The education ministry’s plan to renew school curricula from 2015 will cost about $3.3 billion over six years, but experts have mixed reactions.
Prof Chu Hao, former minister of Sciences and Technology
The newly-introduced draft reveals that the ministry has not given proper attention to State budget spending. Many education experts and I are surprised to hear about the estimated VND70 trillion ($3.3 billion) for the plan. Funding for the design of new curricula and compilation of new textbooks [$45.7 million] is acceptable but I don’t understand why the budget for capital construction [$1.7 billion] is included in the plan. Moreover, the content is still too cursory and quite similar to previous plans.
I find the draft insufficient as it was compiled based on a point in documents from the 11th Party Congress, specifically that the country aims “to innovate education curricula and teaching and learning methods at all education stages to prepare a new school education curricula from 2015”.
However, there is a more important and general point that is “to have basic and comprehensive renovation of Viet Nam’s education system in a modern democratic way, mobilising different sectors to invest, ensuring quality to meet international standards.
“Keys to achieving the target are to change the educational management mechanism and improve the quality of management staff and teachers.”
So, the first thing to do is to produce a master plan to renovate the education system, and then a detailed plan on designing curricula and textbooks.
If the National Assembly or Government approve a 10-year curricula plan instead of the current 12-year curricula, so does this mean this proposal will no longer work? In that case, who will take responsibility for spending the $3.3 billion?
Prof and Dr Nguyen Xuan Han, Ha Noi National University
I learnt about the first plan to renew curricula and textbooks in 2002. Comparing the previous plan with the newly-introduced draft, I find many similarities including criteria to build curricula and methods to encourage self-study among students.
The difference is that the budget has increased from VND32 trillion ($1.56 billion) to VND70 trillion ($3.3 billion).
When the draft is completed, it will need to be published for public opinion and the compilers must present the expected targets of the work.
The education sector currently invests too much and pays too much attention to curricula and textbooks while in 1975, the Government succeeded in shifting the school education curricula from 10 years to 12 years with little money.
Associate Prof and Dr Do Ngoc Thong, Viet Nam National Institute for Education Studies
The plan’s general objective is to design and apply new textbooks and relevant materials for education which help to improve education quality and facilitate the development of students so they can meet national socio-economic development requirements in the process of industrialisation and modernisation.
Detailed objectives include: to design and apply new curricula from pre-school to high school; to compile textbooks; to make a list of teaching materials; to issue instructions for implementing the curricula and organising activities for education managers and teachers; and to design curricula for continuing education.
The first reform on textbooks was carried out in 2002 and the ministry has assessed the reform at least four times since then. So it’s wrong to say that the ministry wants another reform when it has not carried out an assessment of the previous one. Now it’s necessary to review the curricula and textbooks to see whether they can meet the requirements of the current situation.
A completely new education curricula is not seen anywhere in the world as any change or development has a foundation to inherit. To my understanding, other countries are quite flexible, they don’t make changes to all educational levels or to textbooks in all subjects.
For example, in 2008, Australia changed its English, History, Math and Science textbooks. Poland did not conduct pilot implementation of its curricula as they studied their needs and were well-prepared for the change and applied new curricula smoothly.
Our draft has not mentioned partial or complete reform of curricula and textbooks. I recommend the compilers to approach the process in the way outlined above.
Vu Dinh Chuan, Director of MoET’s Secondary Education Department
Every country needs to review and renew education curricula and textbooks regularly. In developed countries, they do every six or seven years. So it’s a reasonable time for Viet Nam to make the move so that we can apply new curricula from 2017.
Less than one-seventieth (more than $44.6 million) of the estimated $3.3 million will be spent on designing curricula and compiling textbooks. Another VND30 trillion ($1.49 billion) will be used for teaching aids, VND35 trillion ($1.7 billion) will be used for construction of facilities and more than VND390 billion ($18 million) will be used to improve skills among education management staff and teachers.
These are all estimates in the draft based on consultations of sectors and ministries. The ministry is continuing to study, calculate and set up an investment road map. — VNS
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