Southeast Asian Perspectives
for the 21st Century
Higher Education in Viet Nam
Vision of Philippine Elementary Education
Cultural Administration & Management
Rewriting Art History
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization
Dedicated to the cause of regional cooperation for strategic planning in education, science and culture for the development of Southeast Asia
Compiled and published by the
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat
4th Floor, Darakarn Building
920 Sukhumvit Road
Southeast Asias Ministers of Education
The purpose of the organization is
to promote cooperation among the
Southeast Asian nations through
education, science and culture in
order to further respect for justice,
for the rule of law and the human
rights and fundamental freedoms
which are the bir thrights of the
people of the world.
To realize this purpose the organization will collaborate in the
work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of
the people in Southeast Asia as well as the rest of the world:
promote and collaborate with Member States at their request in
joint projects and programmes of mutual benefit concerning
education, science and culture and assist members in the
development of education activities; maintain, increase and diffuse
knowledge; and assist in articulating education to the economic
and social goals of the individual Member States.
table of contents
Training in p.14
Agriculture in the
The Director of SEAMEO
SEARCA discusses the
future teaching and
learning of agriculture
Status, Trends and
An overview of the Vietnamese
higher education system with
an emphasis on future
Vision and Challenges of the Philippi
Elementary School for the Next Mille
A tale of how schools will
operate in the future
in Southeast Asia
An overview of the
various practices in
A Reconsideration of Premises for Writing Histories of
Art of the Twentieth Century in Southeast Asia
This issue of SEAMEO forum focuses on three subject areas, elementary
and higher education reforms and arts management and art history.
Educational reform is sweeping through Southeast Asia and although
there are many similarities, there are also many differences in opinion on the
direction for the reforms. In this issue we are highlighting Viet Nams education
Dang Ba Lam of the National Institute for Education Development
discusses the history, current issue and reforms of the Vietnamese higher
education system and proposes a policy for its future development in a paper
presented at the Fifth SEAMEO RIHED governing Board Meeting in Ho Chi Minh
Sustainable agriculture and necessary shifts in agriculture curricula
are the focus of a paper delivered by Dr. Percy E. Sajise, Director, SEAMEO
SEARCA at a conference on higher education and training in the 21st century
during the 30th anniversary of Cantho University in Viet Nam.
In a paper delivered at the national conference of the National Association
of Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs of Elementary Education, Dr. Minda Sutaria
identifies two major problems that must be resolved in the next millenium,
achievement and drop-out rates and her vision on how they will be improved.
A study on Arts Management and Cultural Administration in Southeast
nium p.19 Asia by Elmar Beltran Ingles of SEAMEO SPAFA presents us with a summary of
existing government cultural policies and infrastructures in Southeast Asian
countries and how these policies affect cultural programmes and activities in
In his keynote address at the SEAMEO SPAFA Symposium on History of
Performing Arts in Southeast Asia, T.K. Sabapathy discusses his thoughts on
writing 20th Century Southeast Asian art history.
Through these articles, the SEAMEO Forum hopes to maintain a venue
not only for discussion and debate, but for possible linkages and collaboration
This will be the last issue of the SEAMEO Forum. Scholarly and policy
papers and researches will be made available online in the SEAMEO Digital
Library at: www.seameo.org/library
The SEAMEO Forum is published by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization
Secretariat at 920 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110, THAILAND. Tel. (66 2) 3910144.
Fax (66 2) 3812587. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors: Wilfredo O. Pascual, Jr.
Advisors: Dr. Suparak Racha-Intra
Dr. Kantatip Sinhaneti
Higher education in Viet Nam began with the building
of Quoc Tu Giam in 1076-the first Royal College in
Viet Nam-at the time of King Ly. The Vietnamese
feudal education system was greatly influenced by Chinese
feudal education for ten centuries.
The Vietnamese feudal education system included
public and private schools, with private schools contributing
much to the dissemination of knowledge. There were three
course areas: Buddhist studies, military studies, and
Confucianism and literature.
