12-grade students at their break time at Trần Nhân Tông High School in Hà Nội. —VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng
HÀ NỘI — The National Assembly (NA)'s Committee on Culture and Education has asked the Ministry of Education and Training to reverse an earlier decision and make history a compulsory subject at high school level.
Nguyễn Thị Mai Hoa, deputy chairwoman of the committee said following a new survey on the implementation of new general education programme for history in high schools, the majority disagreed with the ministry’s announcement that it will no longer be a compulsory subject in the 2022-23 academic year.
There are some reasons for the disagreement, according to the deputy chairwoman.
History is believed to be a particularly important subject, playing a key role in political and ideological education for future generations.
High school students, aged 15 to 17 years old, have more mature awareness so they could have the acquisition of history knowledge better than the younger students.
This is also the age that determines the students’ formation of world views, nature, society, principles, codes of conduct, and human values.
The deputy chairwoman added that fostering historical knowledge for high school students was necessary in order to develop a comprehensive human being, arouse patriotic traditions, national pride, beliefs and aspirations to develop a prosperous country for Vietnamese people.
Therefore, the committee asked the ministry to regulate history as a compulsory subject in high schools.
Rebuilding the curriculum
Giving her opinion on the issue, NA deputy Nguyễn Thị Kim Thúy however said that all basic and core knowledge about Vietnamese and world history had been made compulsory at the secondary school level.
If History becomes a compulsory subject, the whole curriculum must be revised, according to Thúy.
At the high school level, history has been currently built into topics of political history, economic history, civilisation history and cultural history.
These are in-depth content helping students, who are oriented to study the humanities and social sciences, to approach their future careers.
New grade-10 textbooks had also been written following the direction, she said.
“We could not use the in-depth textbooks of history to teach all students,” she said.
Thúy said the process of developing and promulgating the new general education programme had consulted all relevant agencies before being implemented.
History, before being announced to be an elective subject, also received the consensus of the Association of Historical Sciences, she said.
“We need to consider carefully whether the change that regulates history as a compulsory subject is appropriate or not with just three months left before the school year begins,” she said.
Earlier education authorities announced a new general education programme under which from the school year of 2022-23 there will only be five compulsory subjects, and the rest will be elective.
History will be among the elective subjects with other social sciences like geography, economics and law.
The National Assembly issued Resolution 88 on November 28, 2014, on the renovation of the general education programme and textbooks.
It stipulated that the 12-year general education consisted of two stages: the basic education stage, made up of five years in primary education and four years of secondary education, followed by three years in high school that are oriented towards careers.
Under the new general education programme, history is tasked with educating patriotism and inspiring national pride. History will be taught at secondary schools for all grades from six to nine. Students will be equipped with basic knowledge of world and Vietnamese history.
History will be taught with in-depth content in high school education, helping students better understand the knowledge they had learned. The subject is among five social science subjects.
Changing teaching methods
Nguyễn Thị Việt Nga, NA deputy of Hải Dương Province, who also agreed that history should be a compulsory subject, said: “History education is never unnecessary.”
Nga also said the research shows that currently, students are not interested in the subject. The reason is not that the subject is not attractive but because it is heavy on academic knowledge, complicated and the presentation is quite boring.
At the same time, the subject’s teaching and examination still follow the old method. They still require students to memorise facts and numbers.
She suggested changing in the direction of encouraging children to see and evaluate historical events, and not just learning in a passive way.
Chairman of the committee Nguyễn Đắc Vinh said when history was made compulsory, it would not mean that all students would be forced to learn all the in-depth content of the subject's programme.
At the same time, he also suggested that the ministry continue to direct the innovation of teaching and examination of the subject instead of only requiring students to remember numbers and events, he said. — VNS