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Teacher and funding shortages halt English learning programme PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 28 April 2011 02:01

Teacher and funding shortages halt English learning programme

Teacher and pupils study together at an English class in An Binh Primary School, Thuan Thanh District in the northern province of Bac Ninh. The Education and Training Ministry wants at least 20 per cent primary pupils to be taught English in the 2010-11 academic year.

The programme was designed to give pupils an early grounding in the language. The Ministry of Education and Training wanted at least 20 per cent of primary school pupils to be taught English in the 2010-11 academic year.

Under the programme, English will be a compulsory subject for third-grade to the fifth-grade students who will have four lessons per week.

However, a shortage of teachers has forced the ministry to withdraw the plan.

Le Tien Thanh, director of the Ministry of Education and Training's Primary Education Department, said the programme had been successfully implemented in a few schools.

The programme was launched in 2003. However, the results have been disappointing.

Hoang Thi Dieu, principal of Bac Phu Primary School in Hanoi's Soc Son District, said students were only taught English twice a week.

She said the school had only two qualified English teachers and that it did not have the funds required to buy tapes, projectors and equipment to properly teach the subject.

An official at Soc Son Education and Training Bureau said some primary schools had already piloted teaching English but teacher shortages had meant they'd had to abandon the project.

The Vietnam Education Science Institute said there were more than 4,000 teachers teaching English in primary schools across the country.

Institute deputy director Nguyen Loc said there were sufficient teachers to conduct a pilot programme in the country.

But Loc said about 2,000 more teachers needed to be trained each year. Only by so doing would primary schools be able to meet the ministry's requirements, he said.

Thanh said teacher quality was a major concern.

"It depends on the actual capability of the teaching staff whose English language proficiency must meet international standards," said Thanh. "University degrees are meaningless by themselves."

About 15 cities and provinces will be selected to pilot the English teaching programme in the 2010-11 school year. In each area, between five and ten primary schools will take part in the scheme.

Loc said students from these schools would start learning English four times a week. The number of students taking part in the programme would increase in years to come, until the programme matures in 2020, he said.

Ho Chi Minh City pioneered the programme in primary schools.

Le Ngoc Diep, head of the city's Education and Training Department, said the programme was implemented 12 years ago and that more than 47,000 primary school students had been taught English compulsorily.

He said the department would teach English to first-grade students from the second semester of this school year. Students of remaining grades had already studied English from the beginning of this school year, Diep said.

Under the programme, students must be able to listen to, identify, speak and write simple English words and phrases. They are also expected to answer simple questions about themselves and other people.

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