The number of students learning Confucianism and
Development literature was largest. The learning materials were the classical
texts on Confucianism. The learning methods were mainly
scholastic and dogmatic, with the materials and exercises in
in Viet Nam
Chinese. Vietnamese could be used for lectures. A
consequence of this teaching-learning method was that the
students often did not formulate an independent approach to
In 1919, the Imperial Court, on orders from the
French, announced the abolition of Vietnamese feudal
education. The French style of education was then introduced
more fully. A number of universities and colleges were
established in Indochina to train colonial administrators and
professionals. By 1945, all such institutions had been located
Between 1900 and 1924, the institutions called
universities of colleges in Hanoi were in fact often specialized
Dr Dang Ba Lam
professional schools, sometimes only at a secondary level.
In the 1924-25 academic year, France implemented
educational reform that changed the status of such
establishments into real colleges. This included increasing
enrollment requirements, lengthening the duration of courses,
and making curriculum improvements. Between 1939 and
1945, France established the Indochinese University, based
on various colleges of Hanoi. At that time, the status of all
colleges in Indochina was considered to be that of modern
Presented at the
higher education. However, the colleges were small. The
Fifth SEAMEO RIHED
maximum number of students in the Indochinese University
was 1,000 of which the School of Medicine and Pharmacy
Governing Board Meeting
had the largest number with 300 to 350 students.
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Following the August 1945 Revolution, the
21 to 22 August 1997
Democratic Republic of Viet Nam carried out educational
reform on the basis of nationalization, scientific principles,
and popularization. Two immediate tasks were identified: to
substitute Vietnamese teachers for the French teachers and
to encourage and expand the use of Vietnamese as the
medium of instruction in higher education.
In 1946, when France launched war on the
Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, the colleges were
evacuated from Hanoi into the rural areas and the mountains.
From 1951 to 1954, the College of Science, a Teacher Training
General education starting at age 6 and consisting of three
College, and tertiary level preparatory courses were
cycles: 5-year primary (grades 1-5); 4-year lower
secondary (grades 6-9); and 3-year upper secondary
The curriculum was designed according to the needs
of a state at war. Training courses focused mainly on medicine,
Vocational education consisting of two types: vocational
agriculture, weapons, and diplomacy. Instructional methods
schools which are designed to train skilled workers; and
combined practice with theory in the active war setting. The
secondary vocational schools which are designed to train
Dien Bien Phu military defeat of the French then brought
technicians with an intermediate level of techniques.
peace in 1954, but Viet Nam was divided into two zones.
Higher education consisting of three levels: undergraduate,
From 1956 to 1975, a higher education system was
masters, and doctoral degrees.
built up in North Viet Nam, including universities, polytechnic
colleges, and various other specialized colleges. In 1975, in
In comparing the past with the present, todays
North Viet Nam, there were 30 higher education institutions
undergraduate programmes provide wider profiles of
with 8,400 teachers and 56,000 students. In South Viet Nam,
specialization with reduced time ( generally four years) ; master
there were seven public universities and seven private
degree has been newly established and one doctor degree
universities and colleges, with 166,000 students. Reunification
replaced ascociate and full doctors. The goals of these
of the North and South in 1975 saw the establishment of
changes are to assist graduates to be adaptable to the learning
one socialist higher education system in the country. All
process as well as labour market needs.
universities and colleges were
reorganized into the public sector
The Management System of
while private colleges were
A system of laws,
In Viet Nam, responsibility for
the higher education system lies
Influenced by the
with the following bodies and
example of the Soviet Union and
regulations has been groups. The Ministry of Education
other socialist countries, Viet Nam
developed over the
and Training is responsible for
established polytechnic institutes
policy making, guidance, and
past few years to
teaching industrial, construction,
supervision in connection with all
and transportation courses.
consolidate the legal the education programmes and the
Universities were developed
administration of the higher
basis for the
according to the same socialist
education institutions. Some
example, concentrating on
provinces administer junior
fundamental natural and social
colleges to meet particular needs.
Funding of the higher education
Before the restructuring
system is the responsibility of the
of the higher education system (1993) the country had 102
central and provincial levels of government, although the
universities, colleges/junior colleges, and institutes. These were
central government provides most of the funds for salaries,
sometimes multidisciplinary, but more often were specialized.
scholarships, and other expenditures (e.g., maintenance and
The figures were as follows: multidisciplinary (9); industrial
repair of buildings, furniture and equipment, teaching
engineering (13); agro-forestry-fishery (6); economics (6);
materials, and books). In 1996, thirty-one higher education
medical and sports (8); art colleges (7); teacher training
institutions were responsible to the Ministry of Education
institutions (47), including national teacher training colleges
and Training. The remainder are responsible to other
(9), national junior teacher training colleges (8), and provincial
Ministries, such as Health, Culture, Finance, Law, etc. and
teacher training colleges (30); and other colleges (6).
provincial peoples committees.
