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Radical and comprehensive renovation of eduction to build humane education and training of Vietnam
31/10/2016 16:33' Send Print
Educational administrators and teachers are important factor determining the success of the renovation of education and training. Image: hoikhuyenhoc.vn

Today, when knowledge has become the leading factor for the development of knowledge-based economy in the world, countries are aware that education is an important lever for renovation of growth model for sustainable social development. Countries wishing to develop fast must pay utmost attention to education because investment in education is investment in “human capital.” The world has witnessed the “rise” of economies of countries and territories in East Asia, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore since the second World War. Successful experience of East Asian countries in the process of capturing and developing knowledge economy has confirmed the important role of education for economic growth and national development.

As a country in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has started renovation since 1986 and have made great achievements of historical significance, gradually getting out of underdevelopment status and joining the group of middle income developing countries. Vietnam’s renovation of growth model from broad to in-depth growth and restructuring of the economy with higher quality, effectiveness, competitiveness have posed many challenges to education and training. In the process of development, Vietnam has accelerated deeper international integration, becoming a member of international and regional organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the process of shifting to a socialist-oriented market economy and integration into the international and regional labor market, the structure and characteristics of the labor market in Vietnam have also changed rapidly, showing weaknesses of the education and training system, and human resources have not met the requirements of the labor market in terms of cooperation capacity, competitiveness, science and technology, creativity, professional skills, work culture and civilized lifestyle. These pose new demands on awareness, point of view, goals, content, programs and methods of education, and radical and comprehensive renovation of education to turn out high quality human resources for the country. In addition, by joining the common “playground” of the world, Vietnam has gradually recognized education as a conditioned service sector and must adhere to the “rules” of the region or the world in education. So, if radical and comprehensive renovation of education and training is not realized, limited quality of human resources will hinder the development of the country.

In the history of education revolution, Vietnam has carried out three major educational reforms in 1950, 1956, and 1981 and has been conducting education reform since 1986 to date, focusing on education reform at the secondary level. After 30 years of renovation, Vietnam has gained important achievements in education, but there are still many limitations, the quality of education in general, particularly higher education quality is low compared with requirements for socio-economic development; training is not linked to the demands of the labor market; development is based on quantity rather than quality; educational methodology is slowly renovated; and the national education system lacks continuity among training levels.

In such a circumstance, the 11th Party Central Committee issued Resolution No.9-NQ/TW on 4 November 2013 on radical and comprehensive renovation of education and training. This is an important policy in order to make fundamental changes in the quality of education, meet the needs of comprehensive human development and quality of human resources to ensure the success of the cause of industrialization and modernization, develop knowledge-based economy and achieve the objective of “a prosperous people, a strong country, democracy, equity and civilization.”

Carrying out radical and comprehensive renovation of education and training in the spirit of Resolution No.29-NQ/TW

After Resolution No.29-NQ/TW was adopted, the Government issued Resolution No.44/NQ-CP on 9 June 2014, On the Program of Action of the Government to implement Resolution No.29-NQ/TW, with 9 groups of key issues including: 1. Dissemination and education to raise awareness and action in the implementation of the radical and comprehensive renovation of education and training; 2. Improving the national education system; 3. Renewal of educational programs at all levels of learning and training; 4. Renewal of examination, test and evaluation of the results of education and training; 5. Development of teachers and officials, public servants and education administrators; 6. Promotion of socialization of education, training and vocational training; 7. Renovation in management of education, training and vocational training; 8. Improvement of infrastructure and information technology application in education, training and vocational training; and 9. Active integration and improvement of international cooperation in education, training and vocational training.

On the basis of Resolution No.44/NQ-CP, the Ministry of Education and Training issued Decision No.2653/QD-BGDĐT on 25 July 2014 in “Plan of Action of the Education sector to implement the Program of Action of the Government's Resolution No. 29-NQ/TW,” which focuses on concrete tasks and solutions for the successful implementation of the 9 key issues set out in Resolution No.44/NQ-CP with 27 specific projects.

