|Deep in software: Students of Van Ho Secondary School study history with the assistance of new computer software. — VNS Photo Nguyen Ngoc Minh
The lacklustre results of some Vietnamese students in the area of liberal arts gave pause to educationalist. They came up with a modern day search tool to rectify the situation, and the rest, as Nguyen Ngoc Minh
reports, may soon be history
The poor performance of many Vietnamese students in literature and history exams in recent years is worrying educationists.
To try and rectify the situation, Secondary School Project II and the Viet Nam Institute of Educational Sciences have created a search tool to help teach historical and cultural relics under the directive of Ministry of Education and Training.
Van Ho Secondary School in Ha Noi's Hai Ba Trung District is one of the first schools to place the software into its curriculum.
"This software has helped me and my classmates learn more about historical classics, including those that we have never heard about," says Pham Phuong Anh, a sixth grader at the Van Ho school. "It also helps us to study history better and enables us to learn more about Viet Nam's geography. We enjoy it very much."
The meticulously designed search tool serves as practical source of material for schools and universities. It comes in two languages that can be switched at the click of a button.
The software also has referential function similar to that of Google, even when the computer is disconnected to the internet. For example, when the phrase "ancient citadel" is typed into the search box, all relics containing this phrase will show up on the right of the screen. The data includes information about the relic, its images, address, the date when it was recognised as national relic as well as information about the school and students taking care of the object.
The software is the result of contributions from schools throughout the country. In an emulation movement "Friendly Schools, Active Students", many schools agreed to take care of relics within their area. The researchers have conducted studies, selected, re-arranged and systematised the database on relics in 63 provinces and cities.
Pham Truong Luu, principal of Van Ho Secondary School, says: "Our school has been chosen as a model to apply the search tool into teaching and extra-curriculum activities. In just a short period of time, our students are very interested in the software. It is such a useful reference for them to study literature, history and geography better."
There is a benefit for teachers as well as students. Teachers say it is of great assistance. Looking up information has never been easier thanks to countless sources, especially those on the internet.
However, the information related to historical and cultural relics requires precise and systematic references, therefore teachers have to spend lots of time and effort verifying the information before integrating it into the lessons or extra-curriculum activities.
Pham Thi Hong Hoa, literature and history teacher at Van Ho, says: "Using the software for a while, teachers have gained more knowledge about historical relics, which they can then impart to students. As an open-source software, more and more information about relics will be added, arousing students' interest in studying history."
Since May this year, Tien Thuy High School in the central province of Nghe An, has also applied the system and achieved positive results. According to Ho Dai Lam, principal of the school, the system enables students to acquire a lot of knowledge with perhaps only one visit to see the relic being studied.
He says it is useful for students to see the images of their friends taking care of the relics self-consciously, diligently and enthusiastically. "Furthermore, it has also met the demand for comprehensive development of the students in terms of righteousness, intelligence, shape and aestheticism. We teachers hope that the national-level historical and cultural relics search tool will renovate the teaching of history."
At present, the software contains information about more than 1,000 national-level historical relics. However, schools can continue to send information on the relics or world heritage sites within their area to enrich the content of the software.
"With the assistance of State cultural management departments, it is hoped that this software will soon be perfected and evaluated so that it can be applied widely at schools all over Viet Nam," Lam says. — VNS