Pupils take part in an English lesson with a foreign teacher. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Ministry of Education and Training organised a conference on January 22 to discuss a new initiative to improve the quality of primary English education.

The plan aims to ensure English is taught to all Vietnamese pupils between the third and fifth grades, starting from the 2016-2017 academic year. There will be four lessons every week.

The 2014-2015 school year saw more than 711,000 pupils without access to English education.

Participants pointed to obstacles facing the recruitment and training of primary English teachers.

According to participants, prior to the start of the national plan for foreign language learning, English was an optional subject at the primary level, so there were no regulations to include English teachers in schools’ payrolls.

Currently, Vietnam has 21,430 primary English teachers, less than a third of whom are employed full time. The four-lesson target will require approximately 7,766 more teachers in the workforce.

Another problem is the low quality of teaching staff. By July 2015, only 31.37 percent of overall primary English teachers across the nation satisfied language standards.

Inadequate training facilities and the overlapping of training sessions have also added to the issue.

To handle these drawbacks, representatives from the ministry and educational establishments put forth a series of measures.

They suggested one teacher be able to teach at several schools in the same area, and incompetent staff should be let go.

They also proposed providing proper wages and incentives for contracted teachers, among other solutions.-VNA