Authorities vow to improve quality of pre-school education
  • By Hong Hanh | | July 19, 2013 08:41 AM
 >>  Substandard infrastructure hinders education reforms

The following is an interview with the deputy minister of Education and Training, Nguyen Thi Nghia, about the shortcomings and low quality of pre-school education in Vietnam.

Deputy minister of Education and Training, Nguyen Thi Nghia
 Students in Pa Cop Commune, Son La Province take a nap

It is reported that 363 wards and communes don't have kindergartens and over 1,000 villages have to teach children in poorly-made bamboo classrooms. Therefore, many kindergartens lack essential facilities such as toilets and clean water. Does the ministry have a solution to deal with this situation?

Our education quality differs from region to region. The challenges are greater in the mountainous and remote areas of the country that have only 24.2% of the facilities required by the national standard.

However, the Universalising Pre-school Education for Five-Year-Old Children project that we implemented three years ago, proved to be effective. At the end of 2012-2013 school year, the number of kindergartens increased by 295 to 13,741, compared to the previous school year. The enrollment and attendance rates have also increased.

In the next school year, 2013-2014, we will concentrate on building new kindergartens in disadvantaged areas as well as improving the quality of the teaching equipment.

Our teaching staff is not only short in numbers but also lacks sufficient high-quality teachers. Meanwhile, supporting policies for teachers in the mountainous and remote areas revealed many shortcomings, plus teachers in those areas have serious financial troubles to face. How can we solve this problem?

We are in need of 27,554 more teachers, though 40,000 teachers have been recruited after the implementation of Pre-School Education Universalisation Project. Wages and benefits for 70% of teachers have been secured so they have been able to concentrate totally on teaching. We are also trying to revise the kindergarten teacher-training programmes and supporting policies to make them more practical.

Is Universalising Pre-school Education for Five-Year-Old Children Project the ultimate solution to reform  pre-school education?

The objective of Decision 239, issued in 2010, is to attain universal standards of preschool education for children aged five years to 85% in all provinces by 2012. But the rate is only 9.5% as of now. The localities need to improve their support systems and facilities for teachers-- such as buying more toys and other equipment.

The process to improve the quality of pre-school education will also be addressed and tightly monitored, especially in remote areas. Ethnic children will be taught Vietnamese and disadvantaged children will be supported. We hope to have 18 more provinces reaching universal standards of preschool education during 2013-2014 school year.

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