Vietnam’s school system continues to receive heavy criticism for its unrestrained cheating, lack of development in curriculum and mandatory classes based on Leninist ideologies, forcing Vietnamese middle class parents to send their children abroad to pursue higher education.
Data from independent monitoring programs have shown that Vietnamese parents have abandoned the local education system, spending over $1 billion in sending at least 125,000 Vietnamese students (according to ICEF Monitor, which traces the international education industry) to foreign schools and colleges. The primitive state of Vietnamese education has also been linked to hampering the country’s economic growth, writes Tran Thi Minh Ha of Yahoo! News.
The contingent of individuals among Vietnam’s near-17 million school and university students continues to grow, coming to about 15 percent in 2013. Parents such as Nguyen Thi Thu have taken great measures to ensure their children are safe from the country’s corrupt educational system.
“I had to get my kids out of this education system which is all pressure and cheating. Once, my son asked me why he never got the top score even though he performed better than his friend. I couldn’t explain that his friend’s mother took better care of the teacher, giving her much money.”
Regardless of education being a national obsession, experts state that Vietnamese schools continue to inaccurately evaluate students and fail them, pushing parents to transfer their children to Western institutions in order for them to obtain the necessary qualifications required for gainful employment.
The current system continues to rely heavily on rote learning, manipulation of exams and a corrupt authority, negating any space for students to exercise critical thinking. Students continue to use outdated text books, cheating continues in examinations and teachers who receive less pay impart parts of the syllabus in private classes for an extra fee. Former education minister Pham Minh Hac also blamed the current books utilized for being so information heavy that they discourage students from studying.
“University education is so bad. Text books are full of unnecessary, tedious theory.”
To make matters worse, exam supervisors have intentionally left exam rooms to allow examinees to copy from previously prepared papers and discuss the answers with each other. Clips of this have gone viral and reached the attention of parents, but authorities have not taken action.
The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has already received criticism for the policies implemented in 2014, including the two in one exam, the replacement of marks with comments and a plan to equip primary school students with tablets.
In 2015, the Ministry aims to reform schools’ teaching and testing programs and to introduce new curriculum and textbooks. It also plans on encouraging all education and training institutions to take guidance from Viet Nam Escuela Nueva (VNEN) projects to equalize education. Exam preparations for senior secondary school graduation exams and college and university entrance exams will also be cancelled. Lastly, development of tertiary education will be promoted in order to meet the country’s needs for socio-economic and regional development.
A survey on the private equity sector carried out in the 4th quarter of 2014 by auditing firm Grant Thornton Vietnam revealed that education remained in the top four sectors that are most attractive to private investors, with the others being real estate, food and beverage, and retail. The education sector was voted for by 36 percent of the respondents.