Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children Dao Trong Thi spoke with Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about restructuring the education sector
Viet Nam moved to improve education and training quality last year, keeping a close eye on service quality at non-public institutions. Do you think the education sector is on the right track?
In my opinion, Viet Nam's education sector is facing two major problems. Only when both are resolved, can we say the sector is on the right track.
First, the quality of training at all levels is alarmingly low and proper solutions have not been found. This means, secondly, that the network of educational institutions is often lacking the quality to properly meet students' needs. Although some progress has been made in involving different sectors to invest in education, there is a downside.
While private schools should have provided better training because of their higher tuition fees, their students study in worse conditions. On top of the lack of institutions, it's hard trying to direct the streams of students into training institutions.
At tertiary level, those with poor results at university and college entrance examinations often go to private schools, where they pay higher tuition fees. Meanwhile, almost all parents want their children to be seated in public pre-schools - and they are willing to queue for hours or even offer bribes.
How can problems be solved?
Improving training and building more schools only makes sense if quality is the prerequisite. To achieve this, it is necessary to improve access mechanisms and verify the quality of training institutions.
The big changes may need the involvement of big investors, because small investors are usually chasing quick returns. The Government needs a proper policy about funding education.
The Government could support the private sector through preferential policies on credit, land use, and tax to help it provide better services. It would take a decade to restructure the education system, but it must be done.
People are concerned that there too many universities have opened. Do you think more schools are needed?
Yes, because existing schools and universities have yet to meet demand. At present, we don't have too many schools, but lack good-quality ones. The education ministry should improve criteria to assess training quality and tighten inspections to ensure that only qualified school can operate.
It's hard for private universities to improve the quality of their training as they are facing shortage of lecturers. What do you think?
Three conditions that ensure training quality are lecturers, facilities and regular funding to invest in teaching activities. I'm sure that many universities would have to reduce enrolments if they strictly followed two criteria to determine the number of students at each institution. These are the number of students per lecturer and the area of space allocated to each student. — VNS