Nearly 22 million students in Vietnam officially started the new school year on Sunday with the country continuing to take measures to improve its education system.
The students, including 19.6 million from elementary to high school level and 2.2 million college students, returned to school in mid-August after a 10-week summer break.
Ceremonies to kick off the new academic year of 2010-2011 were held nationwide over the past three days.
High-ranking officials including Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, President Nguyen Minh Triet, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan visited a few schools around the countries to attend their opening day ceremonies.
Speaking to students at the Thang Long Secondary School in Hanoi on Saturday, Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh said he hoped the students would study hard and enjoy a well-rounded education that also includes arts and social activities.
Vietnam has named the new academic year as "the year to continue reforming management and improving quality of education." The country plans to build more schools and equip them with better facilities.
A new program to make foreign language teaching compulsory for all third graders by 2020 has also been launched. This year, one hundred primary schools in Vietnam will be selected to implement the scheme on a trial basis. Foreign language is still an optional subject in other primary schools.
The program aims to provide better foreign language education for all Vietnamese students starting at age 8 to ensure they can "use the language confidently" after college graduation.