Vietnam ministry delays educational reform plan after criticisms

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Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan has delayed a plan to reform Vietnam's K-12 educational system over the next 10 years, following widespread criticism. FILE PHOTO
The Ministry of Education and Training will not submit its controversial 10-year project to reform Vietnam’s K-12 educational system to the legislature for approval next month as originally planned.
During a meeting Friday of the National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Education, Youth, and Children, Minister Pham Vu Luan said his agency needs more time to finalize its plans and establish cost estimates, news website VietNamNet reported.
A revised plan will be submitted to the National Assembly once it is reviewed and approved by the government, he said.
Last week at a meeting with the legislature’s Standing Committee, Luan’s deputy, Nguyen Vinh Hien, said the project would cost at least VND34.27 trillion (US$1.6 billion) and would focus mainly on revising K-12 textbooks and academic programs.
The cost raised hackles from lawmakers and criticism from educators who said the sketchy plan didn't justify such an enormous investment.
Luan backpedaled during an interview with Vietnam Television Sunday, saying that the cost estimate was compiled from studies compiled by different groups of experts, and that Hien had quoted it by mistake.
He said he and the rest of the ministry leadership had yet to discuss or calculate the project’s cost and therefore had not included any projection in the written proposals they submitted to the government and the Standing Committee.
Luan’s response continued to be criticized by several experts who said the ministry should have included cost estimates in its proposal, because cost is a major determining factor in the legislative process.
In the most explicit gesture to shore up an education system that has been dogged by crisis at all levels, Vietnam's top leadership last November passed a resolution on an across-the-board overhaul of the sector.
Experts say Vietnam's education system is rigid, of dubious quality and has been riddled by scandals in recent years. Meanwhile, teaching methods remain too passive with students having little chance to interact with teachers, participate in discussions, or ask questions.

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