Impressions of Vietnam & Cambodian Education

I recently spent some time visiting both Cambodia and Vietnam and saw some of their schools.  Both countries (while different from each other) have some things I believe we can learn from.

Observations of both:  Like most of the rest of the education world, there is a shortage of teachers.  This is caused by the low pay in each country.  Many of these dedicated people are forced to take other jobs which pay better or, like our guides) quit.  As in much of the developing world, there are fewer teachers and fewer schools in rural areas.  Students in primary schools go to school for a half a day in order to better “use” their limited resources.  In Cambodia, high school costs $10 a month.  While this doesn’t sound like much, for many families, this puts secondary school education out of reach.

I was particularly impressed with the Vietnamese treatment of their Special Education students.  These students are identified early and are educated separately.  They are given career education classes during the day and academic classes during the afternoon and evening.  We saw blind students being trained to play musical instruments and taught to sing.  Other Special Education students were being trained to weave or sculpt.  These students were being trained to be productive workers as soon as they left school.

Class sizes were high – 40 in primary schools in rural areas and 15 in the inner cities.  Teachers believed that they were unable to deal with all of these students in such large classes.  While we saw “teacher aides” in some classes, they were missing in others.

Universities were broken into specialties.  Students who wanted to become teachers go to a Teaching University.  Those interested in Engineering went to an Engineering University and so on.