School reforms to offer autonomy

VietNamNet Bridge – Professor Nguyen Minh Thuyet, chief editor of the new curriculum for comprehensive education reform, talks to Giao duc Viet Nam (Vietnam Education) e-newspaper on the Ministry of Education and Training’s preparations to implement the reforms nationwide.

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How much training have teachers received on to apply the new curriculum for comprehensive education reform?

The changes made as part of the new education programme are only minor. But the number of subjects in primary school, secondary school and high school will be reduced comparing to the current learning programme. In secondary school, History and Geography will be integrated into one subject while Physics, Chemistry and Biology will be integrated into one subject. For high school students, the two subjects of Arts and Music will be integrated into one subject – the Arts.

To prepare for the implementation of the country’s new educational reform, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) has already developed the Enhancing Teacher Education Programme (ETEP) to facilitate continuous professional development.

If the agenda of our school reform programme is approved by the National Assembly, we will implement reforms at the high school level in the school year 2020-21. That means we’ll have three more years to prepare for the programme, particularly training teachers on how to teach integrated subjects.

At the high school level, Arts is a new subject, but it is optional, not compulsory. That’s why each school will develop their own plan to meet their needs in training teachers for the new subjects.

Other subjects will remain much the same. So, there will be no problem with the teachers. The only thing we’re worried about is that classes in urban areas are always over crowded. According to regulations from the MoET, for each primary school class, the number of students is capped at 35; for secondary school the cap is 45. That means we’ll have to increase the teaching staff. The MoET will report to the Government and work with concerned ministries, including the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, to solve the problem.

What’s about the new text books? Will they be available when the new educational reform is implemented?

For many years, the MoET has encouraged schools to teach integrated subjects and encouraged the students to apply active learning strategies. Such teaching and learning methods are quite appropriate for the new programmes.

That’s why, in my opinion, the trial period for the new educational reform does not need to last three to four years as has been suggested. Application of the programme could begin while it is still developing.

A key objective of the experimental programme is to test the impacts of the teaching programmes and methodology. The new programme will be tested with the following six methods:

1.        Conduct surveys of teachers and students and the school physical facilities

2.        Send questionnaires to educational managers, teaching staff, students and parents

3.        Conduct in-depth interviews with educational managers, parents and adult students

4.        Ask for comments and suggestions from educational experts and management agencies through seminars and workshops

5.        Conduct a survey on all educational experts and the general population

6.        Launch pilot teaching and learning classes

Will you please brief on the training programmes for the teaching staff?

The new programme will start with lessons learned from the previous VNEN programme [a new model of learning and teaching, designed to make students more engaged in class with teachers serving as facilitators]. Conclusions from that evaluation will be tailored to the conditions and capacity of each locality and educational establishment.

Of course, the first thing the MoET must do is to ask the National Assembly to allow the application of the programme according to the following road map: in primary school from 2019-20; secondary school from 2020-21 and high school from 2021-22.

The core content of the programme must be strictly and consistently implemented nation-wide, while the remaining components could be adjusted to make them suitable for each locality.

For example, according to the programme, primary school children will go to school four and a half days each week. But in any region, children will have the option of attending school three days a week. However, the locality must demonstrate that students are still being taught all the core content.

All students will start to learn a foreign language in 3rd grade. But if the parents want, their children can start right from the 1st grade. 


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