Vietnam has a salary policy that proves nothing less than an insult to teachers and goes against its overall spirit of respecting those working in the education sector, a prominent educator said Tuesday at a conference on education reforms in Hanoi.
Professor Hoang Tuy, a 85-year-old mathematician who is among the country’s best in his area, complained it is extremely unfair that executives at state-owned enterprises, which operate with modest efficiency, earn tens of times more than university professors do.
A teacher with 25 years of experience receives a mere VND4.1 to 4.7 million (up to US$226) a month, while a fresh college graduate can earn as much as VND5 million ($240) per month if he chooses to work in the private sector.
Such meager salaries play a major part in wrongdoings and academic dishonesty in education, the professor said.
He added that teachers should be remunerated better if the education system is to be reformed.
“Efforts to improve our education will not pay off without raising teachers’ salary first,” Prof. Tuy insisted. “Our current salary policy indicates nothing other than an affront to educators.”
As part of his proposal to better the education system, the mathematician suggested directing two-thirds of middle school graduates to vocational schools and the others to high schools to prepare for higher learning.
This suggestion came against the backdrop that undergraduate programs are presently the sole aim of Vietnamese school students as many tend to view a university degree as the only way to succeed in life.
Prof. Tuy recommended lightening the current curriculum because students seem to be assigned with too much schoolwork.
High school students should be spared from a tense graduation exam at the end of grade 12, which can be replaced by a more relaxed one, the academic said, adding that the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) should return the preparation of college admission tests to universities and junior colleges themselves.
Tertiary schools had been allowed to give such tests until 2002 when MoET stepped in to set the tests. They have been required to admit students based on their performance on the tests ever since.
Prof. Ho Ngoc Dai, who once designed a training program for a MoET pilot project, proposed cutting formal education to 9 years from the current 12 years, as he thought that is enough for basic education.
Vietnamese formal education now consists of 5 years of elementary school, 4 years of middle school, and 3 years of high school.
Prof. Van Nhu Cuong, another veteran educator, agreed with his peer, adding that education officials should eliminate “redundant” and “unnecessary” knowledge from the curriculum to realize Prof. Dai’s idea.
“Much of what high school students are learning is only suitable for math majors who want to explore it at university,” Prof. Cuong pointed out.
He noted that failure to teach students “to be humans” is a serious shortcoming of Vietnam’s education, which refers to the fact that schoolgoers are merely stuffed with academic knowledge rather than necessary skills to behave and survive out there.
“It takes time to correct this mistake,” he said.
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