The year 2019 is considered as an important time for the education and training sector to shift from the current general education curriculum which still sees shortcomings to a new curriculum, from the way of transferring knowledge to forming ability and qualifications of students.
On the threshold of the Year of the Pig, Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha talked with the press about the sector’s important issues.
A picture of mixed feelings
Reporter: The education and training sector saw bright spots in 2018 but also matters of public concern. What is your assessment of the sector in 2018?
Minister Phung Xuan Nha: The year 2018 left impression on many people and the whole society a picture of mixed feelings. It could be said that the education and training sector witnessed many successes last year thanks to concerted efforts of the entire system.
The most outstanding success was the completion of a new general education curriculum, shifting from the transfer of knowledge to the development of ability and qualifications. The curriculum has been prepared over the past six years with a lot of concerns, expectations and opinions. As compared to the previous curriculum and textbook reforms, this time we have done methodically from the overall curriculum to each subject, content, method, criteria and even each lesson. During the process of compilation, many workshops were held to collect suggestions. At the end of 2018, a new general education curriculum was promulgated. In my opinion, this was a very important result of the education and training sector.
Another bright spot was spearhead education as students competing at Olympiads brought home the most prizes to date. In general education, Vietnam was evaluated by the World Bank as one of the countries having strong reforms in Asia-Pacific.
For higher education, universities and colleges have increased self-reliance and improved the quality of training. 2018 marked the first year Vietnam has a university ranked in the world’s top 1,000 best universities. The Law on Higher Education was approved by the National Assembly, creating favourable conditions for universities to step up self-reliance.
Concerted efforts needed to overcome shortcomings
Reporter: Could you please talk more clearly about strategies and plans the Ministry of Education and Training will carry out to overcome shortcomings?
Minister Phung Xuan Nha: We worked out detailed tasks for 2019 with a focus placed on overcoming the shortcomings.
For the national high school exam, we are focusing on building a bank of standardized questions and completing the exam organising process to avoid loopholes.
Regarding the recognition of professor and associate professor titles, we submitted to the Prime Minister for the issuance of Decision 37 stipulating new criteria and procedures to ensure the process’s transparency and accuracy.
For general education, the task is to promptly prepare conditions for the deployment of the new general education curriculum, including the development of teachers and managers. It is necessary to provide further training for teachers and managers so that they can have good preparations, skills and methods.
Textbooks are also a very important matter. We had a plan and have been implementing it carefully to meet the requirements of the new general education curriculum.
In 2019, we believe that there will be a map of reforms for each education level and steps so that we can complete the strategy in 2020 and submit to the government for issuance in 2021.
What are needed for actual innovation?
Reporter: You has paid due attention to creating momentum for teachers. Could you please share your resolve to propose salary increases for teachers?
Minister Phung Xuan Nha: I think that the success or failure of the education reform cause in general and the implementation of the new general education curriculum in particular depends on the contingent of teachers.
We must have a full look into their rights and obligations. I do not have big expectations, but with my responsibility and understanding about the sector, it is necessary to improve the life of teachers via salaries and allowances.
The responsibility of teachers is to continuously renovate themselves to meet the requirements. Previously, teachers lectured to transfer their knowledge and students took note. Now, students are placed at the centre, while teachers play the role as referees and instructors so teachers must change in a series of issues. Teachers must have further training and re-training.
To achieve good results, the education and training sector and localities should create a friendly working environment and eliminate pressure, stress and tiredness for teachers. Though salaries are not high as those in other sectors, the comfortable working environment can encourage teachers to continue their jobs. Other tasks are to improve salaries and working conditions for teachers.
Reporter: Each matter of the education and training sector has attracted attention from people. How do you feel about the society’s care about the sector?
Minister Phung Xuan Nha: I have not only felt but also thoroughly understood because education and training involve in every person and every family as well as each family’s expectations on their children. I think that no other sector has optimal conditions like the education and training sector as it has attracted attention from many people. But the education and training sector has also suffered more pressure than other sectors.
The most important thing is to turn these challenges into opportunities and gain the sympathy from everybody because education is the cause of the entire people.
I think the education and training sector must deal with its shortcomings first and when the sector does its jobs well it will be supported by people. Besides, the communication work must be step up to help people understand better and then accompany the sector.