A system of laws, statutes, and regulations has been
developed over the past few years to consolidate the legal
The Position of Higher Education in the National
basis for the management of institutions. This task has not
yet been completed, and indeed has lagged behind the drive
From 1993, by the Decision 93/CP of the
for renovation. This is especially the case regarding the
Government, the national education and training system of
case of management relations between the central government
Viet Nam consists of the following four sub-systems.
(the various ministries) and the institutions themselves, not
the least of which is in the area of regulations for the self-
Pre-school education which consists of creches receiving
government of institutions.
children from two months to 36 months old; and
kindergarten admitting children aged three to six years.
The regulations that have been developed currently
provide that the Ministry of Education and Training will fund
institutions through fixed expenses, to include salaries and
8 scholarships. Regarding personnel, the Ministry of Education
In 1993, two open universities were set up: one in
and Training determines the staffing of institutions, the control
Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh city. These two universities
of salary levels and the employment of teachers. With regard
will act as coordinators for the turning of the local in-service
to course organization, the Ministry of Education and Training
training centers into an open training network, using the mass
approves new courses and the education programs, develops
media for educational purposes. Eleven other higher education
the examination statutes, and confers degrees.
institutions also run distance education courses.
In addition, the Commission for Education, Culture,
Most institutions operate two semesters of 15
and Youth of the National Assembly and the Commission
teaching weeks, with two weeks of examinations in each
for Science and Education of the Party Central Committee
academic year (an academic year runs from September to
are also responsible for policy making in higher education.
June). Since 1988-1989, many universities have adopted a
The institution that assists the Ministry of Education and
credit point system, allowing students greater choice of
Training in researching strategy, policy and the master plan
subjects in approved combinations. In 1991, 43 out of
and management of the development of higher education is
60universities had two-phase degree programmes: phase I
the National Institute for Educational Development.
consists of two years of foundation knowledge and
techniques; phase II covers two years of specialized knowledge
The Delivery of Higher Education
and techniques. Most degree courses are of four years
Higher education qualification programmes range
duration, with medical and dental science lasting six years
from three years (associate bachelor) to eight years (doctorate)
and industrial engineering five years. Teaching depends heavily
of required training. Longer higher education programmes
on lectures. With nearly 30 formal contact periods scheduled
are offered in most institutions: medical and dental sciences
weekly, little time is available for independent study.
(six years); industrial engineering (three years); and four years
for most other degree level qualifications. In general, most
Training at the masters level is undertaken as per
programs consist of 1 1/2 to 2 years of general education,
the decision of the Council of Ministers, decreed on March
followed by specialisation.
9, 1991. Such students are trained for two years in the full-
time format or for three years in the in-service format.
Short diploma programmes are also offered in junior
colleges, with a duration of about three years. Most higher
Vietnamese is the only language of instruction in
education is government-sponsored, but private education is
the higher education institution . This leads to the
now encouraged and a few such programs can be found.
modernisation of the Vietnamese language with the constant
addition of new technical terms. However, graduates of the
In 1996 there were 93 public, and nine people
universities and colleges may not be strong in foreign
established higher education institutions in the whole country,
languages, restricting international communication.
with 41,483 students.
