The aim of education is to provide knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits, yet education in each country is supposed to be different from the others. Driscoll (1995) believes that education in U.K. does not work in the same way as it does in other countries. In order to find out those differences, this writing will make a comparison and contrast between education in the U.K. and Vietnam, focusing on the educational system, educational style, and school life.
The education system in the U.K. contains some differences inside, instead of having one general system for the whole country as in Vietnam. While Vietnamese education system follows one structure, education in the U.K. is constructed in two systems (one for Scotland only and the other for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland). Although all the three structures are divided into four basic levels (primary, middle, secondary, and tertiary), the school age and the number of years for each level are not the same. In Vietnam, primary education includes five grades (from one to five) for students from six to ten years old. However, the primary education in the U.K. includes seven grades in Scotland and six grades in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Furthermore, people in Britain go to school earlier than Vietnamese one year. After finishing primary school, Vietnamese students will start the intermediate level (middle school) which will end at the grade nine whereas British people finish their intermediate education at the eleventh grade. High school level (secondary school) takes of three years Vietnamese and one year of Scottish. Vice versa, the other part of Britain does not have high school level in the education system, but instead of that, students have to spend from one to two years on further education to take their A-levels, GNVQ (General National Vocational Qualification), BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) diploma, and so on. Yet, in both countries, students have to complete secondary school or further education before going to Higher education (University or College). Vietnamese and Scottish education share the same length of University’s course while English, Welsh, and Irish education require three years for finishing University.
The styles of education in the U.K. and Vietnam.
Traditionally, students in Vietnam have been expected to go to school, sit down, shut up, and listen. There is always a big gap between students and teachers in Vietnam. Perhaps, this is one of the effects of Confucian culture. For a long time, this style makes Vietnamese students become passive and not confident. However, In the U.K., students are given the right to express their opinions. Vietnamese education is also affected by its politics. Most of Vietnamese students are not welcomed to express their dissent from the government, and they cannot ensure whether the historical information which they learned from school is true. Vice versa, British students have freedom of speech. Therefore they can express their ideas, opinions about the issues of society without worrying about being arrested. The workload of Vietnamese and British students are also different. Beside the school time with 12 subjects, Vietnamese students also take part in some extra-classes for main subjects (mathematics, chemistry, physics, English, and literature) because they do not have much support from their teachers at school. In the U.K., students’ workload is much lower than in Vietnam. Furthermore, teachers in British support their students to promote students’ ability.
Differences in the school life of Vietnamese and British students
In Vietnam, the first nine years of general education are compulsory. This means that at least every Vietnamese is expected to complete the ninth grade. An academic year in Vietnam always lasts from September to May. At the middle of the school year, students are allowed to break two weeks for Tet holidays. On the other hand, education is compulsory for children from five (four in Northern Ireland) to sixteen. An academic year in the U.K. lasts from September to June or sometime July of the following year, and it is separated into three terms which are called Autumn term, Spring term, and Summer term while there are two terms in a Vietnamese academic year which are called the first and the second term. In Vietnam, a school year usually last from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. or from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., yet students have to join in extra classes. Therefore, generally, a Vietnamese student study from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is much different in Britain, a school day traditionally lasts from 8:45 in the morning to 3:15 in the afternoon, and then students go home.
Education might partly be affected by culture and politics. Furthermore, Vietnamese educational system is supposed to be close to the U.S. Educational system. Therefore, education in Vietnam and Britain are not the same. The educational system, education style, and school life are the three aspects which illustrate the differences of these countries’ education. However, none of them could be concluded as the worst one since each of them has its own advantages and drawbacks.
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