School dropout rate on the increase in Vietnam

 
 
Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen An Ninh High School had 30 students drop out in the first term of this school year  

About 114,000 students in Vietnam dropped out of school from September to December last year, and the disturbing trend shows no sign of abating, the Ministry of Education and Training has revealed.

In some provinces many students quit school simultaneously.

Over 6,000 students dropped out in the central highlands province of Gia Lai in the first term of the academic year 2007 –2008 and more than 2,000 students left school in Lam Dong, another central highlands province.

In the south, more than 1,400 students left the education system in Binh Phuoc Province while 3,300 quit in Dong Nai.

Ho Chi Minh City also experienced a sharp increase of dropouts, on top of the usual high numbers.

Various reasons

Most HCMC school principals say young people leave school for a variety of reasons.

Some have economically disadvantaged families or divorced or neglectful parents.

The learning capacity of others is poor, so they fall behind their classmates.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Ministry Nguyen Vinh Hien

STATISTICS
SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2007:

63,729 dropouts or 1.1 percent of nationwide middle school students (Year 6-9).
50,306 dropouts or 1.7 percent of nationwide high school students (Year 10-12).
The southern province of Tra Vinh has the highest number of middle school dropouts with 5,450 students.
The southern province of An Giang has the highest number of high school dropouts with 8,600 students.

Others don’t like studying, cut class and fall behind.

“Most of them quit school because their families are needy. We have already opened extra-classes for poor students, so the number of students leaving schools due to their poor learning capacity is not large,” the principal of HCMC’s Nguyen An Ninh High School, Le Minh Duc said.

Thirty of his students dropped out in the first term of this academic year.

In disadvantaged areas like An Giang, most of the students who drop out have parents who are not fully aware of the importance of studying and want them to stay home to earn money to support their families.

A local educational official said this year students quit mainly because of bad results in the first term.

Nearly 50 percent of Binh Phuoc’s dropouts and over 50 percent in Gia Lai left because of poor first term results.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien, said the ministry’s overarching campaign had caused a great number of the dropouts.

He said the assessment of their results had become stricter and more objective.

Part of the campaign against “achievement focus” was aimed at better learning rather than just achieving good examination results.

Another part, “Say no to students in wrong grades,” involved a raft of measures including extra tutoring to bypass the need for students to repeat years.

“This has discouraged students with bad results who would normally repeat a grade,” Hien added.

Several solutions

Hien said they had directed local educational departments to cooperate with local administrations to check each student’s circumstances, including his or her family’s finances and learning capacity.

He also suggested supportive policies like tuition remission for students from needy families and ways to convince parents to encourage their children to return to school.

Local schools needed to upgrade their facilities and supply more government funded tutoring to needy students during summer holidays and weekends, he said.

According to Hien, the ministry would also custom fit primary, secondary and high school durations to suit different provinces and areas.

In ethnic minorities for instance, the primary level could be lengthened to six years instead of five, because first grade students still don’t know how to speak fluent Vietnamese.

The ministry has also given primary and high school authorities the right to design their own curriculum suitable for their students.

Also the “Open academic year” policy, allows different areas to set holidays in accordance with local weather conditions, but no localities lengthened their academic year to after June 30, he added.

This is part of the ministry’s efforts to ease study programs for disadvantaged areas.

Hien said, however, “schools are not allowed to accept students’ bad results.”

While the new campaign was supposed to be the main reason for this year’s soaring number of dropouts, the educational authorities in many areas were confused about implementing the “Say No to Students in Wrong Grades” policy, the local Saigon Giai Phong newspaper reported.

“They are trying to convince students to resume studying, but this is a critical problem which needs to be directed by the ministry in a more positive and effective way,” the paper reported.

According to educational experts, the campaign fails to address current problems like the shortage of teachers.

The campaign asked teachers to be more active and invest more in teaching, but they were already in charge of too much work, the head of the central province of Ha Tinh Department of Education and Training, Le Duc Tuy, said.

The head of the southern Tay Ninh Province’s the Department of  Education and Training, Vu Hien Phuong, said the campaign had no solutions for students who received tutoring but still failed.

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