| Mandarins (Si) were the educated class of Vietnam, the scholars who held high office and administered the government in the name of the Emperor. Following the teachings of Confucius, education was always given high priority in Vietnam and scholars were held in the highest regard and were at the top of society's food chain. In order to become a mandarin one had to attend a mass examination that covered a variety of classical subjects. If you passed the local examinations you were recognized as an educated person and could then attempt higher exams rising to the national level. Success here made you a mandarin and promised a position in the Emperor's government or other high office. The examination system, as ancient as it was, actually lasted longer in Vietnam than anywhere else in the world. Exams for mandarins were held in Vietnam years after even the Chinese had abandoned the system. Before becoming the first President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem had been a mandarin at Hue.