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Education in Vietnam: very good on paper

Asia/ Vietnam/ 31.10.2018/ Source:

Good exam results alone will not prepare pupils for the next industrial revolution

The second-year students at Nguyen Hue specialised high school in Hanoi are an unusually motivated bunch.

Entrance exams for university are coming up in a year. Then there is the matter of their parents’ high expectations, competition from other children in this elite school, and the tests of various kinds they are given every week.

“Everybody here is so talented, it makes me feel pressure,” says Nguyen Phuong Thao, 16. Ms Thao wants to become a journalist, but her favourite subject is maths, which she says her parents “forced” her to study when she was small.

“My first goal is to get into a good university in Vietnam,” says Nguyen Tung Chi, another second-year student, who wants to work in marketing. “All the classmates are obsessed with getting good grades.”

Vietnam outperforms neighbouring countries in south-east Asia on education rankings, and does well globally too. Its high test scores contributed to its place in the World Bank human capital index — 48th — the highest rating for any lower middle-income country. It stands out relative to its wealth.

The country spends the equivalent of nearly 6 per cent of its GDP on education — high by global standards, and a greater proportion than most of its neighbours.

Apart from the government’s investment in schools, observers of Vietnamese culture attribute children’s strong test scores to cultural and historical factors. These include the work ethic prized under Confucianism and the need to rebuild the country after the war.

Vietnam’s current generation of under-20s are an unusually large demographic cohort who will be competing for university places and jobs in an economy that is going through major transformation as the manufacturing jobs on which it relies undergo profound change.

“The generation of their and my parents needed to work hard, and they realised the fastest way to develop the country was to study,” says Hoang Kim Ngoc, 24, an English teacher at the Nguyen Hue school.

“The demands of the current workforce are so high,” she adds. “We are going through the fourth industrial revolution, where we not only expect to compete with machines, but we need to control them.”

Pham Hiep, a researcher based in Hanoi who specialises in university education, attributes Vietnam’s strong international test rankings in part to a well-designed curriculum for maths and science. “Shadow education” — extra tutoring in maths and other subjects outside school — is also common, he says.

Another factor, Mr Hiep says — echoing the children at Nguyen Hue school — is intense competition for university places as the country undergoes a demographic boom. “We don’t have enough places in tertiary education,” he says. “The supply doesn’t meet the demand.” The private universities in Vietnam, he says, account for only about 15 per cent of total enrolment, low compared to Vietnam’s regional neighbours, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and China.

There is little doubt that Vietnam’s education system is good at teaching children to do well on tests, especially in maths and science. But is it teaching them to think and reason too? And how reliable are the test scores themselves?

The World Bank’s rankings for Vietnam are based on the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) tests, run by the OECD, and involving international tests taken by 15-year-olds. However, one critical observer tells the FT the results are influenced by a sampling issue that makes Vietnam’s results look better than they are because about half of children have left school by age 15.

As the school leavers tend to be poorer and lower-achieving than average, the wealthier and more studious ones who are tested push the overall results up.

“The Pisa sample for Vietnam is skewed, [as] it only includes the richer, higher-achieving kids,” says John Jerrim, a lecturer at University College London’s Institute of Education. “This is a significant part of the explanation why Vietnam does well.” Mr Jerrim says that Vietnam will face a “paradox” moving forward, as improving education means more and more children remain in school.

Its Pisa scores are likely to decline rather than increase. However, he adds, even taking the statistical anomalies into account, “Vietnam probably does quite well compared to other countries with similar levels of development”. The Vietnamese government has been pursuing educational reforms for more than a decade, focused on reducing students’ workloads, boosting private investment in higher education, and improving vocational training.

The results so far have been limited. The children at Nguyen Hue school, while benefiting from some of the best secondary education Vietnam has to offer, have a few cavils of their own. “We focus on how to be a good worker and a good citizen rather than developing our own skills and learning to chase our dreams,” says To Duc Manh. “How we judge students to get a job: [is] not based on who we are, but the test numbers.”

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Vietnam increases domestic participation in international schools

By Anton Crace

A new decree from Vietnam’s government will increase the allowed proportion of domestic students in foreign-owned international schools, in a move being viewed by experts as a bid to attract more foreign investment and potentially encourage more students to remain in the country.

