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close this bookGlobalization and Living Together: The Challenges for Educational Content in Asia (CBSE - IBE, 2000, 136 p.)
close this folderPART V: COUNTRY PAPERS ON CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FROM SELECTED STATES IN SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ASIA
View the documentBangladesh - Curriculum planning, development and reform for primary and secondary education
View the documentBhutan - Curriculum development for primary and secondary education
View the documentIndia - Education policies and curriculum at the upper primary and secondary education levels
View the documentIndonesia - Goals and objectives of education
View the documentMalaysia - Curriculum planning, development and reform
View the documentMaldives - Education policies, curriculum design and implementation at the level of upper primary and general secondary education
View the documentMyanmar - National aspects of curriculum decision-making
View the documentNepal - Education policies, curriculum design and implementation at the general secondary level
View the documentPakistan - Curriculum design and development
View the documentPhilippines - Curriculum development
View the documentSri Lanka - Curriculum design and implementation for upper primary and general secondary education
View the documentThailand - Curriculum planning, development and reform
View the documentViet Nam - Curriculum planning, development and reform

Viet Nam - Curriculum planning, development and reform

Nguyen Thi Minh Phuong and Cao Thi Thang

Estimated population (1995)

73,800,000

Public expenditure on education as percentage of Gross National Product (1995)

2.7

Duration of compulsory education (years)

5

Primary or basic education

Pupils enrolled (1995)

10,029,000

Teachers (1995)

288,200

Pupil/teacher ratio

34:1

Gross enrolment ratio (1995)

- Total

114

- Male

-

- Female

-

Net enrolment ratio (1995)

- Total

-

- Male

-

- Female

-

Estimated percentage of repeaters (1995)

-

Estimated percentage of drop-outs (1995)

-

School-age population out of school (1995)

-

Secondary education

Students enrolled (1995)

3,794,290

Gross enrolment ratio (1995)

- Total

47

- Male

-

- Female

-

Third-level enrolment ratio (1995)

4.1

Estimated adult literacy rate (1995)

- Total

94

- Male

97

- Female

91

Source: UNESCO statistical yearbook, 1998, Paris

BACKGROUND

Rationale for educational reform

In April 1991, the seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam put forward a new national programme and strategy for socio-economic stabilization designed to build a prosperous, powerful, just and civilized society for all citizens. This renovation programme is expressed in the shift from a subsidy-based economic mechanism to a market-oriented one, the development of an open, multi-sector, and socialist-oriented economy, under State management.

Educational reform in Viet Nam is intricately linked to this major national initiative whose goals require a supportive, reinforcing education programme. The existing socio-economic, political and cultural climate of the country call for a redesign of educational objectives, contents and methods, in order to meet the human resource needs for the projected industrialization and modernization period. The aim is to complete the basic modernization and industrialization of the country by the year 2020. Viet Nam seeks to join with the international community, while still preserving and developing its national traditions.

Reforms to curricula have come about not only due to recognition by the government of these global pressures, but also due to the demands of teachers, pupils and parents who are aware of the outdated nature of the curriculum and the need for on-going curriculum change. Previously, the curriculum had been designed to endure within a long-term perspective: the primary curriculum for about twenty years; and the secondary for over ten years. This is therefore only the third reform, the first took place in the 1950s, the second, in the 1970-80s.

Educational aims

In the draft Education Act (submitted to the National Assembly in December 1998) the national educational aims are broadly stated as:

Forming and fostering the personality, quality and ability of citizens; training working people who: are faithful to the ideal of national independence and building of a fair and civilized society; are moral, dynamic and creative; know how to preserve and promote the cultural values of the nation; are receptive and open to all cultures; and have the necessary sense of discipline, organization and industrious behaviour to meet the requirements for building and defending the nation.

Curriculum development and reform

Curriculum development in Viet Nam is based on three factors: (1) the vision of the country’s leaders concerning the economy and society within the next ten to twenty years; (2) educational achievements and curriculum development experiences, based on the country’s characteristics; (3) the curriculum development trends and experiences of other countries. Current reforms are based on the following orientations:

· a focus on basic, practical content which can be applied in everyday life;

· an update of content based on scientific, technological and other developments in modern society;

· the renovation of teaching/learning methods in order to help students develop initiative and creativity in learning;

· development of each student’s ability, especially the ability and methods for self-learning;

· due consideration for humanistic and international education;

· preservation of the national identity of Viet Nam, while participating in the world community;

· focus on international curriculum goals of learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, learning to live together.

