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New policy may make it more difficult to control textbook market

Experts have warned that the ‘one curriculum, many sets of textbooks’ policy may cause chaos in the textbook market.
VietNamNet Bridge - Experts have warned that the ‘one curriculum, many sets of textbooks’ policy may cause chaos in the textbook market.


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Vietnam will apply the 'one curriculum, many sets of textbooks' policy



A movement to boycott the ‘Tieng Viet 1 – Cong nghe giao duc’ textbook (Vietnamese language for first graders, compiled in accordance with the new education technology program) started just before the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) approved the new education program. 

Under the program, MOET will be the only agency which sets curricula for every grade, while there will be many sets of textbooks to be compiled by different groups of authors. The new program is scheduled to begin from the 2019-2020 academic year.

Once the ‘one curriculum, many sets of textbooks’ policy is implemented, healthy competition is the prerequisite to have a healthy textbook market.

Analysts say that groups of textbook compilers and publishers are trying to launch an unhealthy competition to eliminate rivals.

The Vietnam Education Publishing House, now the only textbook publisher in Vietnam, is believed to pocket big profit with 100 million textbook copies printed every year. Parents have to pay VND1 trillion each year for textbooks. 

The Vietnam Education Publishing House, now the only textbook publisher in Vietnam, is believed to pocket big profit with 100 million textbook copies printed every year. Parents have to pay VND1 trillion each year for textbooks. 

A high school teacher in Hanoi affirmed that some groups of authors have been compiling new textbooks, even though the MOET still has not publicized the curricula and formal learning subjects. 

Analysts warned that as there would be many textbook compilers and publishers, it would be difficult to control the market.

According to Nguyen Quoc Vuong, a researcher, there are principles that need to be observed. 

The textbook inspection council must be completely independent and transparent with members who do not have relations with publishers. The members of the council must not be textbook compilers or officials who have the right to decide which textbooks to use.

Some experts, agreeing with Vuong, warned that if the phases of the textbook compilation and distribution cannot be separated, the textbook market will become chaotic as it is cornered by groups of interests.

Textbook compilers, publishing houses and schools could collude with each other. Textbook suppliers may pay under-the-table money to headmasters of schools to persuade the headmaster to choose their textbooks for the schools.

Vuong said there must be a transparent mechanism about who will have the right to choose textbooks. They could be headmasters, parents, teachers or local councils, but the selection process must be carried out in a transparent way.


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