Lower secondary school curriculum development in Vietnam

The increasing complexity of Vietnam’s economic activities, together with a growing number of graduates, is creating substantial social demand for a better-educated workforce beyond the Vietnamese primary school. While primary education provides basic cognitive skills, lower secondary education provides a foundation for producing a flexible, productive and globally competitive workforce to sustain high economic growth. Accordingly, lower secondary school enrollments have increased significantly from 3.1 million students in 1993 to 5.3 million students in 1997 for an average annual enrollment growth rate of about 14 percent (Nguyen Dang Thin, 2000). Enrollment is projected by the Vietnamese government to reach 7.9 million students in 2005. This rapid expansion has resulted in deteriorating quality of lower secondary education, which is aggravated by double and triple scheduling of classes in schools to accommodate such rapid expansion. The poor quality of lower secondary education is caused mainly by unsuitable curriculum and shortages of physical and human resources (including textbooks, instructional materials, and qualified teachers). In 1997, almost 20 percent of lower secondary teachers remained under-qualified. The lack of adequately trained teachers to meet the demand of a modern curriculum and to deliver teaching effectively is a major cause of internal inefficiency in lower secondary education.