Decree 86, which was first mooted in 2017 and came into effect on 1 August, will allow international schools in Vietnam to have 50% of their enrolments made up of domestic students, upping the proportion from 10% for primary and 20% for secondary education.

“It is likely to become a ‘buyer’s market’ to the benefit of the target clientele of parents and students”

“The government is keen on attracting more foreign direct investment and expanding educational opportunities for its young people,” said Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam.

“I think this is part of the recent trend of encouraging more foreign direct investment, and opening up Vietnam’s economy to the world. It’s a smart and timely decision.”

There has been increased interest in international schools among middle-class families in Vietnam, and the decree, which now permits teaching the National Curriculum in those schools, will likely have a positive impact on student choice, according to Ashwill.

“With more choices available than ever for parents and students, international schools will have to be at the top of their games in terms of curriculum, teaching staff, facilities, ancillary services, and reputation in order to be successful in the long-term,” he said.

“It is likely to become a ‘buyer’s market’ to the benefit of the target clientele of parents and students.”

In creating a buyer’s market, Phan Manh Hung, the attorney who helped the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training create the decree, said the new objective would also have a positive impact on state-owned schools.

“The Vietnamese government is hoping… more families stay in the country”

“The state-owned school systems reveal poor performance with a lot of weakness in terms of training quality,” he said.

“The competition between the private schools and state-owned schools would create the good opportunities for improvement of training quality.”

In implementing decree 86, which replaces the earlier decree 73, Hung said the government was tweaking its policies in order to alleviate concerns from foreign investors that setting up international schools would not be viable without domestic students.

As well as primary and secondary education, Hung said the Vietnamese government had also started eyeing investment in higher education, after a recent report from the department of foreign training noted more than 110,000 of its citizens were studying abroad, paying up to US$40,000 per year.

“This suggests that Vietnam is exporting about US$3bn every year to overseas education,” he said.

“The Vietnamese government is hoping that more K-12 international school options for local families in Vietnam will encourage more families to stay in the country, at least until higher education if not beyond, thereby reducing the number of Vietnamese studying abroad.”

Conversely, Ashwill said the decree might increase the opportunities for Vietnamese students to travel for their studies.

“[The new decree] will enable more children from well-to-do families to attend international schools, which will better prepare them for overseas study, the ultimate goal of many,” Ashwill said.

Among its other changes, decree 86 will also allow local kindergartens to link up with foreign entities, and sets the minimum investment to establish a university to one trillion Vietnamese dong, or 250 billion for a foreign-branch campus.

Vietnam has been active recently in establishing its ties with other countries, signing an agreement with Ireland and entering talks with other European nations in late 2017.

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Embracing tech in early childhood education


Learning is fun: Kids at the Lùng Vai Kindergarten in northern mountainous Lào Cai Province during playtime. Experts advocate initiatives to draw resources from both the public and private sectors to promote equity in education and ensure access to learning opportunities for all children, regardless of their age, gender, residence, ethnicity, social status. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Hà

When Minh Hạnh’s five-year-old daughter Mai told her she had a class presentation about her favourite pets later that week, Hạnh knew just what to do.

She gathered all the photos and videos she had of little Mai with the animals her great grandparents have in Hải Phòng City, 100km from Hà Nội. There were photos of a cow, a dog and a mother pig with her herd of adorable newborns. After making them into a short clip, she used Google Photos to share it with Mai’s teacher.

She asked the teacher to help screen the clip for the class when it was her daughter’s turn to present.

When Mai came home from the presentation, she said all her friends liked it so much that they gave the clip a big round of applause.

“Some of my friends say they have never seen a real cow before,” the little one said happily.

Hạnh used to think that screen time was not healthy for children, as it can easily replace face-to-face socialising. She still holds that belief, but her views have evolved.

“I think modern technology has its advantages here – helping children to better understand what they’re learning,” Hạnh said.

“We are no longer living in a world where it’s practical to prohibit or avoid ‘screen time,’” she said. “Digital technology is certainly here to stay, and most of our children are using a smart phone as soon as they’re old enough to hold one. We can help our children by using technology in a productive way rather than fighting against it altogether.”

