Exam cheating scandal shows dark side of Vietnam’s education

VietNamNet Bridge - Commenting about the exam cheating scandal in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, education experts say it reflects the problems of an educational system which attaches too much attention to exam scores and degrees.


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Students attend the 2018 high-school finals



Nguyen Van Ngai, former deputy director of the HCMC Education & Training Department, is keeping close watch over the country’s education performance.

Ngai pointed out that exam scores are ‘abnormally high’ in some provinces, not only in Ha Giang.

“Students’ achievements cannot be improved overnight, but it takes a long process. Therefore, the abnormally high exam scores in the provinces are unconvincing,” he said.

The cheating case in Ha Giang and the suspected cases found in Son La, Lang Son and some other provinces show that the 2018 national high-school finals are not ‘safe, serious and successful’, according to Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha, who spoke at a national online conference on socio-economic development in the first half of 2018.

The 2-in-1 national high school final exam was first organized in 2015. In the first two years, the exam was presided over by universities which controlled the invigilation and paper marking, while local education departments had the task of cooperating with universities.

The Ministry of Education and Training and police have investigated the cheating case in Ha Giang and found violators. However, because of it, people have lost their confidence in Vietnam’s education.

Ngai, who has experience in organizing exams, said that the deputy head of the examination and quality control division of the Ha Giang Education Department alone would not commit cheating. He must be backed by a ring of high-ranking officials.

The 2-in-1 national high school final exam was first organized in 2015. In the first two years, the exam was presided over by universities which controlled the invigilation and paper marking, while local education departments had the task of cooperating with universities.

Since 2017, the role of presiding over the exam has been assigned to local education departments. 

When the decision was released, many education experts raised their voice in protest against the decision, warning that the new scheme would lend a hand to exam cheating, and that local authorities may ‘fabricate’ students’ exam scores to ‘embellish’ the achievements of the education in localities.

Do Van Dung, rector of the HCMC University of Technology Education, said the scandal reflected local attitudes. 

The information about the cheating at the national high school finals in a series of provinces has put universities on tenterhooks as the exam results were unreliable. They fear that the fabricated exam results may be misleading and affect their enrollment. 

A university lecturer in Hanoi said as universities don’t trust the national high school exam results, they would organize university entrance exams themselves to be able to choose most suitable students. Autonomy is what universities want.


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