Breakthrough innovation in state management of teachers highlighted in draft Teachers' Law

June 27, 2024 - 08:45
Following an extensive drafting period, the Ministry of Education and Training announced the draft Teachers' Law in May 2024, seeking to gather widespread public feedback. Vũ Minh Đức, Director of the Department of Teachers and Education Managers under the Ministry of Education and Training, spoke with Education magazine to discuss the significance of this proposed legislation.


Vũ Minh Đức, Director of the Department of Teachers and Education Managers under the Ministry of Education and Training. Photo

Following an extensive drafting period, the Ministry of Education and Training announced the draft Teachers' Law in May 2024, seeking to gather widespread public feedback. Vũ Minh Đức, Director of the Department of Teachers and Education Managers under the Ministry of Education and Training, spoke with Education magazine to discuss the significance of this proposed legislation.

The draft Teachers' Law attracted considerable attention from millions of teachers and the broader society. Although the concept of this legislative project has been under consideration for many years, it has not previously been implemented. So, why has the Ministry of Education and Training chosen this moment to pursue the project with such resolute determination? 

The Ministry of Education and Training has launched this initiative with renewed vigour, reflecting the critical role of education and training in national development. In Việt Nam, these sectors have consistently been prioritised in the national agenda.

Teachers are considered a vital resource and a pivotal force in advancing educational standards, warranting focused investment in both their quantity and quality. In Việt Nam, most teachers are employed in public schools, comprising about 90 per cent of the total, and are classified as civil servants under the Civil Servants Law. 

This classification means that teachers, like other civil servants, are subject to similar state management regulations. Consequently, teachers are essentially employees who are recruited, deployed, assigned and remunerated by administrative bodies to fulfil educational roles within public schools. 

A uniform and broad-brush approach is required to managing such a critical human resource as teachers can lead to inflexible and mechanistic systems that curb professionalism, stifle creativity, and diminish motivation and passion for the profession.

Effective state management of teachers necessitates a refined and specific legal framework that allows teachers, whether in public or private sectors, to recognise their roles, professions, missions and opportunities for career progression. Such a framework is essential to ensure successful outcomes for students and fulfil societal expectations.

Although Việt Nam's legal system already encompasses numerous regulations concerning teachers, there has been a longstanding desire and intention to establish a specific law dedicated to the profession. Given the millions involved and the unique professional values they uphold, which are integral to the nation's progress, instituting a dedicated Teachers' Law is deemed crucial, particularly in the present climate.

The education sector views the enhancement of the teacher workforce as a fundamental and transformative strategy crucial to the success of Việt Nam's comprehensive educational reforms.

The Ministry of Education and Training has undertaken meticulous preparations, grounding the development of the Teachers' Law on robust scientific, theoretical and practical foundations. This has included state-level scientific research, numerous conferences, seminars, and discussions; surveys engaging 547,786 educational professionals across various educational levels for input on policy refinement; and reviews of both national and international legal standards relevant to the teaching profession.

Tasked with spearheading the Teachers' Law project, the Ministry recognises the challenges involved but also sees a significant opportunity to address the concerns and aspirations of the teaching community through robust legislative foundations.

The proposed Teachers' Law aims to introduce potent new measures not merely to manage but to foster teacher development, thereby enhancing the nation's human resources - a strategic priority for Việt Nam's ongoing development.

You inquired about the new and robust elements aimed at teacher development that will be incorporated into the draft Teachers' Law. What are these elements specifically?

The draft Teachers' Law features five key policies: Identifying teachers; Establishing standards and titles for teachers; Streamlining recruitment, compensation, and working conditions; Enhancing training, fostering, treatment, and honouring of teachers; and Reinforcing state management of teachers. These policies are detailed within the draft law, which comprises nine chapters and 71 articles.

This legislation will, for the first time, provide a comprehensive and clear identification of teachers linked to their professional roles. This systematic regulation serves as a foundation for standardising and shaping policies and regulations for teachers, thereby ensuring the quality of the teaching workforce and promoting equality between teachers in public and private educational institutions.

The law aims to protect teachers in their professional activities and ensure their security. It will establish a legal framework designed to safeguard teachers by clearly defining their rights to work in a supportive and safe environment, ensuring respect for their dignity, and protecting their professional integrity. This includes specific provisions to ensure that teachers are treated equitably in their professional roles and career advancement opportunities. 

The law will standardise the teaching workforce to meet new realities.

