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Continued reform to upgrade education

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Despite numerous achievements posted in 2018, much remains to be done for the Vietnamese education and training sector.

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Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha

 

According to the latest statistics, in the 2017-2018 school year, there were 43,907 educational facilities at all levels, including 40,952 public and 2,955 non-public institutions. Non-public facilities took in 85 per cent, 13 per cent, 0.7 per cent, 0.9 per cent, 7 per cent, and 13 per cent of children and students at the kindergarten, pre-school, primary, secondary, high and university levels, respectively.

In the 2016-2017 school year there were 35 advanced programmes in 23 training facilities and 16 high-quality engineering programmes according to the standards of France at four training facilities and 56 high-quality programmes in other facilities. Besides, universities have more than 500 training programmes linked with international facilities.

2018 saw both successes and failures in the education and training sector in Vietnam. What is your overall impression of the year?

In 2018, the sector continued implementing the Central Party Committee’s Resolution No.29-NQ/TW on fundamental and comprehensive innovation in education, serving industrialisation and modernisation in a socialist-oriented market economy during international integration. The industry’s efforts during the long process have been acknowledged in a report published in March 2018 by the World Bank: Vietnam was one of the two countries in the East Asia-Pacific where the education system developed impressively, with Vietnamese students scoring higher than the average of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In 2018, Vietnam’s high school education continued churning out impressive achievements at international competitions. For the first time, all Vietnamese students on the International Olympiads team won medals, including students who gained the competitions’ highest scores. The team participating in the International Science Olympiads also performed better than ever before.

These outstanding results not only caress national pride, but also affirm the continuous efforts to innovate our curricula and education methods, placing students more and more in the centre.

The New Programme for High Schools was officially announced in the final days of 2018, after a period of drafting and gathering comments from the public. This programme will promote fundamental and comprehensive innovation in education and training.

Higher education also closed a fruitful year with two universities reaching the top 1,000 in the world for the first time and 23 having successfully piloted the autonomous university model, three of which are preparing to pilot operations with even higher autonomy.

However, there were still many negatives in education and training in 2018, such as problems in compiling questions for exams; laxity in marking tests at the national high school graduation exam that was taken advantage of by some individuals to change the results; unethical conduct among teaching staff; school violence; the redundancy or lack of teachers, depending on the locality; and the mounting stress from many different sources badly impacting teachers. These are urgent issues that need to be solved in 2019 and the following years.

In 2019, what will you and education and training management authorities focus on to consolidate the society’s trust in the sector?

In 2019, the education and training sector will focus on checking and repairing limitations and weaknesses that have been frustrating the public, as well as changing specific tasks.

As the pivotal year for the preparation of teachers and facilities for the new high school education programme, which is the primary task in the process of fundamental and comprehensive innovation in education and training in accordance with Resolution 29, we will make sure to have qualified teachers, enough schools, classes, and equipment for two sessions per day at the primary level, while compiling a set of textbooks under the spirit of Resolution No.88/2014/QH13 of the National Assembly on the renewal of school books and curricula.

In 2019, we will take particular care to reduce pressure on teachers by cutting administrative burdens on them and reducing the number of contests so that teachers can have more time on actual teaching.

Teachers’ income and respect for them also need to be improved.

Besides, we will also focus on other important tasks like strengthening autonomy at the university level with the aim of improving human resources; enhancing education of ethical conduct for teachers, educational managers, and students to form a cultural lifestyle as well as healthy and friendly school environment; and amending and supplementing policies to support education in mountainous areas.

In the field of education, besides state investment, it is necessary to promote the participation of private investors in the educational sector. How has this been happening?

Attracting private investment into the educational sector is a guiding point, a goal, and a solution mentioned in Resolution 29. Over the past years, private educational investment has contributed to raising the rate of children going to class, universalising education, training human resources, developing high-quality schools, classes, and programmes which meet people’s demand for learning, and reduced the burden on the state budget.

Private educational investment has also promoted receiving and transferring new technologies on teaching, learning, and educational management, helping to integrate Vietnamese education and training into the region and the world. Many advanced educational programmes which encourage abilities, develop soft skills, and pay more attention to extracurricular activities to help students develop their physical conditions, aptitude, and creativity, while actively integrating and competing in the international environment, have been studied and implemented.

In order to further promote private investment, in the near future, the Vietnamese education and training sector will continue to diversify training methods based on the open education model, national qualification framework, meeting the requirements of Industry 4.0. The sector will also encourage domestic and foreign investors to develop education and training, as well as create a level playing field between public and non-public education and training systems in training human resources.

In November 2018, the National Assembly passed the Law on Amending and Supplementing a Number of Articles of the Higher Education Law. Do you believe the law can address the current shortcomings of higher education?

Yes, this has opened a new page for higher education development with good results expected the years to come. The law has identified new features in the three pillars of higher education: autonomy in programmes, universities’ deep participation in human resources development, and a flexible financial mechanism which helps promote non-public education.

These open corridors will make the local higher education sector more competitive. After a certain time, for example five years, the higher education order may change. Accordingly, small and weak universities can be merged to create large ones which can compete and ensure quality.

It is admitted that we cannot catch up with developed countries in just a couple of days. There have been many improvements but not all are immediately effective. Meanwhile, parents and the whole society expect comprehensive reforms and instantaneous results. Do you have a message to parents, teachers, and the society on the occasion of the Lunar New Year?

Education is constantly in the limelight, with high expectations for results by the whole society. This motivates the sector. But education also needs sympathy from the society. We are implementing fundamental, comprehensive innovations in education and training, based on fundamental research and experiences from foreign countries – tailor-fit to conditions in Vietnam.

We believe that today’s fundamental innovation will create a solid foundation for the strong development of the country’s education tomorrow. The society requires education to be stable, many people are dissatisfied with “educational renewal.” However, in a society that changes day-by-day, stability must be considered to be in the state of “dynamic equilibrium.” We will keep the good things, while studying and removing bad things.

Source: VIR

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