Vietnam to scrap national high school exam in bid to transform education system

A plan to comprehensively transform Vietnam’s national education will include the elimination of its annual nationwide high school exam as a prerequisite for graduation

Students at Gia Dinh High School in Ho Chi Minh City cheer on the last day of school before the national high school exam in 2015.

The academic and social performance of high school students will be evaluated by their immediate educators, who will decide whether or not the students are qualified for graduation, according to the draft education program.

The US$80 million program, initiated by the Ministry of Education and Training, seeks to thoroughly transform the country’s national education by introducing a shift in educators’ outlook on pedagogy, the ministry said at the conference announcing the plan’s final draft on Wednesday.

Prof. Nguyen Minh Thuyet, the program’s conductor and overseer, said the changes were in response to expectations from students, parents, and the society.

According to the new program, high school students will no longer be required to take a national exam at the end of their term to graduate.

Instead, they will be evaluated on their overall performance over their high school years.

The assessment of students will be the responsibility of each school, Thuyet said, based on guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education and Training.

“If the way students are tested remains unchanged, it is hard to expect the mindset of teaching and learning to be improved,” Thuyet asserted.

However, Thuyet said, the changes will not be made anytime soon, and “the national high school exam is here to stay until at least 2020”.

Xét tốt nghiệp: ​Sẽ giao cho cấp trường

Professor Nguyen Minh Thuyet at the conference announcing the new national education program, April 12, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In the meantime, Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha has tasked the Department of High School Education and the Agency of Testing and Quality Assurance to orchestrate the shift.

According to Prof. Thuyet, the new education program will focus on developing students’ social and practical skills, which requires an adapted testing method.

“In the future, schools can organize fairs and competitions where students can submit study projects to earn points needed for graduation,” Thuyet explained.

Nationwide quality assurance conducted by a third party will ensure students graduating from different institutions across the country are on the same level, Thuyet added.

The program’s draft is available on the portal of the Ministry of Education and Training, where it will be open to public feedback for 15 days before all comments are aggregated for potential amendments to the plan.

The ultimate draft will then be submitted to Minister Nha for approval before a pilot plan is launched in designated regions across Vietnam.

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