Nguyen Huu Chau, director of the National Institute for Education Strategy and Curriculum Development, talks to Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) about ways to develop education.
How have economic fluctuations affected Viet Nam’s education?
Viet Nam is developing with a high economic growth rate and people are enjoying an improved living standard. However, during the past time, the country’s financial market has had to deal with a lot of changes. For example, escalating inflation has strongly affected education and had an impact on things like building new schools, paying teachers’ salaries and increasing credit funds for students. We have had to change some policies to fix problems related to inflation.
What are the main challenges education faces now?
The first challenges is to keep our national cultural characteristics and ensure sovereignty in education and the training sector. Because during global integration, we have to implement regional and international commitments.
In addition, unhealthy trends in education and human resource export from developed countries can cause difficulties to Viet Nam’s education sector as the ability to control international education activities is still weak.
What are the education targets for the 2008-2020 period?
The broad target is to try to develop education in a reasonable way so that everyone has a chance to study. At the same time, the position of Viet Nam’s education will be raised up in the world rankings. We want to reach an education index of 0.9 and a human development index of 0.8, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
By 2020, Viet Nam aims to be the fifth top nation in terms of a competitive labour source.
In order to reach these targets, we have to develop basic education, right from kindergarten, to encourage talent. From 2010, there will be new teaching programmes aimed at this.
We hope that by 2020, 98 per cent of five-year-old children complete pre-school education and 95 per cent of pre-school teachers meet standards.
For primary, secondary and high schools, we will focus on improving English teaching and try to ensure that at least one subject per grade is taught in English.
For vocational training, we aim to ensure students have skills that meet the region’s demands. In 2010, the vocational training system will be completed, with a new range of jobs and teaching programmes.
At the university level, students have to know how to communicate in English. An international advanced teaching programme that is applied at nine universities at the moment will be popularised.
College and university networks will be replanned nation wide. In 2020, we target to have at least five universities in the list of 100 outstanding universities in Southeast Asian and two universities in the list of the world’s top 200.
How will we reach these targets?
Firstly, we have to rebuild the education sector’s human resources. From the beginning of 2010, all teachers will be required to have contracts. Students in the teaching sector will get fee exemptions and receive greater financial assistance.
There will be some renewal in teaching and learning. This year, principals will decide on salaries levels for teachers as an experiment, and in 2010, this model will be applied nationwide.
A new teaching programme at schools has been set up for third grade pupils to learn English, which includes some bilingual classes. From 2009, there will be a subject in which students assess teachers and teachers assess their managers.
We try to popularise education by setting up a new policy on fees. The State budget is the main source for pre-school education and public schools. We will encourage more private schools to open.
In 2009, a centre for forecasting human resource demands will be set up. Corporations and big enterprises are encouraged to open their own universities.