THE CURRICULUM ADAPTATION PROCESS

Administrative structures of curriculum reform

The system of curriculum development in Viet Nam is centrally managed by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET). However, the Centre for the Development of Curriculum and Methods of Education (CDC-ME), established in 1961 under National Institute of Educational Sciences (NIES), is the agency with major responsibility for curriculum research and development (including curricular reform). NIES’s extensive curriculum mandate was given when the Minister of Education and Training took the decision to establish a Curriculum Development Board (CDB) and designated NIES as the agency in charge.

· In undertaking the current reforms, the Minister of Education and Training decided to establish the following additional agencies:

· In 1996, a Board of Primary Education Curriculum Development - 2000 was set up, consisting of seventy-five members drawn from research agencies or administrations of primary education at central or local level, including universities. During the curriculum reform, this board benefited from a short training course held in Viet Nam by education specialists from the United States of America, Japan and Australia.

· A Council for Curriculum Evaluation consisting of ninety-eight members belonging to twenty-eight educational agencies at central and local levels, including universities. In addition, there is a primary education project: ‘Evaluation of mathematics and mother tongue teaching at 4th and 5th grades’ supported by the World Bank and co-ordinated by the National Institute of Education.

· In 1998, a Board of Junior Secondary Education Curriculum Development, consisting of twenty-five experts drawn from NIES, universities and departments within the MOET. This Board operates within an Asian Development Bank - Viet Namese Government Project, Junior Secondary Education Innovation (1999 - 2004). During the realization of the project, two groups of curriculum developers were sent to Germany, Thailand and Australia in order to collect documents about curriculum development and to exchange experiences.

The stakeholder method guides curriculum development and implementation in Viet Nam. Various MOET subject experts, university teachers and outstanding general education teachers are selected for CDB membership. During the development process, experts, professors, administrators, teachers and parents are all invited to provide comments on, or evaluate the curriculum. An evaluation council, established by MOET, is comprised of representatives drawn from central and local level educational administration and universities.

Process of curriculum development

The primary and secondary school objectives are based on the general statement of national aims and the curriculum orientation guidelines. Different subjects are identified and defined for each level by curriculum specialists. Teachers can emphasize or omit parts of subject objectives.

In Viet Nam, the curriculum has traditionally been regarded primarily as a written document which sets up the subject contents, consisting (essentially) of three parts: 1.educational objectives; 2. educational contents for each school year; and 3.curriculum interpretation. However, the view of the curriculum document has changed, resulting in modifications that include: (a) considerations of experiences in foreign countries; (b) the methods, orientation and learning aids; and (c) ways of organizing the assessment and evaluation of student learning outcomes. Also, several new actions are being undertaken: (a) standards for each subject are being designed; (b) some 10-15% of the content now includes a local component (local geography, history, economy, culture); (c) local variations in the national syllabus are being introduced by teachers (i.e. local timetables, local schemes of work, etc.).

Learning methods and approaches

Teaching and learning methods are presently being reformed, with the intention of fostering, under the supervision and guidance of the teacher, self-directed discovery learning, based on each student’s individual abilities. This is an attempt to transform traditional teacher-centred approaches, in which students play a largely passive role, and which stifle both the pupils’ and teachers’ creativity. The curriculum development centres, educational research centres and teacher-training colleges recommend the various learning methods, orientations and approaches to be used. The teacher-training colleges serve as moderators and monitors in the use of certain methodologies (discussion, role play, experimental methods, etc.).

CURRICULUM MATERIALS

The State controls the development and writing of various instructional materials for schools. The government directly supports the compilation and development of textbooks and teachers’ guides. Books are sold to teachers and students - they are distributed free of charge only to those students who are particularly disadvantaged. At present, a programme of loaning textbooks to primary students in disadvantaged areas is being developed. Private companies only have the right to develop and print non-compulsory reference books for teachers and students.

