Educational system faces crisis

VietNamNet Bridge – Viet Nam's educational system faced a "crisis" that could only be solved by a revolution, said Professor Chu Hao.

Addressing a conference on educational innovation held in Ha Noi last week, Hao suggested that conducting a national survey to identify problems in the educational system and determine how serious they were would be the best way to figure out a solution.

Teaching professionals hold a wide array of views on where the problem lies. Although general education, tertiary education and job training are supposed to be the fundamental pillars of Viet Nam's educational system, the country has neglected job training since 1993, said Professor Nguyen Xuan Han at the same conference.

"It's a huge waste when trained people are not used,' he said, referring to a report released by the Ministry of Education and Training last year that stated about 63 per cent of graduates were unemployed.

Han said that this imbalance was a major problem that could have deep ramifications for Viet Nam's educational system.

He said that currently general education – that is, education in primary, secondary and high schools - mainly prepared students to take university examinations and attend university courses.

The boom in universities nation-wide placed a burden on the national economy, yet the education quality remained low and the international labour market had yet to accept certificates from Vietnamese universities, he said.

In 1987, Viet Nam had about 100 universities and colleges with a total student population of about 350,000. Today, there are about 500 such institutions, but they must now serve 4.5 million students.

This exponential increase in demand means that there are often not enough resources for students. While the student population has increased by 13 times since 1987, the number of lecturers has only tripled.

Former Vice State President Nguyen Thi Binh said that teachers played a crucial role in any education development scheme, so it was particularly important to solve their problems [low salary, quality and staff shortage].

She added that it was also necessary to improve the competence of students who entered teacher training universities, and suggested that any teacher planning to work in general education be required to show a university diploma.

She also urged adjustments in policies on salary and allowance for teachers.

As quoted in Thoi bao kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times), head of the Institute for Technology Research, Training and Constancy Dang Danh Anh said that while the scale of the educational system had expanded, students' knowledge as a whole remained very modest.

Many students lacked creativity and study skills, he said, as well as the ability to apply what they learned in school to real-world situations.

Former education minister Pham Minh Hac said that any innovative national educational system should focus on improving school facilities, textbook content, teachers' expertise and professional ethics codes.

The conference was organised by Ha Noi Unions of Science and Technology Association as part of Viet Nam's current plan to introduce innovation into its educational system.