Measures for education advancement in Mekong Delta

May 13, 2023 - 09:40

At a conference on Education and Training Development in the Mekong Delta region, data on school and classroom networks have shown stability in the development of educational and training activities in the region.

MEKONG DELTA - The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta region is seeking to improve education quality and infrastructure for students, especially at a high level, to create skilled labour forces.

A class of grade 12 students at Thới Lai high school in Cần Thơ. Photo

Narrowing educational gaps 

At a conference on Education and Training Development in the Mekong Delta region, data on school and classroom networks have shown stability in the development of educational and training activities in the region.

Since 2011, the region has achieved promising educational results.

The disciplines and levels of study developed in scale, quantity and quality. The results of universal education and illiteracy eradication are guaranteed.

The region also pays attention to investing in high-quality education, gradually approaching and reaching the national education average level.

The scale of higher education and post-graduate education has gradually increased in recent years. The region has 13 cities and provinces and used to have only Cần Thơ University in 2000 in the entire region. By now, the region has 17 universities in 10 out of 13 cities and provinces. 

The remaining three provinces, Cà Mau, Bến Tre and Sóc Trăng, have either branches of universities or plans to invest in private universities.

This growth in numbers marks a vital contribution to improving people’s knowledge and the quality of human resources in the Mekong Delta. 

The total number of kindergartens in the region increased by 16 per cent to 2,000 schools. The rate of children attending preschool level rose from more than 63 per cent in 2011 to nearly 80 per cent. 

Around 400 continuing education centres have been opened since 2011, making a total of 2,100 centres in the regions. Establishing those centres is based on local needs, creating a favourable working and learning environment for learners.

The region has implemented joint programmes and training projects for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Specific projects on training in medicine and pharmacy, architecture and economics have been practised, contributing to improving the quality of human resources in the region.

Cần Thơ University and other provinces and cities in the region cooperated in training 1,000 scientific and technical staff for the Delta is recognised as a highlight of higher education in the region.

“The educational system has expanded to rural areas, remote areas, disadvantaged areas, borders and islands in the province,” said the head of Kiên Giang Province’s Education and Training Department, Trần Quang Bảo.

“The province now has over 620 educational units. The quality is gradually increasing.”   

The quality of education has also improved a lot as the rate of students passing the graduation exam in Kiên Giang province reaches 98.7 per cent in 2022.

Facing challenges

Despite achieved results, the Meklong Delta still faces many challenges when children in the region still fall behind in learning outcomes.

The enrollment rate of students at all levels is still lower than the national average, especially at secondary and high school levels.

The number of schools with standardised facilities and teaching equipment is much lower than the national average. Many schools still lack classrooms to conduct two shifts of teaching per day.

In certain remote and disadvantaged areas, there is a shortage of standard sanitary facilities.

According to the Annual Economic Report of Mekong Delta in 2022, published by the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Mekong Delta has the lowest rate of trained labour at 14.9 per cent. The rate of labour with university or higher degrees reaches 6.8 per cent, which is the lowest number compared to other regions in the country.

The remaining challenges come from both objective and subjective factors.

The budget for the education sector is limited, which leads to a lack of funds for investing in teaching equipment and constructing schools and classrooms. This costs even more in the region because of its geographical features.

There is a shortage of local teachers at secondary schools and high schools. 

The reality is the locals still do not prioritise their children’s education, and the understanding of the importance of education remains vague. Furthermore, many students see that university graduates enter the workforce with low-paying jobs, which also leads to several students dropping out, persisting at a high level.

Those challenges are “barriers” to the socio-economic development of localities in the region.

Enhancing education in Mekong Delta

The education and training development must be linked to the region’s socio-economic development.

The key disciplines must be focused on training and providing graduates that meet the demand of the region and the country.

“The development of education and training should shift from a focus on quantity to quality and effectiveness,” said Deputy Minister of Education and Training Phạm Ngọc Thưởng.

Professor Hà Thanh Toàn, head of Cần Thơ University, agrees on training fields that are currently needed in the region.

Toàn said: “Universities should shift to educate the majors that the region needs, especially hospitality and science and technology. Educational institutions should prioritise enrol these high-demand fields. This will greatly contribute to the region’s development.”

By 2030, the region has to improve the educational quality and invest in upgrading facilities of educational institutions to increase the enrollment rate of students at all levels and reach the national average rate of solid classrooms.

Developing Cần Thơ into a national education centre

Trần Việt Trường, head of the People’s Committee of Cần Thơ City, said: “The educational network from preschool to university in Cần Thơ City is being well-organised in terms of scale, fields of study and diverse in educational and training approaches.

There is an increasing investment of the state budget and other social resources.

“Cần Thơ University now offers around 200 majors at the undergraduate, master and doctoral levels.” 

“The university will continue to scale up the training fields, offering multi-disciplinary training approaches at different levels.”

Around 200 majors are offered at Cần Thơ University. Photo

The continuing education centres need to expand to urban cities with a focus on training healthcare, technology or engineering to serve the province's key industries, such as agriculture, energy, hospitality and digital economy.

These strategies will open up many opportunities for students in the region. It also requires functional departments and localities to simultaneously develop plans and practical solutions for implementation.

While having the quality and school networks improved, the localities should reasonably expand the network of educational and training institutions. 

Mobilising funds to build schools, especially avoid areas at high risk of land erosion. The educational and training facilities planning should be aligned with regional and local planning.

The Mekong Delta region should intensify the training of high-quality human resources, restructure professions and training levels towards prioritising the development of certain fields with strengths and potential and implement training in new professions demanded by the region.

The development of education in the region cannot overlook the importance of the quality of teachers and educational staff. The staff quality must meet the requirements to implement the general education programme for the 2021-2025 period with the vision for 2030. — VNS