· The typical procedure for textbook preparation is as follows:

· The National Institute for Educational Science, the Educational Publishing House and the MOET Councils of Subjects jointly select and introduce a list of authors for approval by the Minister in the MOET;

· The Educational Publishing House (an agency of MOET) organizes the writing of textbooks by giving financial support (creating favourable conditions for consulting professionals and experts);

· The Council for Textbooks evaluates the textbook drafts, then submits them to the Minister for approval. Each level of education usually has only one set of textbooks and there is no option for other textbook use.

Apart from textbooks, teachers’ guides, exercise books, reference books for teachers and students, and videocassette tapes are produced for each subject. Other learning aids are reviewed by a committee before being produced and supplied to schools. Learning aids are also made from local materials by teachers and pupils themselves, while others are imported (from China, Germany).

EVALUATION

There is a link between the regular tests carried out in the classroom and the periodic tests set by official regulation. The former occur at the end of each important chapter or textbook subject; the latter at the end of the school term or school year. The purpose of examinations at different levels of education is mainly to consider student promotion to a higher class (which is based on the ability to pass the examination) and to inform the parents about progress. The assessment of students is typically based on percentage calculations, or grading (very good, good, fair, weak).

It is recognized that the current method of evaluating and assessing student learning in Viet Nam should be improved, as the current approach does not take into consideration various categories of student achievement. Due consideration has not yet been given to the inclusion of other assessment information (records, files, practice records in the laboratory, etc.) and to a diagnosis of the individual development of students. This easily results in a biased, one-sided attitude toward teaching/learning and achievement (on the part of both the teachers and the students).

Research is now being conducted on how to evaluate students in more essential ways, that is, by using methods that more accurately reflect the curriculum implementation impact at each level of education.

THE PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING TO LIVE TOGETHER AS CURRICULUM CONTENT

In Viet Nam, there is no specific reform relating only to the principles of learning to live together. They may be seen as being part of general reforms. These principles have been translated into objectives for the primary and secondary school based on the national educational goals. These are incorporated into the curriculum through both a cross-curricula approach and extra-curricular activities. The principles are inherent in the content of certain subjects, such as Vietnamese language and literature, civics, history, geography, foreign languages (English, French, Russian). Some aspects of the principles are also included in the sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) and technology.

In both primary and secondary school, the theme of learning to live together is also taught through selected content from several interdisciplinary subjects (i.e. global education, population education, education for environmental protection, technical education, peace education, HIV/AIDS prevention, etc.). Extra-curricular activities can create positive attitudes, mutual understanding, responsibility, etc. (i.e. class meetings, flag saluting, celebrating public days, cultural galas among schools, song and dance competitions, gymnastics, etc.).

SUCCESSFUL ASPECTS OF REFORM

The following may be cited as advances in the process of curriculum reform: (a) incorporation of new ideas and trends relating to the organization and mechanisms utilized in the curriculum development process; (b) efforts to raise the scientific level and update subject contents; (c) the inclusion of medical and population education, and environmental protection in curriculum contents; and (d) adopting a systematic approach to raising teachers’ skills and abilities in subject content and teaching methods.

Progress of reforms to date

· New curricula are being developed for primary, junior secondary and streamed secondary education.

· The primary education curriculum is being tested during implementation. Due to financial constraints, only the mathematics, language teaching and ethnic curricula are presently being implemented.

· The curriculum for junior secondary education is being modified on the basis of experts’ comments. The Council of Evaluation will be organized in order to examine the results.

· The curriculum for streamed secondary education is being tested in 180 schools located in all provinces in Viet Nam.

PROBLEMS IN REALIZING REFORMS

· Resistance to change shown by administrators, politicians and teachers.

· Lack of expertise and access to up-to-date information: innovation has often been undertaken by staff who have not been specifically trained in the field of curriculum development. Thus, new viewpoints on the curriculum have often been applied ineffectively, due to a lack of knowledge and skill in using the right approaches. Attempts to define required knowledge and skills within the curriculum present difficulties due to limited expertise in an area where, previously, textbooks were considered to contain all the necessary knowledge for students. There is limited access to up-to-date methodologies on curriculum (definition, function, structure), and on curriculum development processes; for example, in choosing basic contents and life-related contents (social issues) for each subject.

