Poor quality teaching stifles vocational training programmes
Feb. 19th, 2010
Training quality remains a serious obstacle to meeting domestic skills shortages. Over the last 10 years the number of teachers at vocational training schools has risen faster than training quality, according to Cao Van Sam from the Ministry of Education and Training.
Out of 15,000 teachers currently working in the schools, only 220 hold a PhD degree and 2,400 Masters degrees, according to recent statistics from the department. This represents an improvement on 2001, when out of 10,000 active teachers, only 34 and 549 held PhDs and Masters degrees, respectively.
In Ha Noi, most vocational teachers have a university degree or higher education qualification. But according to Pham Thi Hong Nga, deputy director of the Ha Noi Department of Education and Training, teaching in vocational schools is overly theoretical and not suited to students’ needs and career aspirations.
Further, most teachers are not capable of using English, limiting their ability to conduct self-directed research and explore a wider range of educational materials.
"Recently, the department sent many groups of teachers abroad for training, but only a few teachers who spoke English could take advantage of the opportunity," said Nga.
She added that a ‘brain drain’ was present in the vocational training industry as skilled vocational teachers moved on to teach in universities or work in other companies for better pay, destabilising the supply of desperately needed teachers.
According to Nguyen Xuan Bao, an experienced researcher from the Viet Nam Institute for Education Studies, the training curriculum at vocational schools is also problematic.
"Most of the universities [where the teachers study] are using a framework that allocates 40 per cent of study time to general subjects and 60 per cent to subjects of student’s majors. Of that 60 per cent, only 27 per cent of the time is spent on subjects directly related to students’ careers," he said.
Some particularly problematic schools devoted only 1 per cent of course time to practice classes for teachers and 15 per cent to subjects that contributed to student’s majors.
The Ministry of Education and Training says it’s scaling up efforts to develop a suitable curriculum for vocational teacher training. In the last two months of 2009, eight international conferences were held with a view to adopting a suitable model for vocational teacher training.
International experts were present at these conferences and contributed their experience to the debate. Professor Cary Trexler from the United States said: "In North America, teacher training programmes usually take four to five years. Students who want to teach in high schools will receive training in teaching pedagogy and subject content at the same time."
Professor Nguyen Van Cuong from University of Posdamin in Germany said that in the past, dedicated teacher training schools existed in Germany. But after 2000, a model similar to that of the US was applied, whereby vocational teachers are trained in their subject major first followed by teaching methodology.
According to Vu Quoc Chung, director of the Teacher Training Project, researchers in Viet Nam have exchanged experience with experts from different countries and adapted those models to suit Viet Nam.
Experts present at the conferences agreed that the model whereby students learn specific subjects first and are then trained in pedagogy was more practical. About 80 per cent of current vocational teachers are now trained that way.