Hike tuition fees and enhance education quality, legislators say

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Many deputies of the National Assembly Wednesday agreed with the government's proposal to increase tuition fees, but asked that the quality of education be improved.

While discussing a draft plan to renovate financial mechanisms in the education sector, Do Duy Hao said tuition fees at schools are not as high as those for extra classes, so it could be raised to even higher rates than proposed in order to provide very high quality education.

Dao Trong Thi proposed that the government raises the fees gradually each year, so that the fees for public kindergartens, secondary and high schools reach 5 percent of the average family's total income by 2014.

Without calculating other studying expenses, the 5 percent level is not lower than the government's proposal, he said.

It would be difficult to improve the quality of education if the current tuition fees remained unchanged, said Nguyen Ngoc Dao.

The current university fees remain at VND180,000 (US$10) per month, equal to the price of 0.10 tael of gold 10 years ago. Now, 0.10 tael of gold is priced at over VND2.1 million ($116.60), but the fee has not changed. It is irrational, Dao said.

Nguyen Thi Thu Cuc noted that over 20 percent of the state budget is set aside for the education sector, 80 percent of which is used to pay salaries for teachers, and the rest to buy teaching materials, equipment, and upgrade infrastructure.

Thus, the state investment is not enough to fund extra activities for students, he said.

Investment in the education sector should be increased, especially in the fields of science research, and human resource development, and so should teachers' salaries and allowance, felt Tran Thi Quoc Khanh.

Teachers' salaries are still low at only VND2.5 million ($138.90) for a university teacher per month, and VND$1.6 million ($88.90) for a kindergarten teacher, she said.

According to the government's proposal, monthly tuition fees in the next academic year would rise to VND255,000 ($14.35) from the current VND180,000 ($10) for university students; and to VND170,000 ($9.40) from VND120,000 ($6.70) at vocational schools.

The proposal states that university tuition fees will rise each year to reach VND550,000-800,000 ($27.80-44.40) per month by 2014, depending on the discipline.

The government has also proposed new tuition fees for public kindergartens, secondary and high schools under which the fees, together with other studying expenses, must not exceed 6 percent of the average family's total income.

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