Principle of Ha Noi College of Electrical Mechanics Dong Van Ngoc told the Kinh te & Do thi (Economic &Urban Affairs) newspaper about problems in vocational schools.
What is the biggest challenge for vocational schools in Viet Nam as the country integrates deeper into the global stage?
I think that the foreign language level of teachers is the biggest challenge for vocational schools in Viet Nam. Other challenges include working skills, soft skills and IT application. In order to address these challenges, we sent managerial staff and teachers overseas to improve their English. We also invited native English speakers to our school to help teachers. Last year was the first time we received Singaporean students who learned electrical installation in English. Our counterparts in the Institute of Technical Education from Singapore praised the course and said their students learned well from their Vietnamese teachers.
We plan to have 20-30 per cent of our teachers lecture in English and use foreign textbooks.
What do you think about Government policies to support teachers in vocational schools?
As far as I know, teachers from primary schools to universities that are under the management of the Ministry of Education and Training can join a programme to improve English but those from vocational schools cannot. I think that Government should offer this kind of support to all teachers including those from vocational schools.
I also think it's necessary to have typical salary and allowance to teachers at vocational schools to keep them. As they are competent in English, teaching and research, they would be offered better-paid positions at firms. Without supporting policies, we will fail to keep them.
Do you think full autonomy for schools is a way to keep good staff?
Full autonomy for schools is reasonable but at this time when Viet Nam is facing many challenges in integration, a trial model would be better.
Some vocational schools have poor enrollment [ they fail to enroll as many students as expected or the level of students is low]. Also, training technical human resources are quite costly, many schools cannot afford this with modest the funding from tuition fees. They need Government subsidisation. I think that autonomy must go with specific mechanisms so that schools can survive and develop.
The teacher is one factor in training quality. Who do you prefer to employ: university graduates or vocational college graduates?
We look at three groups of potential teachers. First is university graduates with distinction or excellence certificates. They usually have good academic thinking and skills relating to experimental lessons. Second is those graduating from technical teacher training university as they possess teaching skills, academy knowledge and occupational skills. Third is graduates from vocational colleges and award winners in occupational contests at national, regional or international level. Each group has its own advantages and limitations. So, vocational schools also need to offer retraining to have suitable human resources. — VNS