Students at a high school in Ho Chi Minh City practice using a multimeter in the school lab
Vietnam has not paid due attention to providing vocational training for school students and this should be addressed immediately without waiting for the planned revision of primary, secondary and high school syllabi, former deputy minister of Education and Training Tran Xuan Nhi tells Vietweek.
It is said that the failure to provide vocational training to high school graduates or dropouts has led to high rates of unskilled workers seeking jobs. What is your opinion?
Tran Xuan Nhi: Schools have not provided proper career guidance to students, giving rise to the wrong conception that students can succeed only when they graduate from universities. We need both university graduates and vocational school graduates.
Skilled workers can earn a lot of money and enjoy good status in society. Schools should help students understand this. In Germany, senior secondary schools classify students into different groups – those suited to enter universities, and those with the aptitude for vocational schools. As they study, students can move from one group to the other. This classification is repeated when they enter high schools.
Our education sector should do something similar. Here, many students do not enter universities, but they also don’t want to study at vocational schools, causing a waste of human resources.
Students who drop out of or after high school should be provided with easy access to short-term vocational training and supplementary education courses.
We should also take note that many students are not able to get jobs after graduating from our vocational training institutions, and that this is one of the reasons they are not interested. For this, we should improve cooperation between vocational schools and factories, so that students can practice there, better meeting their requirements after graduating. If this is done well, students will be more interested in vocational schools.
The departments of Education and Training should build vocational training models suitable to particular localities. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Training should study the orientation of national development and provide relevant and useful career guidance to students.
Why are schools not interested in providing career guidance?
It is not the fault of schools, but the ministry. It should have asked schools to do the work. Officials of the ministry have not paid due attention to the issue. We do provide no career guidance to graduates of senior secondary schools.
Now, we have a system of vocational colleges and vocational training centers. But we have not yet encouraged students to enter them. Not many students want to study there. We should increase investment in these institutions. They should have enough machines and equipment for students to practice. The state should ask factories to receive students of vocational schools for their latter to practice there. I think if it is done, the students will be better qualified and will meet better the needs of employers.
Should we wait for the plan to revise the primary, secondary and high school syllabi after 2015 to change the current vocational education system?
No. This should have been done many years ago. We should do it right now, not wait for the new syllabi. We could start by classifying high school students and having different syllabi for those entering universities and those entering vocational training institutions.
I think some 50 percent of high school students should follow the syllabus designed for those who would enter vocational schools.
In some countries, high schools students study 6-8 subjects. We should emulate them. Students should study 4 compulsory subjects - math, Vietnamese, foreign languages and history. They can then choose other subjects which are suitable to jobs they want to do in the future.
Those students who drop out of senior secondary schools could undergo short-term vocational training and supplementary education courses. All this can be done now, there is no need to wait until after 2015.
Vocational schools are not attractive to students because many companies refuse to employ those applicants who have not graduated high school, even though they have undergone vocational training. What do you think?
This is a shortcoming in our regulations, as it is difficult for those who undergo vocational training to enter universities. Graduates of vocational schools should be given the opportunity to pursue at universities subjects that match their previous studies.
In addition, curricula in vocational schools are impractical and unattractive and they lack proper equipment and machines. This is because we have not invested properly in the schools.
On the other hand, enterprises have complained often that vocational school graduates do not meet their requirements, but they do not do enough to allow students to gain practical experience at their facilities. So there should be improvement on both sides, then the students will gain real benefits and be better motivated.
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