On June 6, VVOB Vietnam organized a national consultation workshop in Hanoi on the transition from pre-school into primary education. Representatives from national education institutions, provincial partners as well as development partners including UNICEF and Plan International contributed to develop a shared understanding of transition in Vietnam.
Sharing and agreeing on transition issues
Within Vietnam, education policy makers, researchers and practitioners have different views on transition. VVOB Vietnam organized a national consultation workshop on this topic to develop a common understanding on transition that should result in better support for children in transition. Representatives from national and provincial education institutes, and international organizations exchanged ideas on the transition concept, discussed about pedagogy used in pre-school education and looked at the role of parents, teachers and school leaders in supporting children in this process. While VVOB introduced a theoretical framework of international transition practices, examples of supporting transition in Vietnam such as a contextualized model by Plan International and the pilot on bilingual education jointly carried out by UNICEF and MOET were shared as inputs to further explore transition issues from different perspectives.
Participants agreed that even though the issue of transition has already been touched upon for 20 years, there is a need to better address it. During the workshop, a lot of time was spent discussing the role of each stakeholder in supporting children's transitions. The participants agreed that three key interventions can contribute to more effective transitions.
- The weak link between kindergartens and primary schools should be addressed with more involvement of parents and with a specific focus on transition.
- The transition topic can be introduced in a more detailed manner into the curriculum of pre-school and primary Teacher Training.
- Parents need more skills to better support their children during the transition.
Developing a model of transition for Vietnam
VVOB Vietnam and its provincial partners are developing a comprehensive approach and model for teachers, school leaders and parents to better address pre-school to primary transition.
In this model, school leaders need to better coordinate with each other to ensure a good cooperation between kindergartens and primary schools on transition of young children in their respective communities. Kindergartens need to have a clear understanding of what is expected from their five year old children when they move into the primary school. Kindergartens can take crucial initiatives to ease the shift by gradually introducing the changes to these children, taking into account aspects of well-being in this process and exposing children to the primary classroom environment (e.g. by inviting the children to a primary education class).
The primary school teachers, and especially the grade 1 teachers, need to prepare themselves to be ready to support children in adapting to all changes, e.g.the new learning environment and the shift from incidental to intentional learning. This implies that a grade 1 teacher needs to combine the role of a care giver with a teaching role.
In Vietnam, the school system is often experienced as a closed environment with a prominent position for school leaders and teachers. However, the importance of parents’ involvement is becoming more and more recognized as a key factor in providing learning opportunities for young children, both in school and in home-based learning environments. Under VVOB's 2008-2013 Education Programme, the Women's Union and VVOB have jointly developed Education and Life Clubs (WU clubs), used for organizing activies on parenting education for mothers and - to some extent - fathers. These clubs have been recognized by the Woman Union as a good practice and disseminated to other provinces. Through these parents’ clubs educators and school leaders can better:
- support parents in the education of their children
- understand the home environment of the children.
Future pre-school and primary school teachers need to be equipped with knowledge and skills on supporting children's transitions. Teacher Training Institutes can support student teachers by introducing the topic of transition in the pre-service curriculum. The topic can be integrated in existing relevant subjects or addressed as a theme for extra-curricular activities.
Small step - strong foundation
The national consultation workshop proved to be a first success, providing a strong foundation for VVOB Vietnam to go forward with its work on transition.
Ms. Dương Thị Kim Út from the Bureau of Education and Training in Phổ Yên, Thái Nguyên province shared that “the workshop is very interesting. It is an opportunity for us to share with each other about the difficulties we face; a chance we haven’t had before. We tried to look for solutions”. Ms. Lê Thị Kim Ánh from Quảng Ngãi Department of Education and Training expressed that “the workshop presentations were really interesting and useful. In fact, we can feel the gap between kindergartens and primary schools. Primary school teachers have rarely paid attention to how pre-school teachers teach, or what children are learning in kindergartens". In her role as Vice Head of the Primary Education Division of the Quảng Ngãi Department of Education and Training, Ms. Ánh considered the workshop to be a catalysis for her to change the way she has been doing certain tasks to date. Ms. Ánh would like to ask primary school teachers to pay attention to the pre-school curriculum or organize the hand-over from kindergarten to primary school in a different way.