The Vietnamese government has always paid
Short-term training in higher education is aimed at
attention to the training and upgrading of its higher education
covering the need for a large workforce with the advanced
teaching staff. By 1996, Vietnamese higher education had
scientific, technical, and professional knowledge required
21,142 teachers, with 31.8 percent being female. Of those
chiefly by localities. Many courses have been jointly opened
staff, about 14 percent are doctors and about six percent are
by the needy work units and local colleges on a contract basis.
associate professors or professors. The salaries of teachers
Some short-term courses have been opened especially for
(and other education staff) are very low, and are not keeping
ethnic minorities living in highland and remote areas, as well
pace with increases in the cost of living. A serious consequence
as on offshore islands.
of low salaries is that many teachers often seek income from
work outside their normal jobs. This results in a reduction of
In-service training and correspondence courses are
the quality of their work, their dedication to it, and the time
offered in the universities and colleges. Such courses were
they have available for the extra assistance that many students
established in 1960 and are funded both by the government
need outside normal university hours.
and the learners own organization. Provincial in-service
training centres were set up to facilitate the provision of
There are many difficulties attached to the
university and college in-service training courses at different
professional development of higher education teachers.
localities. Currently, there are 31 provincial training centres,
Viet Nam has no institution that specialises in upgrading the
of which 22 are independent and nine are attached to a related
teachers of universities and colleges. It can be considered
university or college located in the province.
that scientific research in universities and colleges, in
connection with ones subject, is a form of development for
In the past 30 years, this in-service training
staff. However, it has not really been paid adequate attention,
provision has contributed greatly to the improvement of the
with only six percent of the countrys research budget allocated
qualification of working people, thus helping meet the
for such work. In past years though, approximately 30 percent
requirements for socio-economic development. From 1960
of higher education teachers did experience some form of
to 1990, 140,000 people graduated from universities and
normal upgrading training.
colleges by this method, constituting 11 percent of the total
number of graduates nationally.
Vietnamese higher education
has always attempted to
combine theory with practice
and to integrate instruction
with research and production
Vietnamese higher education has always attempted
The first step in reconstruction of the higher
to combine theory with practice, and to integrate instruction
education network has already taken place. In 1993, the
with research and production. Before 1990, universities and
government decided to combine three major Hanoi
colleges had the major task of training cadres for the countrys
universities into one national level multidisciplinay institution.
socio-economic development. The activity of scientific
Further multidisciplinary universities were established in Ho
research was only one part of the teaching-learning process.
Chi Minh city, ThaiNguyen, and Hue through the
Since 1990, the scientific research activities in universities
amalgamation of a number of specialised universities and
and colleges have been clearly identified and defined as part
of the national scientific research system. The results of many
scientific research projects carried out by universities and
The research and development activities of
colleges have been used in practice, and have contributed
universities and colleges are becoming more active. The
greatly to socio-economic development.
MOET is now implementing three national research
programmes, 80 national projects, and 640 ministerial-level
In 1989, the Ministry of Education and Training
projects. Funding for R&D in the state budget accounted for
allowed universities and colleges to establish scientific
VND 11.5 billion; R&D activities funded by contracts reached
research-production units. By 1990, there were 111 units of
VND 100 billion.
scientific research and social service. Thirteen units belong
to the Ministry of Education and Training, with a further 98
International Relations of Viet Nam Higher Education
units belonging to 23 universities and colleges.
Following the open policy of the Vietnamese
Government, higher education authorities have, step by step,
been expanding international cooperation through the
participation of education officials, researchers, and teachers
To improve the relevance of education and training
in international workshops, study tours, and training. Viet Nam
to the needs of social and economic development, Viet Nam
has also invited numerous international organisations like the
has now begun to review its higher education system, curricula,
UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WB, ADB to assist
and courses. A variety of institution types now exist, including
and participate in the implementation of educational
public, semiprivate, and private institutions. They offer long
development projects in Viet Nam.
and short, full-time and part-time courses, distance learning,
contract, and in-service courses.
Presently, there is registered contact with 19
countries, 10 international organizations, 35 NGOs, and 60
To overcome the weaknesses in the system and to
universities and colleges. Vietnamese and foreign higher
respond to the demands of a changing society, Viet Nam has
education institutions are implementing 21 projects jointly,
embraced new concepts and introduced a number of measures
at a funding level of US $ 25 million.
to develop the higher education system. This is demonstrated
in Table 1.
Vietnam has especially expanded its cooperation
within the Southeast Asia region: rejoining SEAMEO; helping
Innovation measures have already brought some
the Asian Institute of Technology set up AIT Centre in Hanoi;
improvements to higher education.
and sending students for training in many countries.
The number of new full-time enrollments increased
As well as education at home, the Vietnamese
from 127,312 in 1986-1987 to 414,183 in 1995-1996.
government has often sent students abroad to study. In the