Passive education will make people become servants

VietNamNet introduces part 2 of the talks “30 years of innovation: A look from the national education policy”, with the participation of former deputy chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Teenagers and Children Nguyen Minh Thuyet, journalist Kim Dung and research, member of the education dialogue team Pham Hiep.

Part 1: 30 years of renovation: A look from the national education policy

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VietNamNet: All of you have confirmed that education takes a very important role to create changes in Vietnam, right?

Journalist Kim Dung: It’s theory but in fact, the power of education in Vietnam has not been very clear. Because in Vietnam people still study for exams, for high scores so our schools and educators are still keen on knowledge not skills.

I suddenly remembered this case in the US, which I watched on TV. I think that this is a product of education, life skill education that is very practical for life, which helps people know how to handle in strict circumstances.

A 7-year-old child survived in a plane crash in the US said that she passed 3km distance to knock on the door of a family to ask for help. Obviously, US schools had equipped the child with the skills to solve the harsh situation.

In Vietnam, recently the media reported the story between a man who holds a doctoral degree and the Ministry of Transport about the Long Thanh airport. The reaction between the two sides accidentally reflected the shortage of life skills, problem-solving skills.

Pham Hiep: Seen from the perspective of education, there are only 3 criteria: quality, quantity, and fairness. And the mission of education revolves around three stories.

For the past 30 years, the resolutions, the development strategies  already mentioned these three criteria. Thus, in terms of the target we are not far from the general requirements of the world but we have problems in working to achieve these criteria.

Regarding the quality, why we keep compiling textbooks not importing them from another country?

In fact, all the training programs associated with foreign partners did this way. In the private education sector, Duy Tan University also signed a US school to usecontract with one of America's schools to use their textbooks for master and doctoral degree holder training programs. FPT University also uses foreign textbooks.

On the issue of fairness, there are two ways. We thought that for higher education, if the tuition is low, then poor people can go to school, is this true or not?

Our own research and many other studies of research groups around the world indicate that, for countries that do not have sufficient resources for ensuring quality of higher education, the lower the tuition is, the inequality is increasing.

At the present time, more than 40% of students in Vietnam come from 20% of Vietnam's richest families, less than 10% of students come from the poorest 20% of families. These figures are worse than the reality of 10 years ago. That is the situation of inequality is worsening.

In the world, to ensure equality in mass education, tuition must be high and at the same time there are many assistance policies for students through scholarships and student loans. This is also the proposal of the education dialogue group.

In short, in the new situation of higher education, we cannot apply the old way of management.

VietNamNet: Many argued that the objectives and philosophy of our education has not kept up with the economic and social development. What is your comment?

Nguyen Minh Thuyet: I’ve mentioned the story of objectives in education. Harmonized objective can be acceptable. Education is to perfect personality of each individual, based on which to build a qualified workforce to build and defend the country.

The goal always has two sides, reflecting the two schools in terms of educational philosophy. A school believes that education only functions of perfecting personality and the other school says that education is to train people to serve the society.

For Vietnam, we must harmonize the two goals.

Regarding educational theory, in this period we must adjust the educational theory that is based on the fact.

In terms of personnel training objectives for the society, we have to focus on the sectors with a direct impact on the development of production, improving the competitiveness of the Vietnamese economy.

Moreover, the time for practice should be increased.

We have to create conditions for the entire society to participate in developing education. We have to build a learning society. 

When I teach Vietnamese in Canada, half of students in my class are the elderly. I was curious to find out that they belonged to different classes. They were photographers, professors, diplomats, housewives. They went to school not for a degree, but to study the knowledge they lacked or they needed. It was truly a learning society. That is the philosophy of democracy.

In short, we have to build a democratic education.

Pham Hiep: What I care about is how to turn theory into criteria.

Vietnam’s education has not yet had the method of implementing philosophy, making it the roadmap and objectives.

Journalist Kim Dung: We have argued a lot about educational philosophy. Finally, the debate is left implicit, and no one has explained how the philosophy of education in Vietnam is.

For the objectives and philosophy, let’s go in the direction of "educating children to become themselves". 

An important aim of education is to stimulate and promote the best creativity, intelligence, bravery, and the autonomy of each individual.

Our education was born from the feudal time, then under the influence of French education and then we applied the educational model of the former Soviet Union. The influence of all three education systems is heavily academic and passive.

It is a fact that the education that does not teach people the initiative, it will tend to train servant and the personal ego is blurred. When the personal ego, the distinction is blurred, not respected, creativity, critical thinking of men is hindered, the consequences is the slow development of an entire people.

I remember the old days in school, those kids who were a little different from others were called “odd kids” and they were under prejudice and discriminated. The conception “odd kids” is very negative although their difference might be the signal of talent.

I pay special attention to the democracy in education. Recently some universities suggested the policy of letting students to make comments about their lecturers. At that time many people argued that such policy would harm the image of teachers and teachers must be always right.

I still remember that the Ministry of Education announced at a recent meeting that "one of the new features of the upcoming reform is respecting academics". If you do so, then it's good news. But I still worry whether it will become true.

VietNamNet: Your worry is also the worry of the society today. What will make impact on the success or failure of the upcoming reform of the Ministry of Education?

Journalist Kim Dung: It depends on the education sector.

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However, it requires strategic thinking, thorough understanding of the education and children's hearts of leaders of the education sector. An official used to say about educational philosophy like this: "resolution is the philosophy of education and let’s do it!" (?)

Such interpretation, such thinking must change. To have successful education reform we need innovation from the thinking of each person, each official in the education sector, local governments and each teacher, each citizen.

Educational thinking has to keep up with social transformation. Remember that we live in a flat world, the development of information technology and multi-dimensional information make people change the way of thinking, because the amount of information they receive each day is huge and the change of the world also make impact on Vietnamese people.

We have a lot of lessons but we have not applied much these lessons. I bet that if we remain the current thinking and the current way of doing then in 5-7 years later we will again debate about innovation of textbooks. We're going to talk about what we are saying today.

To be contined…


Passive education will make people become servants