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Administrative fines are not the only solution

Update: October, 12/2018 - 09:00
Trần Thành Nam.  — Photo vpis.edu.vn

Professor Dr Trần Thành Nam of the Hà Nội National University’s School of Education talks to Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic and Urban Affairs) newspaper on the draft decree to issue heavy fines for administrative violations in schools.

Do you have any comments on the Ministry of Education and Training’s proposal to impose heavy fines on administrative violations?

To my understanding, the Ministry of Education and Training has tried to solve the problem of physical and non-physical violence in schools nationwide. However, in my opinion, the Decree should not emphasise monetary penalties too much.

According to the draft Decree, any act of corporal punishment on a student will incur a VNĐ30 million (US$1,400) fine. What is your point of view on this?

We should think twice before deciding to levy a fine on any improper acts in the field of education. Fines exist at varying levels in other countries, but preventative measures are the priority. For example, a teacher is issued an administrative fine for a technical error. But if he or she commits an error of ethics or morality, I do not think the administrative sanction is a very good educational tool. The reality is that while Việt Nam has imposed many fines, these penalties seem meaningless to most violators. This is particularly evident with the rule against smoking in public places.

If we want to introduce a rule that applies to everyone, including teachers, we should think carefully about its pros and cons.

Do you agree with the proposal that any teacher who is caught organising extra hours for their students will be fined up to VNĐ10 million ($428)?

I should say the issue of extra teaching has long been a problem for the whole society. Many teachers have argued they do not have enough classroom hours with their students. This issue is not black and white. There should be opportunities for teachers to do their jobs, but when extra hours are planned students are the ones who suffer.

Do you mean to say that the draft Decree is not workable as written?

In my opinion, the draft is not workable. There are outstanding issues with how it is structured – who will collect the fines? What will the fines be used for? The Ministry of Education and Training has already issued statements on proper behaviours for students.

We should be aiming to change the educational model. Right now it is too transactional. We should change the concept of buying and selling education.

As a society, we need a positive outlook on the education sector and the work our teachers do. — VNS

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