A number of parents in Ho Chi Minh City have been disillusioned to find their first-grade children incapable of following an integrated program combining the curricula of the UK and Vietnam, which they had hoped would give the students a great future advantage.
First graders in this course have to study the mandatory Vietnamese curriculum imposed nationwide by the Vietnamese education ministry with domestic teachers.
They also have to take extra classes to learn math, science and English, whose lesson plans are developed with mixed elements of the Vietnamese and UK educational programs, with native speakers.
The ‘integrated program’ has been put in place at 47 elementary schools, 26 middle schools and 16 high schools across the southern metropolis since 2015.
But after the first semester of grade 1 ended, many parents decided to transfer their children to standard classes, where only the Vietnamese curriculum is taught, as they recognized the kids had had an unpleasant school experience.
One of the parents, D.Q.T., said he sent his son to a school in District 9 that offers the integrated program mainly because this would obviate the need for the kid to learn in extra tutoring classes after school – which are very common in Vietnam.
But the child gradually looked quite tired after stepping out of the class whenever he came to pick him up, the father recalled.
“He said he had no appetite and didn’t want to study anymore,” the man continued.
“I realized that his ability wasn’t up to the program. He suffered tiredness during the semester.”
A similar situation went for the child of a woman known as P.T.T.S., who wanted her kid to have an opportunity to study abroad in the future after following the program.
“The program was said to use advanced subjects taught in English, introduce systematic knowledge and hone learners’ skills,” she said.
“As many of my friends had let their children study in the program and they were successful, I believed this would also happen to my kid.”
Nguyen Kim Dung, deputy director of the Education Research Institute at the Ho Chi Minh University of Pedagogy, underlined that not all first graders fit in well with the integrated course’s math, science and English.
Dung advised parents to consider whether their children can follow the program in the long run before enrolling them in the course.
An official at a local education department said several people would simply put their kids in an integrated program class without considering their ability.
“Taking failing students out of the program means depriving them of an environment for their success at the beginning of elementary school,” he underscored.
Ngo Xuan Diep, head of the psychology faculty at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, believes a pleasant school experience is extremely important to children.
“Those parents who persistently chose an advanced class for their children deliberately bent the kids’ development trajectory to their own will,” Diep said.
“That would demotivate the children, make them afraid of school and worse, leave a lasting adverse impact on their well-being.”