Objections prompt ministry to halt changes in high school exam

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Education ministry on Monday canceled its plan to release foreign languages from compulsory subjects of the annual high school graduation examination in response to the objections of educators and officials.

Under the Ministry of Education and Training’s latest decision, foreign language together with literature and mathematics remained compulsory subjects for the graduation examination usually held in June.

However, students who don’t attend enough foreign language periods under the ministry-regulated academic programs due to local difficulties in facilities and teachers will be allowed to sit exam of another subject as replacement.

According to the ministry’s plan announced at a videoconference on Saturday, from this year foreign languages, mainly English, will become one of six subjects from which the ministry chooses four for the examination. The selected subjects would be announced in March every year.

“The ministry planned this change because foreign language isn’t a basic subject like mathematics and literature but just an additional subject,” deputy minister Nguyen Vinh Hien said at the meeting with representatives from 450 universities, colleges, vocational schools, and education departments.

Hien said they had set foreign language as a compulsory subject for many years to make all schools introduce it to their academic programs.

However, as many schools still had difficulties in providing proper foreign language teaching, the quality was yet to be guaranteed, the official said.

Without being given adequate training, students would object if they were forced to sit foreign language’s exam, he stressed.

“So, foreign language shouldn’t be a compulsory subject.”

Yet, most of the meeting participants didn’t agree with Hien’s arguments.

Huynh Van Hoa, director of Da Nang’s education department, said foreign language had been made compulsory for over 20 years, having good influences on schools’ teaching of the subject.

Not to mention that, the change would be against the ministry’s project to boost English teaching by 2020 which had been approved by Prime Minister, Hoa said.

Phan Thi Thu Ha, vice director of Dong Thap’s education department, meanwhile, said foreign language played an important role in training human resources for the country.

“If students were taught the subject without being required to sit exams, [they and their teachers] wouldn’t have motivation for learning and teaching it,” Ha said, adding that the quality of students’ foreign language studying would worse once the change was applied.

Agreeing with Ha, Nguyen Ngoc Hoi, president of Vinh University in the central province of Nghe An, said currently while English was a compulsory subject for the high school graduation examination, not many students had decent skills.

Hoi cited that only 30 percent of students admitted to his university annually could pass the school’s input test for English.

In response to many objections to the plan, Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan said they would give more considerations to it.

Source: TN, Agencies

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