University in Vietnam - AUV and APU American International School Danang.


The journey to bring Vietnamese talents to the world

Returning to Vietnam at a time when the country's economy had only recently opened to the world and faced numerous challenges, Dr. Binh Tran found the notion of international education still unfamiliar to many people. Despite the challenges, she had an unshakeable desire to bring the world's best education to Vietnamese students and was determined to start an education revolution by bringing international standards to educational institutions in the country.

It takes a lot of time and effort to be able to prepare and satisfy the requirements of the Vietnamese government ​and the strict standards of the American International University. In 1999, she completed all the paperwork to apply to open the first American Standard University in Vietnam. Such a bold idea encountered many difficulties because of the limitations and regulations between Vietnam and America at that time. Rather than simply waiting for the license, with the permission of the Ministry of Education and Training, Dr. Binh Tran used her same passion and knowledge to establish APU International School in Ho Chi Minh City in 2003 with the mission of providing a world-class education for Vietnamese and foreign students in Vietnam from preschool to high school.

Dr. Binh Thy Nguyen Tran at the signing ceremony for the agreement to recognize and transfer credits to prestigious universities around the world.


In 2015, building on the success of APU’s Ho Chi Minh City campus, Dr. Binh Tran and the APU Educational Development Group were pleased to open the APU American International School in Da Nang City; continuing to provide APU educational quality to Central Vietnam. Less than one year ago, at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, APU American International School launched the APU Bilingual Program, further expanding opportunities for students to enjoy the APU experience. Another highlight of 2015 was the opening ceremony of the American University in Vietnam – AUV. It signaled a bright new day for Vietnamese higher education. Within only a few years, Dr. Binh Tran's pioneering education system had established itself as one of the most prestigious in Vietnam and the region. Her stature, mindset, willingness to innovate and improve the standards of teaching in Vietnam have all been on full display through her efforts in recent years.


Inter-level education system – APU American International School and the American University in Vietnam – AUV


APU American International School and The American University in Vietnam AUV- Where the talents are nurtured

In 30 years of connecting with American education programs, APU and AUV have helped many generations of Vietnamese students access high-quality American education in Vietnam and provided students with opportunities to attend the best institutions in the United States and throughout the world with the aid of generous scholarships. Dr. Binh Tran has discovered and guided more than 5,000 Vietnamese students on a journey of accumulating knowledge and achieving success across the globe. Under the leadership of Dr. Binh Tran, APU has been continuously recognized by the world’s leading educational organizations such as Cognia™ and The Knowledge Review as one of the best international schools in the world. In 2021, despite being heavily affected by the Covid 19 pandemic, APU American International School still achieved great success, awarding over 500 scholarships valued at more than $20 million USD to the APU Class of 2021 to study at prestigious universities around the world.


Dr. Binh Tran and the leaders of prestigious universities from the US and the world in the signing ceremony of comprehensive training cooperation, mutual recognition of degrees and training programs.


These accomplishments are the result of decades of collaboration with leaders in the American education community to provide APU students with a wide range of innovative academic programs. With the CBP (Dual Enrollment Program and College Bridge Program), a unique program at APU that partners with prestigious universities in the United States, APU students can receive prestigious scholarships to gain direct access to the top universities in the US and worldwide, and graduate 1-2 years earlier than the original schedule. Many generations of APU graduates have held and continue to hold important positions in universities, NGOs, and large corporations around the world. When it comes to the success of her alumni, Dr. Binh Tran can't conceal her pride. “Every time I hear a graduate made the Dean's List at one of the world's most prestigious universities, I am reminded that APU and AUV graduates have always shown their confidence,” she says.


Dr. Binh Tran at the 3rd term congress of Vietnam Aviation Business Association - VABA


Motivation comes from empathy

Aside from devoting time and enthusiasm to improving Vietnam's education system, Dr. Binh Tran is also a secret benefactor who regularly helps underprivileged children and families across Vietnam. Over the years, she has visited numerous regions in Vietnam, focusing on areas prone to natural disasters to help save lives and improve the conditions of survivors. The story of her adoption and raising of five siblings in impossible circumstances after Typhoon Chanchu in 2006 is one of the most heartwarming. Dr. Binh Tran currently has 25 children, 20 of them adopted since her first return to Vietnam in 1990. These children have grown up and gone on to become talented educators, administrators… working in the US and Vietnam.


During a rescue mission to the victims of Typhoon Chanchu in 2006, Dr. Binh Tran adopted many children, including the Thanh Sa sisters. Now all of them have grown up to be good students and citizens.


During the time when the Covid-19 pandemic has caused immeasurable loss and suffering to people across the country, Dr. Binh Tran has been helping more than 200 unfortunate children who lost their parents or caregivers to the pandemic. She hopes that these actions will at least partially compensate for the pain the children have had to endure. She also invests in building community schools, dormitories and facilities so the same children can enjoy good educational environments without having to worry about cost. She confides that, “solving the problem of accommodation is just a temporary measure. As educators, we want to assist children in being guided, educated, and nurtured so that they can become independent and successful in the future.” To that end, she continues to provide the children she has helped with opportunities to help others. She believes wholeheartedly in the responsibility of the fortunate to “pass it on” by spreading love and humanity through future generations.


Dr. Binh Tran in the signing ceremony of the comprehensive cooperation agreement on Master's and Ph.D. programs between The American University in Vietnam - AUV and representatives of prestigious American universities


Many years have passed since she first returned to Vietnam. Though she always remembers their names and faces, she’s lost track of the number of families and children she has helped. She only knows that the more children she cares for, the more motivated she is to expand and develop high-quality education in Vietnam. She understands that education is the only way to help children change their fates and flourish as global citizens in the future. Her ambitions for Vietnamese children may sound like impossible goals, but with her passion and vision, Dr. Binh Tran is making the impossible possible every day of her life.


Dr. Binh Tran and APU International School students visited and gave gifts to the orphaned children at Tu An Pagoda.


Over 20 years of dedication to Vietnamese education, Dr. Binh Thy Nguyen Tran is a role model for pursuing passion and enterprising for young Vietnamese generations. “Women have the power to make difference in an organization and take on a leadership role in whatever they put their hearts to” - she says. We can be confident that with her strength and genuine heart, Dr. Binh Tran will continue to make significant progress in changing Vietnam’s education system for the better.