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New learning model needed for essential education reform

Update: September, 03/2013 - 09:58

Viet Nam has adapted an international model of learning that will modernise its failing education system and better prepare children for the wider world, Deputy Minister of Education Nguyen Vinh Hien told the Vietnam News Agency.

How do you respond to the conclusions of National Assembly inspections from primary to high school levels that learning material lacks consistency and practical use, and it fails to meet the nation's development requirements?

I can't agree more. The quality of our present education and training has not yet met the nation's development requirements.

There are different factors leading to the issue, particularly the objectives, content and teaching methodology, they are all closely intertwined - the major reason causing an imbalance between theory and practical skills.

Regarding the educational objective, we have paid so much attention to the objective of catering for all students, and forgot the idea of enhancing individual's strengths.

We have focused too much on transferring the knowledge to the students and less on self-learning skills, while textbooks and lectures contain too much academic content. All these have led to the imbalance between theory and practical skills.

One of our educational objectives is to provide the students with as much knowledge as possible. As a result, teaching has dominated the class and the students have become passive learners.

This is a result of the fact that many schools only focus teaching students by rote from their textbooks, rather than teaching them practical skills.

More recently your Ministry has introduced an international model - the VNEN - to modernise its education system and prepare children for the 21st century.

Will you please give our readers more details about the model?

The VNEN model has opened a new path for education, a new mechanism to help us to solve the above mentioned problems.

I should say under the Escuela Nueva model, students are more engaged in class with teachers serving as facilitators, and parents and other community members are more involved in making learning relevant to their children's lives.

This new model will also address students' participation during the class and through tests.

MoET has given detailed instructions on how to assess the students during the learning process to encourage them to achieve better results and help them to overcome any difficulties they are facing.

We hope with the new model, the teachers will become their students' close friends and be able to help them develop their strengths and limit their weaknesses.

This is the novel of the VNEN model.

What are the differences between the old and the new models?

There are quite a lot of differences between the two. The first difference I would like to mention is the design of the lesson content.

Each lesson focuses on one topic which it is divided into three steps: the first step - self reading; in the next step, the students have to use their understanding to solve given questions; and the last step is to apply the acquired knowledge to a practical situation either in the school, community or their families.

Lessons designed in such a way will ensure the balance between theory and practical skills.

For the teachers, as I have mentioned, they will act as facilitators and will only intervene in case of necessity.

In the case of advanced students, if they finish the lesson before their peers, they may move to the next lesson or the teacher may give them new assignments.

This way of learning and teaching will help to train the students in dynamism and creativity, two important elements that can shape their futures.

The second difference is the organisation of the classes. The students are sat in groups, but they act individually.

However, in case of necessity, they will discuss or exchange ideas together. This is a very good way for the students to develop individual and collective work.

I must say that the VNEN model is an ideal way for students to self govern.

Of course, these organisations will operate in terms and with specific tasks for each period.

What's more important is that with this model, each student is free to express their idea or any changes they want to make, and discuss to come to mutual agreements.

The students will feel the true prevailing of the democratic environment and the friendship among themselves.

This VNEN model will also provide parents opportunities to make contributions to enriching the students' lessons.

What is the significance of the VNEN model towards Viet Nam's plan to reform the curriculum and textbooks of general schooling by 2015?

This is a good opportunity for us to apply the model to the general school curriculum and textbooks, which we cannot do now after 2015.

From the 1,447 schools that applied the VNEN model in the previous school year (2012-13), MoET have decided to add 200 more schools to the list of VNEN model applying institutions this year.

The introduction of the VNEN model will serve as a transitional period for us to start to reform our general education after 2015.

Lessons learned from the VNEN model will serve as a good foundation for us to start the reform. — VNS


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