At the start of the new school year, Pham Vu Luan, Minister of Education and Training, spoke with the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about educational improvements for students.
What is the focus for the education sector during this school year (2013-14) ?
This school year the education sector will focus on the three main tasks. The first is to continue the educational management reform, particularly the separation of state management and school's management.
Second, to strengthen inspection and monitoring activities to ensure high quality delivery. And finally, to make sure all educational institutions are operated in line with laws and violators are given due punishment.
The key objectives of the three tasks are to push back bad practices, consolidate law enforcement and enhance the creativeness of all schools toward the movement "teach well and learn well" launched by the Ministry of Education andTraining (MoET) on the 45th anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's letter sent to the education sector on October 15,1968.
For the new school year, a big concern for many parents is tuition fees. Does the ministry have any solutions to prevent the problem of excessive fee collection?
By now MoET has issued quite a few legal documents prohibiting the excessive fee collection practiced by many schools. These documents have stated clearly how to manage and use the funds contributed by parents or donors to upgrade school facilities.
According to reports sent to us, these documents have come into practice and the problem of excessive fee collection has been successful settled, particularly in major cities like Ha Noi, Da Nang, Nghe An and Ho Chi Minh City.
Through inspection visits, the inspectors have handed down severe punishments to school head-masters and teachers who have violated the laws.
School uniforms have become a burden to many parents in the new school year. At their own initiative, the Dak Lak authorities in the Central Highlands have allowed parents to buy school uniforms for their children - blue pants and a white shirt. Should other provinces follow the Dak Lak example?
MoET has stated very clearly that school uniforms should be suitable to the local climate and economic conditions as well as the traditions. What's more important is that school uniforms must receive support from the parents.
However, wearing school uniforms is not a mandate for students in special circumstances. In the case of Dak Lak, we appreciate their decision. This is a clever and flexible way to implement the ministry's regulations. In my opinion, the lesson should be duplicated in other provinces and cities.
Extra classes have remained a big and serious problem for many years but no workable solution was found. Does MoET have any plans to solve this thorny problem?
I should say that MoET have issued many specific regulations governing the holding of extra classes. By now I can say, with active support from local authorities, the problem has some how been solved satisfactorily.
According to reports from 50 out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide, the provincial authorities there have directly intervened to eliminate holding extra classes in their localities.
For the remaining 13 provinces and cities, the local administrations have committed to doing their best to put a reign on extra classes, particularly the provinces of Quang Ninh, Da Nang, Phu Yen and Quang Nam.
However, in my own opinion, what we should do is to raise awareness among teachers and parents while imposing strict sanctions against violators.
In the long run, it is imperative to improve the school curriculum and text books along the line of making a balance between theory and practical skills for the students. The students should be taught the skills they need in life rather than focusing on what they need to pass their exams. In other words, the students will not have to bear examination pressures.
Whatever we are talking about, we cannot forget a very important factor - the quality of the teachers and the treatment they receive. MoET is resolved to providing better conditions for the teachers to give high quality service to their students. — VNS