New general education programme needs further assessment

August 31, 2021 - 09:00
After one year implementing a new general education curriculum, the Ministry of Education and Training assesses that first graders were more fluent in reading and writing after the first semester, but teachers and parents disagree.


Students had to learn at home due to the COVID-19. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI ­– After one year implementing a new general education curriculum, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) assessed that students were bolder and more confident, and first graders in particular were more fluent in reading and writing after the first semester.

However, many teachers and parents disagreed with the ministry’s evaluation, saying it was too optimistic.

They asked the MoET to have a proper assessment to deploy appropriate educational activities, especially as first graders have to study online from the beginning of the new school year.

Over-optimistic assessment

Nguyễn Hồng Minh, a primary teacher, said that the MoET evaluation of “proficiency in writing and reading right in the first semester” was too optimistic.

Minh said the new general education curriculum had many positive points and accelerated the speed of Vietnamese learning, but most students achieved such results thanks to their parents.

“Parents had to teach or sent their children to classes to learn reading and writing before entering the first grade,” Minh said. “And during the school year, the children had to be closely tutored at home. So the children’s achievements were not really due to the new curriculum.”

Nguyễn Thị Quyên, a woman living in Hà Nội’s Gia Lâm District, said that her daughter could not fluently read after finishing the first grade last year.

Lê Quỳnh Liên, a mother of a first grader in Hà Nội’s Thanh Trì District, said: “After finishing the first grade last year, my daughter could write and read proficiently. But it could not be said that she could fluently write and read right in the first semester.”

“In fact, so far, she still confuses some words and tones.”

Liên said the 2020-2021 academic year was a difficult year for teachers and students, especially for first graders, because it was the first year of teaching the new general education programme and was also badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the school year, children had to study online in some months and took a long break from school to take the year-end exams,” the mother said. “Therefore, to accurately assess the effectiveness of the new programme was difficult and not entirely fair.”

“It was a fact that in the early stages of the school year, my family and children were also under a lot of pressure because under the new programme, teaching of the Vietnamese language subject is very quick.”

Meanwhile, the MoET said that the new curriculum had 70 more Vietnamese lessons than the old one, equal to an increase of 12 classes per week.

This was to help students learn reading and writing quicker, so that they could learn other subjects well.

However, teachers have the right to actively adjust learning plans to suit their students.

The ministry said that the cause of the pressure on parents and students was that parents had not been provided with sufficient information about the new curriculum.

Teachers and schools were still confused and lacked confidence when first given autonomy in building a specific curriculum suitable for each student.

Adjustments for online study

According to Minh, the idea for students to quickly learn reading and writing was good but also heavy for them.

“In the first two weeks of the last school year, I found the new programme so fast that students did not have enough time to memorise letters and words which made them confused,” she said.

“Therefore, I had to teach slower and extend the curriculum to the second semester,” the teacher said. “It was off-line learning so the online study was more stressful for both children and teachers.”

Lê Thu Hương, a first-grade teacher in Hà Nội, said that teaching Grade 1 could not be rushed and online learning was even more gradual and meticulous.

"In the first semester last year, students studied in school and faced pressure. But in the very first days of this school year, students had to learn online due to COVID-19 so they would definitely face more pressure due to less time studying and directly interacting with teachers,” Hương said. “Therefore, the curriculum for online study should be further reduced.”

Assessing the new education programme and new textbooks, Minh said that there were many new and positive points, with more active teaching methods, as well as richer and better teaching materials.

Lessons were designed in a more open direction, and since then students have been able to expand their thinking in many directions and dimensions instead of the fixed-minded forms of before.

Thus, students were bolder and more confident. And teachers had the right to be proactive and flexible in their teaching plans.

However, the MoET assessment of students' reading and writing proficiency right from the first semester would unintentionally put pressure on teachers and parents to achieve this goal, especially grade 1 who have to learn online from the beginning of this school year, Minh said. VNS

New guidelines for primary education

HÀ NỘI – The Ministry of Education and Training has issued new guidelines for primary education, in the context of the pandemic.

Grades 1 and 2 will focus on maths and Vietnamese language. The schools have to effectively cooperate with parents to carry on with online studying with the appropriate time and methods.

In case of an inability to organise online teaching, educational institutions instruct students to learn via television in the "Teaching Vietnamese Grade 1" programme on VTV7, which started from September 6, from 2:30-3pm every day. VNS