These resolutions and the plans continued to be concretized through guidance, detailed plans of the provinces and cities across the country. Many provinces and cities developed Plans of Action following general guidance while integrating measures to overcome constraints of local education sectors.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Education and Training has focused on implementing the following specific activities:

First, communication activities on education and renovation training.

The renovation of education and training in Vietnam can be successful only if there is consensus and contribution of society. To obtain this consensus, communication plays an important role. Therefore, this is considered as one of the priority tasks to be implemented. Shortly after Resolution No.29-NQ/TW was issued, ministries, branches, localities and educational institutions have organized activities to sensitize cadres, employees, public servants and students of the Resolution to raise awareness of officials public servants and students to create consensus and high unanimity in implementing the policy of radical and comprehensive renovation of education and training.

Media organizations at the central and local levels have disseminated important contents of educational renovation and training. However, as there are constraints in the education sector itself, and the trust of society in education is declining, communication has not been sufficient to create high consensus. On the contrary, frequent negative information on education in the media has also increased skepticism about the renovation efforts of the Government and the education sector.

Second, completion of structural framework of Vietnam’s education system.

There remain constraints in the current structure of the national education system, such as fragmentation of management, lack of continuity mechanisms, and poor streaming. On this basis, the Ministry of Education and Training has reviewed the current national education system, studied educational systems of many countries around the world, referred to international standard classification of education such as of UNESCO issued in 2011 (ISCED 2011) to address shortcomings of the frame structure of the national education system at present.

A number of important changes in the current framework is proposed, such as reducing the time for higher education to fit the needs of society and development capacities of learners, integration of vocational education, streaming from the junior secondary school level and strengthened senior secondary schools, and separation between “academic” and “vocational” education.

After the draft framework of the national education system was made public, it has attracted the attention of education experts. This is the first draft coherently and clearly presented, and has been put out for consultation. Many education experts and organizations, such as the Association of Vietnam’s Universities and Colleges, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) and many other individuals have contributed comments on the draft in consultation workshops and public forums.

Currently, the Ministry of Education and Training is collecting comments and will finalize the draft to be submitted to the Prime Minister for issuance. The framework of the national education system after being issued will be the basis for the completion of the national qualifications framework as a basis for developing overall general education programs in the spirit of renovation.

Third, building the National Qualifications Framework of Vietnam.

The National Qualifications Framework is the legal document determining the standard outputs of each level of training, qualifications and certificattion corresponding to the training duration or cumulative number of credits required. This is the basis for standardized training programs, recognition of qualifications between countries, facilitating labor mobility in the regional and international labor market.

Basically, the draft National Qualifications Framework for Vietnam is developed in accordance with the Education Law and the Law on Higher Education, the Law on Vocational Education, with reference also to those of countries in the ASEAN, Europe and some other countries. Competency standards in each level are designed also to be consistent with the training needs of human resources in the new stage to implement the Socio-economic Development Strategy to meet requirements of national construction. In the context of international integration and education internationalization, a National Qualifications Framework compatible to education in the region and the world is a condition for educational development and integration. After dissemination, the draft National Qualifications Framework has received inputs from many experts and society. The Ministry of Education and Training is actively revising, and finalizing the National Qualifications Framework to submit to the Prime Minister.

Fourth, renovation programs and textbooks of general education.

Experts and educational researchers have maintained that the current general education program pays much attention to transmitting knowledge, not on developing the capacity and the quality of learners. So, to meet the demand of comprehensive development of students, the renovation of program of general education is urgent. However, to have an educational program that meets the current practical needs, there must be an overall system of solutions along with the “restructuring” of the national educational system and national qualifications framework old. The Ministry of Education and Training has completed the draft general education program, reducing the workload, integrating scientifical contents, increasing flexibility through the decreasing compulsory subjects and increasing optional subjects. On the basis of “open” program, new textbooks are not restricted to a single set of textbooks but can have many options from assessed books. The Ministry of Education and Training encourages educational institutions to use textbooks of subjects, such as mathematics, natural sciences, and English of developed countries which are successful in general education.

