Teachers given autonomy to select sets of textbooks

September 25, 2018 - 11:00

“One curriculum, many sets of textbooks”, a new policy which is about to take effect in the coming time, welcomes publishing houses in Việt Nam to compile textbooks. Vietnam Education Publishing House is no longer the only one holding the monopoly of printing and distributing textbooks.

A class of Tân Lập B Primary School in Bình Phước Province. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — “One curriculum, many sets of textbooks”, a new policy which will soon take effect, welcomes publishing houses in Việt Nam to compile textbooks, ending Vietnam Education Publishing House’s long-held monopoly.

This means teachers will able to choose the textbooks they use.

Lê Duy Tân, head of secondary and high school education division of HCM City’s Department of Education and Training, said teachers would choose based on educational purposes and practical conditions.

According to Trần Mậu Minh, former rector of Trần Văn Ơn Secondary School in HCM City’s District 1, teachers should select textbooks with practical knowledge that improve students’ soft skills rather than just academic knowledge. Textbooks should encourage students to explore knowledge themselves and bring into play their hobbies and talents.

Educational experts agree that textbook selection requires teachers to assess them properly.

They said that at first, when teachers lack experience in selecting relevant textbooks, school’s education council should hold discussions and assess textbooks carefully.

Trial periods will be held for each set of textbooks in each subject and then feedback will be collected from teachers to make decisions, Lưu Hồng Uyên, head of educational division of HCM City’s District 6 told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.

Dr Nguyễn Viết Đăng Du, history teacher of HCM City’s Lê Quý Đôn High School, told the newspaper he would choose textbooks that inspire students with eye-catching and logical layouts, focused content and at reasonable price.

Đỗ Đức Anh, a teacher of HCM City’s Bùi Thị Xuân High School, said teachers need to study the books carefully to make good decisions.

“I will pick books that are not heavily packed with knowledge but encourage students to work creatively, independently and have opportunities to practise their skills,” he said.

Teacher Trương Minh Đức from Lê Quý Đôn High School said the existence of numerous sets of textbooks is not a big deal for teachers who do not depend too much on textbooks  and use “out of the box” teaching methods.

Avoid wastefulness

The printing and distribution of textbooks has been a topic of public concern in current times, with many arguing the use of textbooks is a great waste as students often write their answers directly in the books, meaning the books cannot be reused.

For the first time, textbook printing and circulation is now under the scrutiny of National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children.

Phạm Tất Thắng, deputy head of the committee, told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that textbook printing and circulation monopoly has put great cost burdens on parents and society.

It is wasting materials and human resources used to print the books, he said.

“The ‘one curriculum, many sets of textbooks’ policy allows teachers and students to change their teaching, learning methods and stimulate their creativity as well as improve educational quality,” he said.

Despite the reported waste, Vietnam Education Publishing House recently claimed that they incurred an average yearly loss of VNĐ40 billion (US$1.7 million) between 2015 and 2017, according to State Audit of Vietnam.

Hoàng Lê Bách, general director of the publishing house, affirmed that textbook authors have reminded students not to write in the book through references printed under multiple choice exercises or in teachers’ instruction books.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyễn Hữu Độ said to avoid further waste, the ministry has asked schools nationwide to require students to write answers in their notebooks rather than in the textbooks so they can be reused.

Publishing houses which intend to compile sets of textbooks will be asked to remind teachers and students in the books, he said. — VNS