Lê Anh Lan, an education officer for UNICEF Vietnam, agrees.

“It is now common to apply technology in every field of life, including early childhood education,” she said. “The period from zero to eight years old is a critical phase in childhood development; a child at this age learns an incredible number of skills and retains a lot of information he or she will need to function throughout life.”

While no official statistics are available on the use of technology in preschools in Việt Nam, Trịnh Thị Xim, head of the Early Childhood Education Faculty at the Hà Nội National College for Pedagogy, said new technologies have been implemented in many cities and provinces across the country.

“We’ve seen the benefits technology brings about for the children – they’re more involved in class activities and more interested in discovering things around them when photographs or animations are presented. Visual aids help them remember better than traditional methods,” Xim said. “With thoughtful guidance, teachers can use classroom technology to help early childhood students learn age-appropriate skills.”

Xim said that while screen time used to have a bad reputation for detracting from social interaction, educators are changing that perception by embracing it as a tool.

“For instance, little kids often find it easier and more exciting to use a touchscreen rather than a mouse or a keyboard. Using tablets allows them to physically interact with the content they’re learning,” she said. Xim added that practising the use of digital tools will serve students well for years to come.

John Jeon Huh is CEO of the Jello Academy in Hà Nội, one of the schools implementing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and arts educational approach that is popular in the United States. Huh claimed the application of technology in early education has led to remarkable results.

“The integration of technology into STEM classes has created useful new experiences for young children, enabling them to have fun while discovering and testing the theories they are taught,” he said.

“Parents nowadays actually care more about our approach,” he said. “They welcome the addition of technology and STEM activities into the curriculum.”

The role of technology in early childhood education has long been recognised elsewhere in the world: the UK government sees in computers the potential to improve educational standards, and they have invested accordingly. The 2009 Home Access scheme was designed to promote the educational benefits of home computer and internet access. The Digital Britain report, produced by two UK government departments in 2009, stated that “we need a change in approach in education and training for digital life skills, starting with the youngest students.”

The No Child Left Behind legislation, introduced by the United States government in 2002, shared similar aims. One of its sections, titled “Enhancing Education Through Technology,” was designed to improve student attainment through technology. It also aimed to ensure that every student is technologically literate by the end of eighth grade.

Necessary support

Although researchers do not deny the potential benefits of technology for accelerating language and literacy development in young children, they have said that these gains are reliant on the way specific technologies are applied at home and in the classroom.

Lê Anh Lan said technology in early childhood education and early learning only proves to be effective with good preparation for teachers, parents and child care givers.

“Whether a child can benefit from technology depends largely on how it is applied by educators and adults,” she said.

Trịnh Thị Xim shared this opinion.

“Simply investing in technology or offering training in the use of new equipment will not be enough to achieve the sought-after changes; the education sector should support teachers so they can be confident enough to help students,” she said.

In order to do this, Xim believes policy makers will need to be involved.

“Training for teachers, investment in facilities for schools and the determination for change among education sector officials are critical,” she said.

John Jeon Huh said that a coordinated system is needed to ensure a lifelong foundation for young children.

“We need an educational system in which technology is applied consistently from the lowest level to the highest level – technology application in early childhood is just the first step on a lifelong path,” he said.

Despite great effort from the Government in investing in early childhood education, lots of constraints remain including limited investment for technology, Anh Lan from UNICEF Việt Nam said the state could play a stronger role.

“I also advocate for initiatives that draw resources from both the public and private sectors to promote equity in education and ensure access to learning opportunities for all children, regardless of their age, gender, residence, ethnicity, social status and their perceived capabilities, including informal learning.” VNS

Technology connects parents and teachers

The KidsOnline app was initially designed by a Vietnamese group to keep parents of young children updated on classroom activities. Over the last two years, KidsOnline has become the most popular cloud-based platform for kindergartens in Viet Nam to communicate with parents. It has almost 83,000 users.

The app, available on iOS and Android, allows parents to communicate directly with teachers. It shows what the kids are doing in real time, allowing interested parents to monitor their child’s daily learning progress. Photos of school activities are uploaded by teachers and sent to each parent’s app. It also provides information on upcoming school activities that parents may want to participate in.