Fifth, promotion of mechanisms for ensuring the quality of education.

Quarterly reports on employment and unemployment of the General Statistics Office in recent years have always referred to unemployment among university graduates. There many be several causes, but one of the important reasons is the quality of education, especially higher education quality has not met the requirements of the labor market. To address this situation, it is necessary to strengthen quality assurance mechanism in which education quality accreditation plays an especially important role. The Ministry of Education and Training has basically issued complete legal framework of state management of quality assurance in general, and education quality accreditation in particular (for example, the standards for quality assessment of educational institutions from pre-school level to university, the standards for quality assessment of training programs, and documents guiding the implementation of the standards for quality assessment and directing annual quality validation). Besides strengthening inspection and control of the quality assurance conditions, such as lecturers, infrastructure conditions, organization of training, assessment activities, and accreditation of concerned quality. According to statistics from the Ministry of Education and Training, for pre-school education and general education, so far, 18.4% of preschools, 17.6% of schools at all levels and 4.7% of continuing education facilities have received external evaluation.

For post-secondary education level, the independent quality accreditation system has also been formed. The Ministry of Education and Training has established 3 accreditation centers in 3 regions, belonging to the two National Universities and the University of Da Nang and allowed the Association of Vietnam’s Universities and Colleges to establish an accreditation center. The training of accreditors has also been started. 500 people have been granted accreditation licenses and certificates of completion of accreditation courses for higher education and specialized secondary education. These human resources have organized education quality assessment. So far, 13 universities have been externally and independently assessed and 2 have been granted education quality accreditation certificates.

Sixth, pilot delegation of autonomy to universities.

This is considered an important solution to remove obstacles in the management system of higher education, and improve quality through the liberation of resources. The Law on Higher Education constitutes an important legal framework for university autonomy. In 2014, the Government issued Resolution No.77/NQ-CP on piloting renovation of public-funded higher education institution in the period of 2014-2017. However, autonomy has only been exercised in 14 universities, mainly in the field of finance not in academic, organization and personnel aspects. Therefore, results obtained are still limited. In the coming time, the Ministry of Education and Training will continue studying to gradually implement high-quality and autonomous higher education.

Difficulties and obstacles in the process of education and training reform

First, there are constraints, overlapping and contradiction in a number of legal documents regulating education and training. For example, fragmentation and lack of continuity between the levels of education in the national education system are partly due to inconsistency on college education of the Law on Higher Education and Vocational Training Law. This is also reflected in the implementation of Decree No.115/2010/ND-CP of the Government on the responsibility of state management of education which is not really reasonable and relevant. The Law on Higher Education is quite liberal about autonomy for universities, but many of its provisions contradict other laws, such as the Law on Labor, the Law on Public Servants, and the Law on State Budget. Therefore, the renovation of in autonomy university administration also faces difficulties.

Second, the education system’s inertia in general is very great, deriving from the intrinsic nature of the system and from the parts of the system. On the one hand, from the perspective of function of education, especially the general education has the function of transmitting social values, the educational system tends to be slow in renovation, and more “conservative” than other sectors of society. On the other hand, from the perspective of the members of the system, it is possible to find that the will for renovation among education leaders and administrators is not high. This is partly because many public educational institutions exist mainly due to subsidies from State, with virtually no competition, so there is no “need” renovation. It is quite common for teachers and educational administrators of education institution to rely on subsidies. This has resulted in hesitation and unwillingness among educational managers, and educators themselves. Therefore, the implementation of a number of new models and initiatives such as “new school model” (VNEN), or Circular No.30/2014/TT-BGDĐT on primary student assessment has been ineffective.

