Providing preschool education for all children when they reach five years old is one of the key tasks facing the education sector in the school year ahead.

The sector set the goal at an online meeting reviewing the 2012-2013 academic year on August 22. The success of the nation’s preschools was put under the spotlight as a programme to boost this sector and increase the number of students attending was launched three years ago.

It was agreed that in order to be successful, the development of preschool infrastructure is essential. It is hoped that this will encourage parents to send their children in the preschool age bracket (of whom 95 percent are five years old) to preschools for early education.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thi Nghia said the ministry will direct its departments to support disadvantaged families so that they are able to send their children to preschools.

At the meeting, head of the Preschool Education Department Nguyen Ba Minh said that during the 2012-2013 school year - the third year of the project - 99 percent of five-year-old children were sent to school.

However, the rate in some provinces, including Kien Giang, Soc Trang and An Giang, were low (4.8, 6.4 and 9 percent respectively), according to Minh. More worryingly still, 35 percent of cities and provinces contained no districts that could fulfil the target.

The shortage of teachers and preschools was said to be the main reason for the situation.

The sector also considered investing and developing education and training for mountainous and ethnic minority people as one of its top priorities in the new school year.

It will manage the teaching of ethnic minority languages and strengthen Vietnamese language education at preschools in these regions, as well as improving the standard of secondary education.-VNA