Later on, the app evolved to help school managers with administrative tasks. These include managing school finances, healthcare and recruitment. Teachers can also use KidsOnline to receive notes from parents and send feedback instead of communicating with parents solely through paper-based reports, email or face-to-face interaction.

“Of course in-person contact would still be the preference of every parent when it comes to talking with their child’s teacher, and we never hope to replace such an important communication channel,” said Lê Huy Long, CEO of KidsOnline. “We hope to supplement this by providing regularly updated information on how children are doing at school, and keeping a record of all relevant activities.”

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Ministro vietnamita de educación admite responsabilidad por fraude en examen de bachillerato

Asia/Vietnam/02 Agosto 2018/Fuente: Vietnamplus

El ministro de Educación y Formación de Vietnam, Phung Xuan Nha, admitió hoy su responsabilidad en las irregularidades detectadas en la calificación de exámenes finales de bachillerato y alteración de notas en las provincias norteñas de Ha Giang y Son La.

El ministro de Educación y Formación de Vietnam, Phung Xuan Nha (Fuente: VNA)

Durante la reunión ordinaria del gobierno correspondiente al mes de julio, inaugurada la víspera, Xuan Nha aseguró que los culpables de las violaciones recibirán sanciones estrictas, y apuntó que no hay que negar los resultados de las pruebas en el resto del país.

De acuerdo con el titular, el perfeccionamiento de los métodos para evaluar a los estudiantes constituye una prioridad para elevar la calidad de la educación y formación.

Tras consultar a expertos y a la opinión pública sobre las medidas propuestas, explicó, la cartera optó por combinar los exámenes de graduación de bachillerato con los de ingreso a la enseñanza superior, en aras de ahorrar en gastos innecesarios para los centros educativos y los estudiantes, así como facilitar el trabajo de los educadores.

Xuan Nha afirmó que desde 2015 las pruebas se realizaron según ese modelo y alcanzaron resultados positivos. Desde 2017, los exámenes se desarrollan en todas las provincias y ciudades con la regulación de la administración central, bajo la supervisión del Ministerio de Educación y Formación y en colaboración con las universidades.

En un paso para acelerar la aplicación de la tecnología en la calificación, se aplican las preguntas de opción múltiple en todas las asignaturas, excepto en literatura, acotó el ministro, y añadió que la puntuación se realiza de forma automática.

Con respecto a las irregularidades detectadas en las calificaciones de exámenes en Ha Giang y Son La, Xuan Nha reconoció que se trata de violaciones muy severas, y aseguró que la cartera colabora estrechamente con el Ministerio de Seguridad Pública para sancionar a los culpables.

Sin embargo, no debemos considerar esos errores como una razón para anular estos exámenes como lo propusieron algunas personas, puntualizó.

También se comprometió a revisar y perfeccionar el proceso técnico para fortalecer la seguridad y transparencia de todas las fases de las pruebas.

Por su parte, el primer ministro, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, reconoció la buena voluntad del titular del sector de educación, e instó a esa cartera a continuar consultando a especialistas y a la sociedad para adoptar los reajustes necesarios.

Tras la primera jornada dedicada al perfeccionamiento del marco legal, la reunión del gabinete prosiguió el análisis de la situación socioeconómica en julio y en los primeros siete meses de este año.

Con anterioridad, la policía vietnamita inició el procedimiento legal por el caso de fraude en Ha Giang y Lang Son, al considerar que ellos involucrados  muestran señales de “abuso de competencia en la ejecución de misiones”.


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Vietnam robustece cooperación con ASEAN en la educación


Vietnam e Indonesia coincidieron en impulsar la cooperación en el marco del Consejo de Ministros de Educación del Sudeste Asiático (SEAMEO, en inglés) en el intercambio de experiencias, estudiantes y profesores; la revisión de la calidad en la enseñanza; la planificación universitaria y el reconocimiento mutuo de diplomas.

