Thursday, August 6 2020


Experience is key, not an extra qualification

Update: May, 16/2019 - 09:00


Khánh Dương

A professor at a leading university in HCM City was so worried he may lose his job and he took to Facebook to share his concerns.

The teacher has vast experience and has taught thousands of students.

But despite his impressive resume, he fears he may soon end up out of work because he doesn’t actually have a teaching qualification.

In 2005, Vietnamese law required educators to take a teaching qualification but many never bothered because they had been working in the field for many years.

The regulation was often ignored, as many academics were asked to teach students, and the demand for lecturers was high.

According to a higher education quality assessment report last year of Ministry of Education and Training, more than 43 per cent of lecturers across the country did not reach professional standards mostly due to lacking necessary certificates.

But now, 14 years after the law came into effect, universities and colleges have tightened the regulation.

This is because the number of admitted students assigned by the ministry to schools each year depends on its training quality which is largely determined by lecturers’ standards.

It means if a school has a smaller number of lecturers meeting standards, it is less likely that they are permitted to recruit more students.

Professors, associate professors and doctors whose academic knowledge and professional experience cannot be denied must still attend teaching qualification courses.

If they don’t, they will be dismissed from their position.

Higher educational facilities not only use lecturers from their own schools but also invite experts from ministries and agencies to teach.

This is why many lecturers do not have correct qualifications.

So picture the scene. After a tough day teaching students from all walks of life, the lecturers themselves have to then go back to school to study, swapping the lecterns for desks.

Should they have to do this? Many, if not all, have been doing the jobs for longer than the age of many of the students they teach.

Is this one extra qualification really that important? Surely experience, especially academic experience, is key when it comes to shaping the future of the next generation.

So why do they need an extra piece of paper just to allow them to do their job, jobs they have been doing for many years.

And what’s more important is often this particular certificate is not relevant to many of the subjects.  

Text books become outdated. Real learning comes from within, especially within the minds of longstanding lecturers who have been there, done that and have got the t-shirt.

It makes me think of my own university experience at journalism college five years ago.

The books taught me the basics, online research taught me the details, but learning from experience, or rather experienced lecturers, is the real key to a successful education.

It was their stories of what it is like in the real world that made me sit up and pay attention. Information you could never gleam from a textbook.

Most of my teachers were professional journalists, photographers and media specialists who spent their lives in newsrooms and not university staff rooms.

And guess what? None of them had any teaching qualification.

I’m sure it’s the same in other classes, be they technical, scientific or academic.

If you want to be the best at any line of work, you need to learn from those who are the best in that profession.

And from the students’ point of view, I’m sure that’s the best way to learn. It was for me.

Teaching those old dogs new, and in my mind, unnecessary tricks is a waste of their time, and a waste of money.

Kindergarten, primary, secondary and high school teachers must pass teaching qualifications, that is fair enough. They need to be in the right frame of mind when dealing with children.

But lecturers are dealing with young adults and passing on what they know best, experience.

It is fair and should be compulsory to require English lecturers to earn credentials like Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

In anywhere else not only in Việt Nam, professional qualifications of lecturers are rated by quality of students. In Japan, for example, the lecturers’ selection is based on degrees, how many years they have been in the field, how impressive scientific profiles are and what they present during the interview.

Regulations must be adjusted to make teaching qualification a flexible criteria depending on each educational level and major.

Only when the law is put into the right place and the requirements are applied in relevant majors, will the legislation be brought into effect.

More certificates on your wall at home or in your office doesn’t make you a better teacher. At the end of the day, the only qualification good lecturers need are from the university of life. — VNS

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