In recent days, the first-grade reading books have been posted on websites with criticism like they will spoil children, teach them bad habits, or “have to ban right a textbook like that because it will form a generation of damn children,” etc.
A Facebooker even urged the Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha to read and reflect on his own to find out mistakes that may affect the morale of young generations.
Some parents disagree with the use of words in the book that they consider too new and obscure. For example, use the word “nhá” to say about the action “eating” or “red melon” instead of ‘watermelon’…
Mr. Minh Hai, who has a daughter this year, entered Grade One, expressing his feelings against criticism on social media:
“I see that people are right, but not wrong. Although they are not experts, people now have qualifications, they study carefully before speaking. When the education branch launched such a book, I found something was wrong because it had already been reviewed before release. Through many stages of censorship, but still have such errors. Why put such bullshit content and words in the book to teach children?”
Mr. Tam, the owner of the Khai Tam book store in Saigon, said that he never displays textbooks because the content of these books is not good if not too bad. It does not educate children on what is human or what is most basic of politeness. If compared with the book The National Anthropology or the Ethics of the Book of Doctrine before 1975, it is far behind. Mr. Tam asked:
“Actually, this situation lasted quite a long time. The first is due to the monopoly of the Education Publishing House which has long been drafted and distributed for the whole country, which cannot be touched by the private sector. The pictures taken directly from the pages of the book show that it was poorly compiled. I wonder why it was licensed to publish? ”
On January 22, 2019, the Ministry of Education and Training announced 32 grade 1 textbooks under the new general education program in eight subjects that had been approved by the Minister.
Of the 32 books, there are five Vietnamese books, five Maths, five Ethics, three Nature and Society, one Physical Education, five Music, five Fine Arts, and three Experimental Activities. In which, Education Publishing House of Vietnam has 24 books, constituting 4 sets of books. The two publishers, Hanoi Pedagogical University and the Ho Chi Minh City Pedagogical University, have four books each, forming a set of “Kite Wings.”
Teacher Xuan Mai said that grade 1 textbooks are very important for a child’s early childhood development. She commented on the current first-grade reading book:
“I read it and I startled to not imagine it like that.
Children in grade One are the age of speaking and writing. It is learning to shape language, to shape personality. First-grade children are like blank pages. If you teach the wrong things, it will affect the children’s basic development.
In the past, when children reached grade 5, there were no more spelling mistakes. Now, even teachers have spelling mistakes in lesson plans. That’s because of the background from elementary school.”
According to Ms. Xuan Mai, the book has pages that not only have unscientific words, not the correct Vietnamese language but the content teaches evil, teaches children selfishness and dishonesty.
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Hoang Dung, an expert in linguistics, currently teaching at the University of Pedagogy Ho Chi Minh City has a different perspective. He argues that the current arguments to disparage textbooks are largely incorrect. It’s not that bad and people are blowing it up too loudly. That’s not fair. He explained:
“If I write, I won’t write like that. But that’s another story. To attack the textbook to such an extent is too much. In my opinion, it is too much because the most important thing is that their faults are not that bad. Second, textbooks are only a very small part of so much in education. I say, for example, people give a few words and ask why are they using only the North language?
They say that I think what they say is not true because textbooks are a group of books for students to books for teachers. For the purpose of developing vocabulary, one has the right to speak the words of the Northern people. But in the teacher’s book, they have instructions on how to speak for students in the Central and South regions.
Thus, textbooks not only say familiar words but also provide new vocabulary, especially knowledge of the local language.”
Associate Professor. Hoang Dung concluded that, if the student’s book was written like that, but the teacher’s book would absolutely not discuss it, then people would criticize it.
Also related to education, for many years, a slogan has been put on the scale many times whether to keep or discard. That is the slogan “First ceremony, later knowledge.”
Those who want to keep this slogan argue that they must teach the ceremony first because it is the original. This slogan must be hung in schools to urge teachers to focus on teaching children that human learning is more important than vocational learning.
Those who want to remove this slogan, arguing that the concept of ceremony is not defined in a formal way, each person understands according to his or her own style. At the same time, it is the motto of an out-of-date education that is no longer suitable for modern education.
Teacher Xuan Mai said that when she was still in class, she did not see the slogan “First moral then knowledge.” Instead, there are “5 things Uncle Ho taught” and “Emulation to teach well, compete to study well.”
In an interview with RFA on this issue, Dr. Le Nguyen Quoc Khang, currently Vice Rector of the Ho Chi Minh City Open University stated his opinion:
“This tagline is not new, but it is never old. Because it is said that “having talent without virtue can not do anything” has such a meaning. Actually now people often say and think that the word “moral” means “dignity” like money or other … that’s not true. Ceremony means the communication and culture of the person, not a matter of “dignity” that means going to school to give her money, gifts or gifts are wrong. Must teach children to understand “ceremony” is culture, is the treatment between people, not a matter of matter.”
One parent shared with RFA his thoughts that the slogans hanging in the school and in the classroom are not important. What matters is how to implement that slogan. Never did he see the deterioration of school ethics like now. And what he is most interested in now is the first grade textbook that his child is studying.