Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan blamed high unemployment among college graduates on loose management of schools and outdated curricula.
Of the two million Vietnamese who graduated from college and university during the past five years, 72,000 remain jobless, he said during a National Assembly Q&A session on Wednesday.
The minister noted that, during Vietnam's "subsidy years" the labor supply always matched demand. Increasingly, he said, the difference between the labor supply and demand is determined by the market.
“However, the ministry, and universities and colleges take primary responsibility for this situation,” he said.
The ministry has focused for a long time on schools size without paying due attention to the quality of education. Curriculums have not yet kept pace with domestic and international development, he said. They have also failed to provide adequate soft skills training, particularly in terms of helping local students socialize and work in teams.
The shortcomings have resulted in an increasing number of university graduates whose education falls far below the demands of modern society, Luan said.
To deal with the issue, the ministry will limit the opening of new universities and colleges. Existing universities, which fail to meet quality standards will be asked to suspend operations, he said.
The ministry will also ask schools to temporarily cease enrollment for students majoring in business administration, finance, and banking, as the sectors face an abundance of graduates in these sectors, he said.
Luan also underscored a plan to cut its target of 450 students for every 10,000 residents to over 200 students for every 10,000 residents by 2020.
The ministry will also renew education and training curriculums, and strengthen international cooperation to improve the quality of its student, Luan said.
Minister Luan said methods for teaching and studying foreign languages in Vietnam don't comply with international norms. Schools focused too much on grammar, without paying attention to speaking and listening.
Local foreign language teachers also lack listening and speaking skills. The ministry will improve the quality of its teachers and renew teaching and study methods for foreign languages. He also pledged to make foreign languages a compulsory subject on high school final exams, he said while answering a question posed by Assemblyman Nguyen Thi Bich Nhiem about the issue.
Luan said the ministry will continue to update its exams to ensure that they contain more questions that demand critical thinking skills rather than rote memorization.
The ministry also plans to organize a single national exam that will serve as the basis for assessing high school graduates and placing them in universities. At present, students take one exam to graduate high school and another to enter university.
Faced with questions about planned upgrades to its curriculum and textbooks over the next 10 years (at a reported cost of VND34 trillion--over US$1.6 billion), Minister Luan said the plan submitted to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee did not mention its cost, or the figure.
A ministry representative incorrectly reported the cost projection, causing a misunderstanding, he said.
“It was a technical mistake,” he said, before taking responsibility for it.
The minister recently said the figure was compiled from different studies by different groups of experts.
The rough figure included teacher training and new infrastructure costs, he said, in addition to the cost of writing new textbooks and academic programs which remain the project's focus.