Nguyen Thi My Loc, Chairwoman of the Council for Science and Teaching from the University of Education, VNU, spoke to newspaper Kinh te & Do thi (Economic & Urban Affairs) about teacher training.
Do you think the government should have a policy to encourage students who perform well to go to teacher training universities or colleges?
In my opinion, secondary high school graduates with high marks enrolling in teacher training universities or colleges should be exempted from tuition fees or given a 50 to 70 per cent scholarship. Of course, the scholarship will depend on their grades.
Their permanent residence should also be taken into consideration as there is a shortage of teachers in rural and remote regions.
Graduates who volunteers to go to rural or remote regions should be given higher salaries than those who teach in the delta. Investment will help to eradicate the knowledge gap between urban and rural areas.
In reality, not many outstanding high school graduates want to become a teacher. What do you think of this?
Viet Nam has 120 teachers training universities and colleges nation-wide.
The government should adopt special policies for students studying in these institutions. But the red carpet treatment should not be given to all of them. I suggest it should be divided into three tiers – national, regional and international levels. Proper planning to meet the future need for teachers is also essential. This planning depends very much on the birthrate of each year. For example, we should calculate how many children are born in 2015, in order to calculate how many grade 1 classes we should have. And then nine years later, how many of them will attend the 9th grade and so on.
I want to emphasis good planning for schools and teachers in the future. The planning must be based on precise projections. I'm confident that good planning will help us avoid schools closing due to a lack of pupils. A factor leading to such problems is the mass migration of workers from rural to urban areas and the movement of their off spring to urban areas. Schools in urban areas are overcrowded while schools in rural areas are mostly deserted. This is a macro issue for the government to consider and come up with good and practical policies.
Salary is also important to draw good students to teachers' training universities or colleges. Some people have suggested that teachers' salaries should be as high as those of soldiers. What's your reaction?
We should not compare salaries paid to teachers with those of the armed forces. However, I agree that teachers' salary at present is low. Yet, if we compare salary of teachers with salary of many other public employees, it is not low. For a teacher, in addition to his/her core salary, they earn additional money for the hours they teach or any scientific project that they participate in. Of course, the aggregated money they earn monthly is not enough for them to cover family expenses. So they have to work jobs on the side. This means they don't have much time to focus on preparing lessons. The side jobs, in one way or another, affect their teaching and their students.
Last but not least, our age-old tradition of respecting teachers. Proper salary given to teachers is one way to show respect to their good work and devotion. It is the best way to attract talented people to the pedagogy profession – the job of "growing people." — VNS