Al recibir hoy aquí al presidente del SEAMEO y también ministro de Educación y Cultura de Indonesia, Muhadjir Effendy, el ministro de Educación y Formación de Vietnam, Phung Xuan Nha, resaltó el respaldo a la capacitación de los maestros vietnamitas de los Centros del SEAMEO, en particular de las instituciones de QiTep de Yakarta (sobre matemática, ciencia y lenguas extranjeras).

Respecto a las relaciones binacionales, Xuan Nha expresó el deseo de que las dos partes continúen el intercambio de destrezas, profesores y colegios, con el fin de favorecer la colaboración docente bilateral.

A su vez, Effendy reveló el interés de varios miembros del SEAMEO de dialogar con Vietnam sobre el despliegue del programa de PISA (Evaluación Internacional de Estudiantes).

El ministro indonesio propuso la organización de reuniones entre Hanoi y Yakarta sobre PISA, a fin de mejorar la calidad educativa de los dos países.

El SEAMEO lo intengran 11 países, siete miembros afiliados y tres organizaciones asociadas.

Hasta el momento, el Consejo estableció 24 centros regionales para desplegar  los programas de estudio y formación en distintos ámbitos como educación, ciencia y cultura. –VNA

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Vietnam: Alemania ayuda a Vietnam en formación profesional relacionada con ecología


El Departamento de Trabajo, Inválidos de Guerra y Asuntos Sociales de esta urbe survietnamita y la Agencia alemana de Colaboración Internacional para el Desarrollo (GIZ) organizaron un taller sobre la formación profesional relacionada con el medio ambiente y la ecología.

En el encuentro, los participantes propusieron a los centros de educación vocacional integrar estos contenidos en los programas de capacitación, de acuerdo con los requisitos y perfil de cada carrera.

Opinaron que lo anterior contribuirá a la formación de un contingente de trabajadores con habilidades y capacidad para superar los desafíos sociales, económicos y ecológicos.

Coincidieron en que la mano de obra calificada desempeña un papel importante al abordar los temas de aprovechamiento de la energía y recursos en el lugar de trabajo de la manera más eficaz , y prevenir los riesgos para el medio ambiente.

Christian Knuppert, asesor técnico del Programa de reforma en la capacitación vocacional de Vietnam, dijo que la educación ecológica en los centros de enseñanza es objetivo en varios países en el mundo, en respuesta a la tendencia del desarrollo y la integración.

Nguyen Van Lam, subdirector del Departamento municipal de Trabajo, Inválidos de Guerra y Asuntos Sociales, informó que las entidades vocacionales se centran hoy en la reforma del programa de enseñanza en concordancia con la demanda social.

La mayor urbe sureña dispone en este momento de más de 500 instituciones dedicadas a la educación vocacional.


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Ministro de Educación de Vietnam habla de calidad de la educación superior

Asia/Vietnam/07 junio 2018/Fuente: Vietnam plus

El ministro de Educación y Formación de Vietnam, Phung Xuan Nha, respondió hoy a preguntas de diputados en relación con la situación y las soluciones para mejorar la calidad de la enseñanza superior y general en ese país.

Durante su comparecencia ante el Parlamento, el titular reconoció que la educación a nivel universitario todavía no se corresponde con la demanda del mercado laboral, sobre todo en medio de la cuarta revolución tecnológica.

Al respecto se refirió al programa pedagógico desactualizado y la ausencia de la infraestructura para la investigación de alta calidad.

En esta circunstancia, adelantó, se clasificará las instituciones universitarias y se estimulará su autonomía. Los centros de altos estudios con insuficiencia deberán mejorar su eficacia o se cerrarán.

Añadió que en el futuro próximo la cartera consultará al Gobierno para aumentar la inversión en los centros cualificados.

Para las carreras universitarias con mayor demanda laboral como tecnología informática y turismo, informó, el Ministerio promulgó regulaciones específicas que estimulan a la participación de empresas en el proceso de formación.

El Ministro también ratificó la necesidad de aumentar la preparación de los profesores y conectar programas de educación con el mercado laboral.

Las sesiones de interpelaciones se realizan en el marco del quinto período de sesiones de la Asamblea Nacional de Vietnam de la XIV legislatura. Con anterioridad, los ministros de Transporte, Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, y Trabajo, Inválidos de Guerra y Asuntos Sociales comparecieron ante el Parlamento.


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