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Education Ministry mulls solutions to reduce spending on textbooks

The Ministry of Education and Training has released an instruction asking teachers and managerial officers not to allow students write in textbooks so the books can be used again.

VietNamNet Bridge - The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has released an instruction asking teachers and managerial officers not to allow students write in textbooks so the books can be used again.


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Hundreds of million of textbook copies, worth a total of VND1 trillion, are thrown away each year. Parents have to spend VND1 trillion a year to buy new textbooks for their children. 

A set of six textbooks for primary school students is priced at VND45,300-78,300, while a set of 12-13 textbooks for secondary school students is VND97,700-144,500. High school students have to pay VND141-153,000 for 14 textbooks.

The wasteful spending has become a hot topic of discussion at National Assembly sessions. 

On education forums, parents have called on MOET to think of solutions to allow the reuse of textbooks and lower textbook prices.

MOET’s Minister Phung Xuan Nha then issued the instruction to disallow writing in textbooks. 

The Ministry of Education and Training has released an instruction asking teachers and managerial officers not to allow students write in textbooks so the books can be used again.

Tran Xuan Nhi, former Deputy Minister of MOET, though agreeing that textbooks need to be used in an economical way, doubts the solution will bring the desired effects.

In principle, teachers can only ask students not to write in textbooks, but cannot command them to do this. 

Nguyen Chi Dung from the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration said that it would be difficult to implement the solution, because it depends on student self-discipline. 

The best measure to prevent students from taking notes and writing in textbooks is changing the content of textbooks. 

The problem is in the way exercises are designed. Students are mostly required to solve multiple-form questions. To solve math questions, students must show explanations before giving final answers. 

A high school teacher in Hanoi commented that MOET’s idea is unreasonable. Even if textbook compilers do not include multiple-choice questions, students still want to write in textbooks.

“Many people have the habit of taking notes on the margin of textbooks and underlining important paragraphs. This is a good way to remember facts,” he said, adding that teachers should not advise students to take notes on paper instead of textbooks.

Students would find it difficult to remember and understand lessons, he added.

Vu Hoang Son, a primary school teacher in HCM City, said that the instruction by MOET would place difficulties on teachers. Textbooks belong to students and they have the right to use them in the way they want. Teachers do not have the right to make interventions, he said.


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