Third, funding for education is too low compared to the investment needs. Vietnam has always striven to spend 20% of total budget to education. Although the budget proportion for education is not low, but the absolute amount is not high, and scattered. For example, according the Ministry of Finance, the State budget allocation for education in 2016 is nearly 196,000 million VND out of the total expenditure of the state budget estimated at 1,273,000 million VND (approximately 15.4%). However, due to a low starting point, Vietnam needs a lot of resources, so this amount of investment is still fallen short of education development needs. Meanwhile, mechanisms to attract private investment in education is not attractive enough. At the same time, Vietnam has not had many “benefactors” with significant funding for education. Therefore, educational infrastructure is still poor with overcrowded classrooms, lack of teaching and learning equipment, hence renovation of teaching methods, examination and assessment has been ineffective.

Some key tasks in the coming period

First, review and replanning educational institutions in the national education system.

After the Framework of the National Education System issued by the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Education and Training will review educational institutions at all levels. The planning of education systems at all levels is to balance resources, scale of development, and conditions to ensure the education quality to meet social needs and implement radical and comprehensive renovation of education.

The goal of the planning is to rearrange, merge or even dissolve institutions which are weak in terms of quality, reduce focal points and increase management and investment efficiency of the entire system. In the process, define clearly principles and criteria for planning, focus on assessment and project human resources needs close to the Socio-economic Development Plan.

The planning of the national education system should be implemented in the entire system; planning of the school system at lower levels will be used as a basis for planning and development of higher education. Specifically, the planning may include planning the preschool system, general education system, post-secondary education system including colleges and universities.

Second, enhance streaming in education.

One of the weaknesses of Vietnam’s education is ineffective streaming; most of the students are opted to universities while only few enter vocational schools though the schools have been invested by the State. Good streaming will contribute to addressing the shortage of skilled manpower to meet the needs of society. Learners should be given guidance on vocational education better and earlier. The streaming in education towards “academic” and “vocational” directions must be studied further to help equip students with certain knowledge and skills while they are in high schools. This will facilitate strong stratification in senior secondary schools. At the same time, for some specific sectors which are permitted by the Law on Labor, the streaming from junior high school will help students to join the labor market when they acquire sufficient capacity and needs. Thereby, the percentage of students choosing vocational education will increase, ensuring the labor structure according to the demands of socio-economic development.

Third, training, capacity building of educational administrators and teachers.

Educational administrators and teacher are an important factor determining the success of the renovation of education and training. However, in general the capacity of a large part educational administrators and teachers have fallen short of requirements for education reform; standards of teachers and education managers have not yet kept up with renovation. Therefore, in order to have a basis to develop training programs, capacity building for educational managers and teachers, the Ministry of Education and Training will focus on building capacity framework, standards of teachers and educational managers to gradually approach ASEAN standards. Based on this capacity framework and standards, the Ministry will implement standardization of teachers and education managers.

The Ministry of Education and Training will coordinate with the concerned agencies to propose the development of the Law of Teachers, adjust and supplement policy on salaries to closely link to the quality of work, and policies to motivate teachers, conduct needs survey, develop and implement training and professional training programs for teachers, staff, managers at all levels of education. At the same time, enhance cooperation for teachers’ professional development among educational institutions, among localities, and encourages cooperation with educational institutions in the region and the world.

Fourth, step up delegation of autonomy for the university.

Delegation of autonomy and accountability are the core of advanced university administration that Vietnam’s universities should renovate and implement in the process of higher education integration. The level of autonomy will be delegated on the basis of autonomy capacity, quality assessment and ranking of training institutions. Building on the lessons learned from the implementation of Resolution No.77/NQ-CP, the Ministry of Education and Training will implement more synchronously autonomy, such as organization, personnel, academy and finance. To accomplish this goal, first of all it is necessary to conduct educational quality assessment of all universities. Based on the assessments, educational institutions will be grouped by capacity (capacity of staff, apparatus and resources) to delegate autonomy and accountability.

Therefore, autonomy is expected to make a drastic change in the quality of education, scientific research and social contributions of the universities. A good university autonomy policy further will create a new momentum for the development of higher education.

