Nov 12, 2012

Vietnam - Educators forced to study education theory, again

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Lecturers at many universities are struggling to earn certificates in Marxism-Leninism and undergraduate teaching theory in order to continue lecturing or to keep tenure.

T.M.L., who has taught at a Ho Chi Minh City public university for nine years, was told at the beginning of this school year that he would have to hand in a Marxism-Leninism certificate if he wanted to keep the job.

“I don’t have the certificate because I obtained my master’s degree in Belgium where such a paper, though a graduation requirement for graduate students in Vietnam, was not included in my curricula,” he said.

Another city lecturer who has a master’s degree in educational psychology granted by a city pedogogical university is now enrolled in a course in undergraduate teaching theory as required by her school.

“It is an irony that I am required to re-educate myself with what I already learned during my college years,” she said. “What’s more, I have been teaching undergraduate courses for three years.”

An education ministry official explained that it is compulsory for a lecturer to get the two certificates if they are to maintain their tenure.

Pro forma courses

A lecturer complained that the courses are run as a perfunctory procedure without any real value.

“Course instructors understand that classes are organized to help college lecturers settle their paperwork problems so they get on very fast with the lessons,” he said.

Nguyen Phuong, another lecturer, said frankly that he is attending such a course just to be eligible for an exam to get tenure, not for the sake of learning itself.

Pursuing a higher teaching course at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Nguyen Duy Hai, a lecturer at Van Hien University, located in the southern city, said that he has signed up for it merely as a formality, instead of an actual motivation for acquiring new expertise.

Course-takers can check attendance for each other when their class coincides with lectures at their schools, Hai said.

He elaborated that academic standards are frequently compromised in his class, as group work is only done by one or two people and many of his classmates have even plagiarized final projects.

T.M.L., the Belgium alumnus, divulged that many lecturers had scored 7 or 8 (out of 10) on the same project passed from one to another for many courses.

“That’s pro forma and phony,” said an expert with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education.


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