LookAtVietnam – Tuition fees will rise in the next academic year under a new proposal on education reform submitted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of education and Training Nguyen Thien Nhan to the National Assembly on Saturday.
All levels of education, apart from primary education, would be affected by the changes, which “aim to use financial contributions from the State and society to improve the quality and scale of education and training”.
Instead of a set rate for all households, family incomes will now be tested to determine how much the school will charge for tuition.
Nhan said Viet Nam’s economy had been market-oriented for 20 years but the financial policy in education remained almost unchanged over that time.
“Current school fees are the same as they were 11 years ago. This did not match inflation,” he said.
The proposal also includes policies to support poor students. Children living in impoverished areas would be exempt from fees and would receive grants to help them buy learning materials.
The Deputy PM suggested families pay no more than 6 per cent of their income, but the idea was slammed by the NA Culture, Education, Youth and Children Committee, who said it was too high. The committee set the rate at 5 per cent.
The committee said if students had to pay higher fees, they should have a quality guarantee from education institutions. It also asked the Ministry of Education and Training to publish the criteria that to be used to assess quality in schools.
According to the committee, calculation of a households’ average income was complicated and required a lot of work from financial sectors and local authorities to ensure standard levels across the country.
Measures would have to be put in place to prevent schools with lower fees from being overloaded with students, the committee said.
For the academic year 2009-10, the committee agreed to increase fees for tertiary education from VND180,000 (US$10) to VND230,000 ($13) per month and from VND120,000 ($6.7) to VND155,000 ($8.6) per month for vocational training. Tuition fees for high school and kindergartens have yet to be approved.
The fee will be adjusted every year.
Lawmakers on Saturday also discussed a proposal to set up a municipal council on architecture and planning, including the post of chief architect, as part of the new draft law on urban planning.
In its appraisal report on the bill, the NA Economic Committee said the new body would function as a consultant to municipal and provincial people’s committees.
Committee Chairman Ha Van Hien said chief architect and head of the council should be one person. Setting up the council would be optional.
HCM City deputy Nguyen Dang Trung said the council should be an organisation assisting the chief architect.
Trung and Pham Phuong Thao, also from HCM City, and Sung Thi Chu from Yen Bai Province highlighted the importance of the chief architect in preserving a city’s identity.
“Da Lat was once a very special city – a temperate city in a tropical country, but today it’s like other cities,” Trung said.
Thao also asked the drafting board to give details on the chief architect’s functions, power, responsibility and relationship with authorities.
“Ha Noi and HCM City did have chief architects but they did not work well,” the deputy explained.
Currently, municipal and provincial architecture and planning departments are also advisors to local authorities in planning. Gia Lai province deputy Nguyen Thi Thu Ha asked which one was more important – chief architect, the council or the department.
Ha Noi deputy Nguyen Thi Hong Ha said the department should be scrapped. The other two would be established or dissolved according to the Prime Minister’s instruction.
Regarding the classification of urban areas, HCM City deputy Thao said population density would push some city authorities to seek more areas for recognition as first- or second-class urban areas.
“Criteria for urban classification should also embrace cultural, historical and environment values,” she said.
HCM City deputy Trung insisted that population and the ratio of non-agricultural people versus agricultural people were important and applied worldwide.
The lawmaker also called for planners to look to the future in terms of centuries, not just the next few decades, and planning should not be influenced by the working terms of authorities.
He and other deputies also suggested forcing planners to publicise their work so the public could have some say in it.
Tien Giang province deputy Nguyen Van Tien criticised the draft law, and said the draft should include specific regulations for each type of urban area.
From Soc Trang Province, deputy Nguyen Duc Kien suggested adding an article on underground space management, particularly as Ha Noi and HCM City were to build metros.
Also on Saturday, lawmakers discussed a draft law on medical checkups and treatment.
The NA Social Affairs Committee suggested changing the name to “medical practisioning law” because the law regulated rights and responsibilities of patients, practioners, hospitals and healthcare centres.
Once enacted, the law would create a competitive environment for State-owned and private healthcare centres.
The committee agreed to grant medical credentials to healthcare workers in both public and private areas to ensure they have professional capacity and ethics. Procedures for those with many years of experiences would be simple.
However, the committee said the draft and relating laws had not embodied all the Party and State’s policies on health care.
NA deputies spared part of Saturday session to listen to draft laws on the elderly and cryptography.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News