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Vietnamese parents panicky about nation’s poor schools
Intel, the world’s largest computer chipmaker, has struggled to recruit skilled workers for its manufacturing facility in Ho Chi Minh City, researchers from Harvard University’s Kennedy School have said.
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has said Vietnam’s “human resource infrastructure” does not support its rising education demands, and the Harvard researchers say reform in the country’s higher education system has been “glacial” since it embarked on economic reforms and liberalization in the mid-1980s.
Although Vietnam invests more in education as a percentage of gross domestic product than many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the researchers say, the problem is less about lack of investment than a failure of governance.
Corruption in the classes
“The government is keenly aware that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of the education system, among economic and political elites as well as at the popular level,” said Ben Wilkinson, co-author of a critical 2008 report and associate director of the Kennedy School’s Vietnam Program in Ho Chi Minh City.
He added that it’s too early to tell what effect the migration of students to overseas universities will have on the country’s future.
Another problem is that parents bribing teachers for high marks and degrees has become commonplace. In a 2010 report, Berlin-based Transparency International concluded that education was perceived as the country’s second-most corrupt sector after law enforcement.
State media regularly report on education-linked scandals, including a recent case at a private high school in northern Bac Giang province where a proctor handed out cheat sheets during a national high school graduation exam. After a student filmed the incident with a hidden camera, six teachers and staff were dismissed.
Earlier this month, Vietnam’s National Assembly passed a law designed to give more autonomy to the country’s universities, but education reformers remain skeptical.
“Many universities are just interested in recruiting as many students as possible,” National Assembly Deputy Dang Thi My Huong told state-controlled media in May. “Where graduates go and whether they can get a job is their business.”
The Foreign Ministry did not respond to written questions submitted by the Associated Press.
Middle-class Vietnamese now are wondering how to help their children shine in spite of a broken school system. One strategy is to sign them up for night classes often run by public school teachers who earn around $250 a month.
Unlike high-ranking Vietnamese officials, most families simply can’t afford private schools and overseas colleges.
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