Updated  
October, 12 2012 09:13:00

Management crucial at international schools

Next week:

According to an HSBC Bank survey called Expat Explorer conducted this year with over 5,000 people from four continents, Viet Nam ranks 10th in the Expat Economics league tables behind Singapore (1st), Thailand (3rd), Hong Kong (4th) and China (5th).

Nearly half of the expats surveyed agreed that they earned more since moving to Viet Nam, and two thirds (63 per cent) thought that their financial situation had improved.

Regarding the reasons why expats chose to live in Viet Nam, while the quality of life is not considered as good as in many other countries, expats often head to the country to challenge themselves.

Almost three quarters found they had developed and been stretched as individuals, and nearly the same proportion expected to lead a more interesting life and associated the country with being a culturally interesting place.

What do you think about the survey? Do you think that it is true to your own experiences?

What motivated you to come to live and work in Viet Nam? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of living in Viet Nam as an expat?

Please reply by email to: opinion@vnsmail.com, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, October 18.

Last week, Viet Nam News asked for readers' opinions about the Government's decree to set quotas for how many Vietnamese students can be enrolled in foreign-invested schools. The reason given is to provide tighter management of the operations of these schools. We wanted responses and suggestions of other effective management measures from readers.

Fang Woei Lim, Malaysian, Kuala Lumpur

In Malaysia I have children studying in foreign operated universities and the overseas campuses of universities from abroad. The good thing is my children have a chance for a tertiary education otherwise denied to them.

The fees are high and the quality of the universities are comparable to their bases in the UK and Australia. However, there are some colleges or universities privately run which are of a dubious standard.

These are degree factories guaranteeing 100 per cent passes for a fee.

In short, the government together with the professional bodies has the task of vetting these institutions before allowing them to step on your shore. Nevertheless, these institutions can also entice your innocent paying students via the on-line studies and overseas campuses.

I don't believe in quotas or regulations. I think a uniform or standardised qualification examination will go a long way to solving the issues.

Shin Pham, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

I do not think quotas for the number of Vietnamese students is a good decree.

Just imagine you want your child to study in a foreign funded secondary school but the school does not allow your child to come. They would prefer to receive a child from a wealthier family. Shouldn't we call this discrimination?

I still remember that in the US with its well-developed education, families are able to select the educational method they believe is most appropriate and the best for their children. For instance, home-schooling is given permission in the country.

So why don't the Vietnamese government try to improve the educational system so that it can attract all Vietnamese students and even foreign students residing in the country, instead of such an unfeasible decree?

If the government insists on a revamp, I do suggest that the decree should ask foreign invested schools to add some Vietnamese language courses to their curricula if the government is worried about the fact that Vietnamese children do not understand their mother language.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

Education is a complicated, multi-layered topic and is a basic human right. Everyone needs and deserves an education. It should be free (paid for by society at large) for each student. Resources should be allocated that are more than just a desk and chair. Students need libraries and now need computers and access to global economic theories.

Regarding foreign-owned schools in Viet Nam: if there is going to be a quota allowing Vietnamese students, who sets the number? What is the motivation? Will only rich kids and politically connected families be accepted? What about scholarships for the kids from the ‘wrong side of the tracks' (the smart but poor)?

In Canada at university level, if you have the grades, you get in. You get a student loan, you pass the courses, you graduate. Foreign students pay more tuition, access an international centre and receive social support. It becomes a win-win situation because increased tuition offsets costs, and we become more open to the world. There are problems-some rich Chinese kids study, and study, and study. They do not socialise. Some complaints are that they buy their degree - there have been cases of fake ID and students paying for completed essays or even sitting in on someone else's exam!

There are private daycare centres, (even Chinese language centres), and everyone is welcome to pay tuition and study, providing it is first come, first served.

I think there is enough room in Viet Nam for private (read: expensive, exclusive, elite, high standard) schools for profit and for foreigners only. Sure, they may let in some Vietnamese kids - but not too many!

And only if they want to - not out of pity, or by government decree.

Nguyen Cuong, Vietnamese, HCM City

I think there are some problems with international or foreign-invested schools in Viet Nam which require more effective management methods.

Firstly, there is a lack of common criteria in terms of quality, content and teaching method set for these schools. Each has their own. I wonder how the relevant authorities assess the quality of these schools, or do their responsibilities end after granting the establishment licence for these schools?

When I was a mathematics tutor I was shocked that the knowledge of some good students in these high schools was not higher. They made me feel that their only advantage in comparison with the students of "normal" schools is their English-speaking skills. I do not think it is worth paying 10 to 20 times of tuition fees higher than domestic schools.

Secondly, it seems that there are no legal regulations acknowledging the certificates of these schools or affiliate programs. Students at international schools do not participate in the national high-school graduation examination and the national entrance examination to university. Their certificates granted by international high schools get refused by many domestic universities.

The certificates of these schools may have international validity, but often not in Viet Nam. With such problems, what the Government should do is to set legal and specific criteria for international or foreign-invested schools. This would serve as the assessment base for regular inspections and would provide an effective mechanism to acknowledge the certification awarded.

It does not matter if a school enrols a large or small number of domestic students, as long as it ensures its quality.

Yoon Chang-sun, South Korean, HCM City

Actually, my child learnt a lot when she had the chance to enter into international school as early as kindergarten level.

The tuition fees can be much higher but it is worth it. She has built up her confidence, independence, dynamism and English skills. All this will be solid foundation for her to enter the international environment.

Now my seven-year-old girl can play sports and musical instruments and participate in clubs with outdoor activities.

She also tells a lot of stories about different cultures because her classmates come from various backgrounds. It is really wonderful.

With my wife's support, she can still speak fluently in Vietnamese so I think there is no reason to limit or ban Vietnamese students from high-quality international schools.

Relevant authorities should pay attention to finding out effective ways to detect bad-quality international schools and stop their operation. — VNS

COMMENTS
Malcolm - mdg@ddconcepts.com   Consistant standards
October, 19 2012 16:22:38
Internationally, the only universal way to ensure consistant educational standards are observed is to have periodic examinations, such as in the national high-school graduation examination and the national entrance examination to university. ALL educational institutions must make students, local and foreign, sit these exams. Whatever the institution wants to deliver above and beyond that is up to them and market demand. Setting any Vietnamese quota is detrimental to Vietnam growth. Of course, this pre-supposes that the national exams in Vietnam are of an internationally accepted high standard and not subject to corruption, cheating and dubious marking practices!
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