Trần Xuân Nhĩ
Professor Dr. Trần Xuân Nhĩ, talks to Khoa học & Đời sống newspaper about a proposal to waive tuition fees for students from pre-school to the ninth grade in public schools
What do you think about the Government’s proposal to waive tuition fees for pre-school students up to ninth grade in public schools?
This is great news for all pre-school and primary pupils as well as for their parents. However, this is still a draft proposal and it will take time for it to become law. If the policy is expanded to cover secondary students it would be even better. Regrettably our Government does not have the sufficient conditions to satisfy all the requirements of the education sector at the moment.
Do you mean the Government needs much more money to do that?
Yes, it does. At present, infrastructure in many public schools in our country is still poor. So are the living conditions of our teachers. We can’t negate the fact that Việt Nam still faces a serious funding shortage for school investment.
Does that mean we can’t waive tuition fees for all public school pupils?
It’s a fact that we don’t have the money to waive fees for all public school pupils.
As you know Việt Nam is a nation of learning. While the country’s economic potential is still limited, many parents who have the money send their children to private schools. It is indisputable that the quality of private schools is better than public schools. No one can deny that fact. This is a common rule in all societies.
Can you explain more about the tuition system in Việt Nam?
According to the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), each year the Government has to spend about VNĐ 4,730 billion ($US) to cover tuition fees for five-year-old children attending public kindergartens and to support tuition fees for students in the non-public school system. This total sum of money accounts for about 20 percent of the State budget that the MOET receives from the Government.
This means the benefits enjoyed by students in public schools enjoys are better than those in private schools?
Tuition fees in public schools are not that high. For example, for pupil in kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and high schools in Hà Nội paid only VNĐ110,000/month ($5) while their peers in rural area had to pay only VNĐ55,000/month last year. This sum is compared to amount each student has to pay/contribute to schools nowadays. That’s why we should make the Government’s decision to waive tuition fees for children in pre-school and primary school a reality. We appreciate the Government’s proposal, but what I want to emphasise is that MOET should take action to prevent different kinds of fees.
Tuition fee waivers are good news for parents, but what about the schools?
Việt Nam’s policy is that all children must be able to attend school. Investment in education is necessary for national development. However, in many rural areas, particularly remote regions, schooling is sometimes too expensive for many children. That’s why the Government’s decision to exempt tuition fees is the right choice. However, on the other hand, the schools may face certain financial difficulties. In my opinion, MOET should make sure that head teachers do not abuse their power to force students to pay extra money.
Do you think that the money spent on schooling has become a burden for many families?
I couldn’t agree more. The money is not simply for tuition fees, but for many other activities. I hope that the National Assembly will adopt the proposal to waive tuition fees for pre-school children in kindergartens and pupils from years one to nine. — VNS