· Inappropriate content: the curriculum as it is taught does not meet the stated aims. It is over-loaded, too academic, lacking in practical components and inconsistent with local realities. Therefore, students are not provided with the necessary knowledge and skills they need to enter the world of work.

· Ineffective teaching methods: despite efforts to reform teaching methods, the old methods have remained in use, which prevents changes taking place in students’ learning experiences. This is at least partly linked to the fact that teachers are inadequately trained and instructional materials are limited. To date, change in teaching practice occurs mostly in large cities where it is stimulated by high-quality local competitions. There is a need both for more effective organization of pre- and in-service teacher education and for teaching materials that are appropriately designed to meet new teaching/learning approaches

CENTRAL LEVEL
· MINISTRY
· LOCAL
· CURRICULUM CENTRE
· CENTRAL EXAMINATION BOARD

REGIONAL/PROVISIONAL LEVEL
· LOCAL AUTHORITIES
· INSPECTORS
· TEACHER COLLEGES

SCHOOL LEVEL
· HEADS
· TEACHERS
· COMMUNITIES

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

Drafts national aims and objectives in detail;
Completes aims and objectives after receiving feedback from regional levels.

Makes remarks and comments on predefined aims, feedback to the central level;
Helps teachers understand the aims.

Makes aims and objectives effective;
Interprets aims and objectives to pupils.

CURRICULUM PLAN

Drafts curriculum framework, syllabus and decides timetables, teaching plan;
Completes them after receiving feedback from regional level.

Makes remarks and comments upon the drafted curriculum framework, feedback to the central level;
Updates, if necessary, the national syllabus;
Creates local timetables.

Makes schemes of work;
Implements curriculum plan.

METHODS AND APPROACHES TO LEARNING

Recommends methods and approaches to be used;
Training of trainers (key teachers from regional level) in the use of advanced methodologies.

Trains teachers in the use of suitable methodologies.

Practises various methodologies;
Selects approaches related to local cultural community life.

MATERIALS

Commissions and writes textbooks, teachers’ books, exercise books, references;
Organizes researching and production teaching.

Gives guidance using materials;
Initiates locally relevant materials.

Uses textbooks, teachers’ guides;
Chooses references, exercise books and recommends parents to buy them;
Uses (or ignores) materials from environment

EVALUATION AND EXAMINATION

Produces revision guidance handouts for baccalaureate examinations at secondary school;
Makes test questions for baccalaureate examinations at secondary school.

Trains teachers on how to supervise exams and to evaluate;
Evaluates school and teachers activities and sets standards;
Sets some local examination (for LSS, Primary).

Evaluates growth of pupils (knowledge, behaviour, health, etc.);
Sets all internal tests and examinations;
Marks work and keeps records according to certain principles.

TABLE 2. Primary education teaching periods: number per year


Grade/Year


Subject

1

2

3

4

5

Compulsory

1. Vietnamese language

363

330

297

264

264


2. Mathematics

132

165

165

165

165


3. Morals

33

33

33

33

33


4. Nature and society

33

33

66




- Science

66



66

66


- History

33



33

33


- Geography

33



33

33


5. Technology

33

66

66

66

66


6. Music

33

33

33

33

33


7. Art

33

33

33

33

33


8. Physical education

66

66

66

66

66


9. Health

33

33

33

33

33


Total

759

792

825

825

825

Optional

10. Foreign language



66

66

66


11. Information



66

66

66


12. Club activities



66

66

66


Total



Max

Max

Max





132

132

132

TABLE 3. Lower secondary education curriculum: periods per year



Grade/Year


Subject

6

7

8

9

Compulsory

1. Vietnamese language & literature

132

132

132

132


2. Mathematics

132

132

132

231


3. Citizenship education

33

33

33

33


4. History

99

99

99

99


5. Natural sciences

99

99

165

165


6. Technology

66

66

66

66


7. Music

33

33

33

16.5


8. Art

33

33

33

16.5


9. Foreign language

99

99

99

99


10. Physical education

66

66

66

66


TOTAL

792

792

858

858

Optional



Max. 66

Max. 66

Max. 66