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HCM City debates teacher training

Many in the education sector are concerned that the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) has permitted a pilot project allowing Hồng Bàng International University to offer courses in pre-school teaching.

The university will become the first private educational establishment in the country to offer teaching courses, a task traditionally performed by public colleges and universities majoring in education.

Prior to the ministry’s decision, many people were amazed at a proposal by HCM City’s People’s Committee that the education ministry allow some city-based colleges, such as the College of Construction No 2 and Phuong Nam Vocational College, to offer teaching courses, in co-operation with HCM City Pedagogical University.

These moves come at a sensitive time. Many public schools majoring in education have been asked by the ministry to consider cutting the number of new enrolments as oversupply has resulted in an increasing number of unemployed trainee teachers.

On the other hand, low employment has dramatically reduced the number of high school students pursuing teaching undergraduate courses at less-well known or provincial teaching colleges and universities. At the national university entrance exam this year, some teacher training institutions had to set their entrance scores at unexpectedly low levels to get enough student enrolments.

A former leader of a HCM City-based university told Thanh Nien (Youth) newspaper that in the past few years, the ministry had promulgated several documents asking public teaching schools to consider cutting enrolments by 20 per cent each year.

He wondered why the ministry allowed a private university that did not have experience in teaching courses offer such courses.

The inexperience of schools seeking to open teaching courses also raised a question of quality, said Doctor Hoang Ngoc Vinh, former head of MoET’s Deparment of Professional Education.

Teachers, especially pre-school ones, not only need good knowledge, professional skills, but also love for children and other qualities, Vinh said.

An official at a university in HCM City said he worried that the shockingly low requirements for future teachers that had been seen in the university entrance exam this year would risk being repeated if the ministry opened the door for more private and inexperienced institutions to jump into the sector.

Until now, the ministry has not given a ruling on HCM City authority’s proposal to allow such as Construction No 2 or Phương Nam to offer teaching courses.

When asked about Hong Bang University’s case, deputy minister of education and training Bui Van Ga said the decision was based on the city’s proposal on training pre-school teachers to meet local demand.

In fact, although the rate of unemployed trainee teachers in general is high, HCM City is suffering a shortage of pre-school teachers working for kindergarten and nursery schools.

According to the city’s official statistics, the city lacks more than 11,000 teachers at this level, 7,600 of whom are for public schools. Every year, the city is in need of 2,000 new pre-school teachers but it can only hire about 1,500.

Ga said the project was only a pilot, adding that the university was only allowed to train two batches of students in two continuous school years during the first phase. After the pilot period, the school had to report the results to the ministry. The courses would only be continued if the quality was assured and HCM City still had a demand.

Associate Professor Thai Ba Can, rector of Hong Bang Univerity, said the wish to offer teaching courses originated from real demands by the educational system of Nguyễn Hoàng Corporation, owner of the university.

He said the company was planning for an expansion in the pre-school system and would need about 1,500 to 2,000 pre-school teachers in the next three years. He added that those enrolled in the courses would be guaranteed a teaching job in the company’s education system when they graduated. — VNS

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