The Government will increase its budget for education next year to help fast-track this pivotal area in the nation’s development, says the Ministry of Education and Training.The director of the ministry’s Finance and Planning department, Nguyen Van An, said the Government plans to spend VND25 trillion (US$1.6 billion), or 17.1 per cent of the State budget, for education development in 2004. That marks an increase of VND1 trillion or 0.7 per cent over last year.
Education spending, which accounted for less than 10 per cent of the State budget a decade ago, is expected to account for 18 per cent in 2005 and 20 per cent by 2010. Despite these efforts, An said, the education budget this year can only meet 70 per cent of education development demands.
The gap between investment and development might be widened as training diversity and educational extension are boosted to meet people’s demands, he noted.
The government’s efforts aim to improve the quality of education, especially in vocational and professional training, to forge a strong contingent of qualified personnel for socio-economic development.
"Higher education will be further expanded," An said, noting that at present there are only 128 college students for every 10,000 people. Under the plan, the rate will rise to 140 students per 10,000 by 2005 and 200 by 2010.
In addition to State funding, other forms of investment in education and training are needed for Viet Nam he said, to meet its ambitious socio-economic targets.
He said his ministry intends to increase school tuition fees in the next academic year. However, he stressed, careful preparations must be made before the request is submitted to the Government for consideration. The current tuition fees cannot enable the ministry to invest more in education, he said.
An acknowledged that students in rural areas and needy families are the most vulnerable if school fees rise, adding that future school fees will be designed to meet training expenditures as well as assist poor students who excel in their studies.
According to the Deputy Education and Training Minister, Nguyen Van Vong, Viet Nam will need an estimated US$100 million annually for investment in education between 2003 and 2015.
He identified some major challenges facing the country’s education sector: school and classroom shortages, inexperienced teachers, and poor living conditions for teachers in remote mountainous regions.
Vong reiterated his ministry’s resolve to create equitable opportunities for access to education and training for children in all parts of the country.
Vietnam Economy - (06/10/2003)