The draft Teachers' Law introduces a Professional Teaching Certificate, expected to positively impact teachers and educational institutions. This certificate will allow teachers to work anywhere in the country without repeating probation periods, reducing administrative procedures when transferring, signing contracts, guest lecturing, or teaching at multiple schools. It will also benefit teachers moving between public and private institutions and retired teachers continuing to teach. The certificate will ensure uniform teaching quality across institutions and eliminate the need for refresher courses based on professional title standards. Additionally, it will facilitate international teacher exchanges and help control the quality of foreign educators in Việt Nam.

It will introduce unified recruitment regulations.

The draft Teachers' Law proposes comprehensive regulations on teacher recruitment, innovating methods and content to align with professional activities and ensuring the recruitment of talented individuals. It provides guidelines for the use and management of teachers in both public and private sectors, creating opportunities for professional development.

The law will also classify teachers' salaries at the highest level, ensuring equality between public and private sector teachers.

The draft law proposes measures to ensure that salaries and related policies for teachers in private, self-financed institutions are not lower than those for teachers with the same qualifications, experience, and titles in public institutions funded by the state budget. These regulations aim to ensure fair treatment and protect teachers, regardless of their workplace.

Finally it will address teacher surplus and shortage issues.

The draft Teachers' Law aims to adjust management regulations to unify state management of teachers across the system while increasing decentralisation. It emphasises the Ministry of Education's role in managing teachers, especially in early childhood and primary education, to resolve localised teacher surpluses and shortages and actively manage teacher distribution at provincial and national levels.

One of the breakthrough points in the draft Teachers' Law is the strong innovation in state management of teachers. Could you elaborate on this?

Compared to other professions, teachers have distinctive characteristics and high diversity, which shape the approach to state management of teachers. This is reflected in several features. 

Teachers make up a large proportion of the national workforce, especially the intellectual workforce, and have the highest proportion among public sector employees across various sectors and fields.

Teachers work in both public and private educational institutions. They are diverse in terms of educational levels, qualifications and locations (from early childhood to university, from vocational training to postgraduate education, in areas with different socio-economic conditions, and in urban and rural settings, including islands and border areas). Female teachers have a higher proportion, and the teaching workforce includes both Vietnamese and foreign nationals. 

Teachers' professional activities are unique. They involve developing students' personalities, professionalism in teaching, organising, guiding, advising, and inspiring students in their pursuit of knowledge, cultivating personal qualities and capacities. They serve as 'bridges' transferring knowledge, creative ideas, skills, and attitudes from one generation to the next, requiring high levels of exemplary behaviour, self-discipline, flexibility and creativity. 

Teachers' working time is calculated based on teaching hours, education sessions per academic year or course, or converted into weekly working hours.

Given these distinctive and diverse characteristics, managing teachers through a personnel management approach - focusing on administrative factors related to teacher employment, with less attention to their potential and development - is not suitable.

The draft Teachers' Law proposes shifting from personnel management to human resource management to create an environment and conditions for teachers to develop their fullest potential, maximise their motivation and contribute most effectively to both their personal and educational goals.

In the draft Teachers' Law, the Ministry of Education and Training plans to include five breakthrough points in state management of teachers:

Uniform Recruitment: Teacher recruitment for public early childhood and primary schools will be standardised nationwide.

Flexible Teacher Assignment: Teacher transfers and secondments will not be limited to districts or provinces but can occur between different provinces/cities and between public and private institutions. 

Strengthening Teacher Protection: Conditions will be enhanced to protect teachers, ensuring they work in safe environments and have strong motivation for professional development.

Enhanced Management Role: The education management agency will play a stronger role in selecting and appointing excellent teachers to managerial positions in educational institutions and leadership roles within the education management system.

Supportive Policies: Emphasis will be placed on developing policies to support and attract teachers.

These conditions are crucial to creating a safe working environment where teachers are protected and assured of their material and spiritual well-being, ensuring social security. This enables teachers to focus on their professional duties, continuously develop their careers, and receive due recognition for their achievements. It also maintains their motivation and dedication to the profession, improves their professional and pedagogical skills and provides equal opportunities for career advancement. Society will honour their professional status, fostering pride and respect for the teaching profession. 

As a result, becoming a teacher will naturally become the aspiration of talented and capable individuals, enhancing the profession's attractiveness, improving the quality of teacher training, and increasing the efficiency of teacher recruitment. VNS