Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan has appealed for an improvement in pre-school education and wants management for the education sector to be further decentralised ahead of the 2013-2014 academic year.

The Deputy PM took centre stage at a conference held by the Ministry of Education and Training in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on July 20, reviewing the education sector’s performance in the academic year just gone and setting tasks for 2013-2014.

Participants discussed all levels of education, from pre-school through to further education and vocational training.

Nhan said that in the past year the country opened 1,500 kindergartens, easing concerns over a lack of pre-school facilities.

The Government has issued policies aimed at ensuring that students, especially those in ethnic minority regions, have access to food, clothing and textbooks. After years of renewal, the country has, for the first time, implemented policies to help poor students in mountainous regions with their lunch and living fees, he said, adding that 160 more semi-boarding schools for ethnic students have also been established in the past year.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien lauded the sector for its successes over the past year, highlighting significant progress in teaching quality and quantity despite the current economic woes.

The number of pre-schoolers going to school hit over 4 million, up more than 217,000 from the year before. Meanwhile, the number of pupils attending elementary, secondary and high school education were 7.2 million, 4.8 million and 2.6 million respectively.

Positive changes were also seen in the general education sector, with encouraging successes achieved by Vietnamese candidates at regional and global Olympiad contests.

However, Hien conceded that education in national culture, history, ethics and living skills has experienced shortcomings. The quality of infrastructure and teaching equipment also remains largely inadequate and outdated, he added.-VNA