Education reform for raising Vietnam competitiveness

Vietnam has some of the best university-based teacher training programs in the world, said Deputy Minister Nguyen Minh Hien of the Ministry of Education of Training at a recent forum in Hanoi.


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However, it also has some of the worst – and these poor performing programs produce the overwhelming majority of the nation’s teachers in schools with the highest percentage of students living in poverty.

Deputy Minister Hien noted that improving teacher quality has emerged as the key strategy to increasing the global competitiveness of the nation as it pushes towards greater regional and global economic integration.

Since the introduction of Doi Moi during the early 1990s, many changes have been instituted that exerted an important impact on the nation’s system of education and training.

Government spending on education and training has increased both in absolute terms and as a percentage of overall government expenditures and there has been a plethora of changes in regulations.

However, despite all the money and effort exerted the educational system has largely failed to produce high-quality graduates who have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the competitive global marketplace.

The failure of the nation’s education system to produce highly competitive graduates is largely because elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools have neglected to improve the teachers themselves.

Teacher preparation programs, he criticized, are too easy to get into and too easy to complete. 

The truth is that the secret to stellar grades and thriving students is better instructors, he underscored, noting that the education of teachers needs to be revolutionized with the aim of making all of them great instructors.

Just as sports coaches help athletes of all abilities to improve their personal best, he said, teachers can assist students to set their aspirations high and achieve great things.

Done right, this will revolutionize our schools and change the lives of young people forever.

Today, most teachers in the nation are still using the traditional teaching method such as the chalk-and-talk approach or one-way lecture, and not the modern teaching methodologies.

At the same time, they possess a poor knowledge of foreign languages, information technology (IT) and computer skills and thus they cannot apply IT and computer techniques well to their teaching activities on par with other advanced countries around the globe.

Teachers need to learn how to transmit knowledge and prepare young minds to receive and retain it. Good teachers set clear goals, enforce high standards of behaviour and manage their lesson time wisely. They use tried-and-tested techniques to instruct students to ensure that all the brains are working all the time.

Dr Nguyen Van Minh, dean of the Hanoi National University of Education has also called for drastic improvements in teacher training saying that more than 90% of all teachers skills in the nation are substandard.

The problem of poor qualification of teachers comes in the following forms: poor self-knowledge, subject knowledge and knowledge of students in a multicultural, multi-religious context; low managerial skill and poor pedagogical competence; lack of reflection and the ability to be self-critical, the hallmark of teacher professionalism.

With teaching, as with other complex skills, the route to mastery is not abstruse theory but intense, guided practice grounded in subject-matter knowledge and pedagogical methods.

Teacher trainees need to spend more time in the classroom, he added.

The places where students do best, for example Finland, Singapore and Shanghai, put novice teachers through a demanding apprenticeship. In high-performing charter schools around the globe the best teachers are trained with thorough coaching and feedback.

It is essential that teacher-training colleges start to collect and publish data on how their graduates perform in the classroom. Courses that produce teachers who go on to do little or nothing to improve their students’ learning should not receive government subsidies or see their graduates become teachers.

Big changes are needed in schools, too, to ensure that teachers improve throughout their careers, he concluded.

VOV

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