Education Minister Phung Xuan Nha
Q: The last 2016-2017 school year was the first year of carrying out the set tasks and objectives on renovating the education sector in the spirit of the 12th National Party Congress’s Resolution. What innovative solutions have the education sector implemented to bring about practical effects and what problems still exist?
A: In the previous academic year, the education sector deployed nine main and five basic groups of tasks in order to implement the basic and comprehensive reform of education and training, following the roadmap for each school year which resulted in positive changes, deeply impacting the perception and action of the entire sector in improving the quality of education.
In particular, the education sector has issued a range of practical policies to overcome any shortcomings or inadequacies, while many programmes, plans, schemes and regulations were discussed and approved, contributing to improving the quality of education, such as approving a general education programme at ministerial level and preparing conditions for implementing the reform of general education; promulgating regulations on the accreditation of tertiary education institutions; issuing new regulations on doctoral training; preparing for the revision of two important laws - the Education Law and the Higher Education Law; and re-planning the network of educational institutions, centered on teacher training institutions.
Methods for teaching, examinations and assessments of students have witnessed great progress (reflected in the results of the national high school graduation exams and the results of student groups attending international Olympiad competitions), creating a premise for the implementation of the new general education curriculum.
However, looking back at the 2016-2017 school year, there are still a number of drawbacks, as network planning remains slow; a lack of schools and classes in industrial parks and export processing zones is also common; overpopulation and a lack of local teachers remains unresolved; low professional capacity of some teachers; and the administrative capacity of some school managers has not met the requirements of innovation yet; as well as the relative high unemployment rate among graduates.
Q: In the new school year, what will the education sector do to overcome the limitations and improve the efficiency of its renovation?
A: In the 2017-2018 academic year, the education sector will continue to implement nine main and five basic groups of tasks, with the common direction of strengthening discipline and democracy in schools; building a safe, healthy and friendly educational environment; improving the quality of education and training at all levels; focusing on developing the qualities and abilities of learners; and attaching importance to moral education, lifestyle, life skills and a sense of law observance for pupils and students.
The three main focuses will be re-planning the network of educational institutions, especially teacher training institutions; preparing conditions on teaching staff and material foundations for the effective implementation of the new general education programme; and promoting the autonomy and self-responsibility of education and training establishments.
With regards to each educational level, kindergartens continue to use innovative activities for child care and education from a child-centred point of view. General education focuses on innovating teaching methods; attaching importance to study and practice together with school education in association with family and community education; and overcoming the status of extra teaching and learning. Higher education promotes self-reliance while improving the quality of training, in combination with the needs of society, to assist graduate students in finding suitable jobs. Continuing education performs diversification of training programmes to meet the needs of lifelong learning, contributing to building a learning society.
Over 22 million students around the country begin the new 2017-2018 school year on September 5. (Credit: NDO)
Q: In the innovation, teaching staff are considered a decisive factor for success. What solutions do teachers need to meet the innovation requirements?
A: There are two sectorial solutions that will be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year to overcome the shortcomings and limitations for the teaching staff, namely: improving the quality, and improving the standard of living, of teachers.
Regarding improving the quality of teaching staff, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) is building and adjusting professional teacher standards to suit the actual requirements, providing training for teachers according to new standards. Beginning in this school year, teachers will be graded according to new standards in a critical manner. The MOET has also developed training programmes to foster and re-train teachers according to the roadmap for the implementation of the new general education programme.
For improving the lives of teachers, MOET is reviewing policies and regulations to advise the Government, relevant ministries and agencies on reforming the salary policy and developing incentives for teachers and those working in the education sector, with a focus on reserve seniority allowance for educational administrators, the implementation of decentralisation in the recruitment process, employment and administration of education officials, and building preferential policies aimed at attracting pedagogical students in entrance examinations and solving employment issue for pedagogical graduates.
While waiting for policies from the central level, aimed at improving the living standards of teachers, MOET has issued solutions to reduce pressure and difficulties in the work for teaching staff, such as renovating emulation work and reducing or eliminating regulations on diplomas.
Q: Autonomy in higher education is one way of carrying out fundamental and comprehensive renewal of education and training. However, the pilot of university autonomy still has some problems. What measures does MOET use to solve such problems that help universities to achieve self-reliance effectively?
A: The issue of autonomy in public service agencies has been mentioned for a long time. Since the resolution from the Government on piloting autonomy in higher education institutions, 23 universities have been granted autonomy. However, the process of implementing university autonomy has not yet been systematic and has therefore not had a strong impact on the tertiary education system. Therefore, the MOET has identified one of the three key tasks of the 2017-2018 school year as accelerating the granting of the right to autonomy and self-responsibility to educational and training establishments.
At present, MOET is submitting to the Government a Decree regulating the autonomy mechanism of public higher education institutions, while continuing to perfect the system of documents on university autonomy in order to help training institutions promote their dynamism, creativity and autonomy. The process of amending and supplementing the Education Law and the Higher Education Law is in progress and the revised bills are expected to be passed by the National Assembly in late 2018, which will be an important basis for promoting sustainable university autonomy.
In addition to the MOET's solutions, as well as those from the Government and relevant ministries, the responsibility of universities is to be proactive in taking the appropriate steps towards effective autonomy.
Q: High school graduation exams and tertiary enrollment in the past school year has witnessed many innovations, but inadequacies and limitations still exist, especially in the selection for university students. Does the MOET have any guidelines for adjustments for effective entrance exams and admissions in the 2017-2018 school year?
A: After the 2017 national high school cum university entrance exams, the education sector held a summation to draw experience and promptly announce the exam plan for 2018. Accordingly, the 2018 plan on fundamentals will remain as in 2017. Candidates will sit five subjects, including three independent exams of Mathematics, Literature and Foreign Languages, plus two combined tests on Science and Social Studies.
In the spirit of listening to relevant comments, the ministry will promptly develop the final option for 2018. Whatever the plan is, the ultimate goal is for a light and efficient exam, contributing to the successful implementation of innovation and improving the quality of education./.