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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Education experts: prestigious schools may be overrated

Parents push to gain acceptance for their children in prestigious schools, especially in primary education, may do more harm than good, according to some education experts.
 
Prestige of schools not the only factor in quality education
Pham Xuan Tien, head of the Hanoi municipal Department of Education and Training’s Primary Education Office, said that parents should not
 pay too much attention to the names of schools, but instead focus on the school's environment, infrastructure and quality of education.
“It would be a good idea for parents to consider other factors than the names of schools, such as how close it is to their home and the time given to students by teachers," Tien suggested.
He emphasised the importance of art and physical education during primary education, and that concerns over strict academic study should be reserved for high schools.
He added that, due to enrollment quotas, most prestigious schools are overcrowded, accommodating around 60 students per class.
“Around 10,000 children in Hanoi will enter primary education this school year. This will add to the problems of schools which already have overburdened infrastructure and staff. We have requested that district leaders help balance enrollment between 'prestigious' schools and others to even out this burden," he said.
The department plans more research into the benefits of sending children to preschool. Other studies have suggested that, although students who attend pre-first grade classes are rated as 'outstanding' the first term of the first school year, the educational benefits even out after some months.
Pham Ngoc Dinh, Director of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Primary Education Department, said the ministry will request primary teachers not to give marks to first grade students during their first term in order to ease pressures for students and parents.
“We will collaborate with local authorities to work out solutions to deal with overcrowding at some schools so as to more broadly ensure the quality of education,” he added.
Many parents have shown agreement with this model, as parents of children who attend prestigious schools admit to having to jostle on holidays to deliver teachers special gifts to earn favour. There have been other complaints of schools who deliver good marks just in order to keep up the school's reputation, validating high tuition fees.
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