MOET denies stratospheric price tag for education renovation

VietNamNet Bridge – Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan says that reports of a VND34 trillion ($1.6 billion) price tag for its proposed education renovation program are unfounded. Nevertheless, he has affirmed that the ministry still cannot estimate the total funding needed to carry out the plan.



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“The estimate of VND34 trillion was not present in the report or in other relevant documents on the education renovation program submitted to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee. And there was no figure about the expected cost of the program,” said Luan at the Vietnam National Television’s (VTV) program, “People ask, Ministers answer”, which aired Sunday evening.

As such, Luan has denied the figure disclosed by his subordinate, Deputy Minister Nguyen Vinh Hien, at a recent meeting discussing the Vietnam’s education renovation program.

“As the head of the education ministry, I should have personally reported on the education renovation program before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee. But I could not do this because I was away on a business trip at that time,” Luan said.

The minister explained that he had been abroad in his capacity as current chair of the Council of South East Asian Education Ministers.

With Luan unavailable, Deputy Minister Hien was the senior official authorized to present the education renovation program to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee. At the meeting, Hien said, “The program will need VND34.275 trillion. This does not include the expenses to upgrade the material facilities in substandard schools”.

The figure immediately stirred the public. Experts all said they were shocked by the immensity of the figure.

Professor Hoang Tuy, a well known educator, said he was dumbstruck upon hearing of the program’s price tag, and that the number is thousands of times higher than any figure he could have imagined.

Associate Professor Van Nhu Cuong, Headmaster of Luong The Vinh High School, insisted that the textbook recompilation would need a budget one thousandth (1/1,000) the size of MOET’s proposed figure.

On education forums, members directed the thrust of their criticism at MOET, accusing the ministry of being “too wasteful” in its spending of taxpayer money.

Amidst the heavy criticism, Hien tried to reassure the public by insisting that the sum of VND34 trillion would be spent on many different cost items, not only textbook recompilation. However, his assertions failed to calm the public furor.

Luan, on the VTV program, accepted his responsibility for MOET causing the misunderstanding. “I myself will not agree to budget VND34 trillion just for the textbook recompilation,” he said.

He went on to say that he personally has not discussed the estimate of the program with his subordinates. The number of VND34 trillion was estimated by some experts. However, the ministry has not made a final decision.

Also according to Luan, only after the National Assembly agrees in principle to the education renovation program, will MOET start to build up a detailed plan for its implementation. It will also have to consult with experts, local authorities, relevant agencies and the public before submitting the final version to the government.

TBKTSG

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