The 12th Party Congress advocates for pilot transition of public schools into educational institutions managed and invested by community. This is a new content of educational socialization which should be given attention to, and reviewed.

Fifth, increased universalization of English.

In the context of increasing regional and international integration, language capability, especially the ability to use English is of extreme significance. However, Vietnamese students, and laborers’ English is still poor. This significantly limits access to knowledge and new skills. The Ministry of Education and Training advocates enhancing the teaching and use of English in the educational institutions to strengthen Vietnamese people's English capability. To implement this, first of all, it is necessary to develop or supplement and amend the legal documents (the Law on Education, the Law on Higher Education), requiring universalization of English in the education system in order to improve English capability of Vietnamese students and people, thereby improving proactivity and creativity of learners in international integration, and harnessing the essence of humanity. It is possible to learn from ASEAN countries such as Singapore in teaching English. The Ministry of Education and Training encourages educational institutions to use textbooks and curricula in mathematics and natural sciences in English, teach suitable subjects in English according to schedule.

Sixth, promote information technology application education and training.

The 4th Plenum of the Central Committee of the 12th Party Congress issued Resolution No.13-NQ/TW on 16 January 2012, on building synchronous infrastructure to turn Vietnam into basically industrialized and modernized country which initially develop knowledge economy in 2020, pointing out that “Step up the application of information technology to management, and operation of economic infrastructure, society and economy.” On that basis, information technology has been considered by the Government of Vietnam as “infrastructure of infrastructure.” Therefore, promoting the application of information technology in all aspects of education and training if of important significance to improve quality education. It can be applied in educational administration, teaching, learning, assessment, connection between school, family and society. To accomplish this task, overall assessment of education information technology infrastructure, standards development, application index of hardware technology, software application in management, and teaching and learning at all levels.

The Ministry of Education and Training will propose to the Government to enhance Internet infrastructure to meet the needs of assessing and sharing information in management and teaching, digital educational resources and the apps in education management and teaching. For higher education, it is expected to build and develop Web 2.0 (web-based interactive learning model 2.0).

Seventh, promote international integration in education.

International economic integration leads to changes in education to conform to this integration process. Vietnam’s education also need to meet common standards, such as standards on international quality accreditation. To promote actively the integration process, Vietnam must develop and apply criteria of international integration and internationalization of education in higher education assessment. Tertiary education institutions must proactively expand international exchanges, develop students exchange programs with foreign universities, conduct collaborative research, joint training, recognition of credits, joint certification with prestigious universities in the world, and internationalize higher education curriculum.

Attracting leading universities to invest in Vietnam, on the one hand, directly contribute to the training of human resources for Vietnam; on the other hand, would create a “push”, a competitive impetus for Vietnamese universities. The Ministry of Education and Training continue to study develop and implement projects concerning international integration of general education, international integration and technical training, and pilot building of international education area.

Eighth, training high-quality human resources to serve socio-economic development, integration, and development of the knowledge economy.

Demand for high-quality human resources is becoming more urgent as Vietnam’s economy is integrating deeper into the region and the world. This is essential to ensure growth and higher labor productivity. The training of human resources is closely linked with human planning and socio-economic plan. The Ministry of Education and Training will study to promote human resource training, especially highly qualified workforce in line with economic development planning. The investment of adequate resources is very important to have high-quality human resources. The training of high-quality human resources should be closely linked to labor market demand through measures such as periodically assessing the demands of the labor market towards graduates in terms of knowledge and skills. Define the criteria of “high-quality human resources” and develop corresponding training programs and support policies on recruitment, training, and finance meet the criteria for high-quality workforce.

And so, the Ministry of Education and Training will adjust and supplement regulations on human resource on par with regional and international standards, implement open educational model based on the national qualifications and develop mechanisms to invest in developing priority universities, and some high quality training branches.

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This article was published in Communist Review No 885 (7-2016)

Phung Xuan NhaMember of the Party Central Committee, Minister of Education and Training