Kindergarten deal for all 5-year-olds
  • | Vietnamnet | August 12, 2010 09:16 PM

Vietnam will strive to standardise kindergarten education for five-year-olds by 2015, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan said on Tuesday.

A teacher conducts a kindergarten class in Can Cau Commune in northern Lao Cai Province.

He added that the education of children younger than five would also not be forgotten.

He was speaking at an online conference held with education managers of 63 provinces and cities nationwide to discuss universal kindergarten provision for five-year-old children.

The project, which was approved earlier this year, is aimed at providing education at kindergarten level for all five-year-olds across the country in order to prepare them for primary school. Given the context of the country’s difficulties in providing adequate facilities and sufficient numbers of teachers, Nhan said provinces and cities, while prioritising the building of more schools and improving education quality, must also consider planning for three- and four-year-olds.

Tran Xuan Nhi, vice chairman of the Vietnam Study Promotion Association, agreed, saying that if the education sector was not able to do that, the target of universal education provision would not be stable in the long-term.

Nhi suggested the development of various kinds of kindergarten groups and classes.

US$736-million project

The country intends to spend more than VND14.6 trillion (US$736 million) on the project, which will cover the construction of new schools, classrooms, study and teaching aids, training for teachers and support for poor students.

Also under the project, 86 kindergarten schools meeting national standards will be built in 62 poor districts, of which 24 are mountainous districts in six provinces bordering the Central Highlands.

Director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Education and Training Huynh Cong Minh said a survey of 723 kindergarten schools in the city had proved that children who are well-prepared for infant school had recorded better academic results.

Education at kindergarten level therefore was considered a very important step to improving the overall quality of the education sector, he said.

At the conference, representatives of provinces and cities affirmed their determination to reach the project targets prior to the 2014 deadline.

Representatives from Vinh Phuc Province said the province would complete the universalisation of kindergarten education for five-year-olds by 2012.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City representatives had also set a goal of finishing the process by 2014.

Many other provinces, however, seemed to face major challenges ahead.

A representative from the mountainous province of Cao Bang said they would struggle to build 1,000 classrooms in the next four years to meet the project’s deadline.

Dak Lak Province will have to build an additional 800 classrooms. The Central Highland province now has 300 villages without kindergarten schools or classes. Only 20 per cent of its kindergarten schools meet national standards.

The lack of teachers is also a concern for many.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Bich, deputy director of Hanoi’s Department of Education and Training, said the capital currently lacked about 3,000 kindergarten teachers.

Deputy Prime Minister Nhan asked provinces to carry out a careful and detailed check on building and teacher requirements so that a real estimate of costs and teacher numbers could be compiled.

The work should be done by the end of August for the Government to approve the spending for 2011 by November this year.

More teachers needed

Ho Chi Minh City needs VND356 billion ($18.7 million) and 1,000 more teachers over the next five years to ensure all five-year-old children go to school, the head of the city Department of Education and Training Huynh Cong Minh said.

Minh said Ho Chi Minh City needed to build and equip 500 new classrooms at a cost of VND250 billion ($13.2 million).

The city also needs to build a national-standard nursery school each in five poor districts at a cost of VND100 billion ($5,263).

To overcome a shortage of pre-school teachers, VND6 billion ($315,789) would be spent to train 1,000 new candidates, Minh said.

The department also planed to waive school fees for five-year-olds in remote areas, he added.

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