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A dynamic director with a passion for education

 

Pham Thi Cuc Ha

Education & Times Newspaper – With a Bachelor degree in Pedagogy in Russia, a Master degree in Educational Management with the Australia Awards Scholarship, and a Diploma on Kindergarten Education in Australia, Ms Pham Thi Cuc Ha has shown her passion for education by investing her time and effort in learning how to manage schools from kindergarten to higher levels, in experiencing how to teach at kindergarten schools, and then starting her career as an entrepreneur in Vietnam. 

Adopting the Australian Educational model to Vietnam 

During her studies in Australia, Cuc Ha was provided not only theoretical knowledge but also opportunities to be exposed to the educational system outside of the classroom. She visited kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools, and worked with many educational managers. She strongly believes that the Australian educational model allows students to use their full potential without necessarily competing with their fellow students. To her, this should be adopted by the Vietnamese educational system. Cuc Ha and her supervisor developed a proposal about international kindergartens in Vietnam. “However, after careful consideration, I realized that my final target was Vietnamese students. I hope Vietnamese students will learn about Vietnamese culture in an international environment,” shared Cuc Ha. 

In 2007, Cuc Ha founded Just Kids Kindergarten and Language Centre to express her passion and create a school for her own children. 

She applied the Australian approaches, namely bilingual education and play-based learning, to the Just Kids Kindergarten. In the first year, the school received nearly 40 students who were children of Cuc Ha’s friends. After 11 years of operation, Cuc Ha is currently director of 5 Just Kids Kindergartens in Hanoi. 

When her first daughter entered 10th grade, Cuc Ha brought her to Australia to experience high school education in a developed country. During this trip, Cuc Ha discussed innovations in the Vietnamese education system with her Australian professors, and this triggered a new question: Why doesn’t she adopt SACE – the South Australian Certificate of Education – to Vietnam? Vietnamese students who were awarded with SACE would have far more advantages in their study and career. This question made her ponder.

After careful preparation, in 2016, she and a group of like-minded friends founded SACE College Vietnam to adopt SACE to Vietnam, with authorization of the SACE Board of South Australia, Department of Education, South Australia. In 2018, SACE College Vietnam partnered with HOCMAI Educational System to establish the Hanoi Adelaide School which provides elementary, secondary, and high school education in accordance with the Vietnamese educational system and Australian education framework. Students who graduate receive dual certificates which will give them advantages in the future. 

Thinking about training for teachers 

The first difficulty Cuc Ha confronted when adopting the Australian education model to Vietnam was not curriculum, but training for teachers. Vietnamese teachers are familiar with one-way methods while in play-based learning, teachers are expected to support and facilitate an environment and encourage students to discover and learn by themselves. At the beginning this difference was a real challenge to Cuc Ha.

To re-train teachers at the beginning, Cuc Ha established a teaching plan including questions for students. However, she recognized that some teachers followed the plan too strictly. After that, she involved teachers in developing the educational program and helped them to improve their knowledge and to manage the pedagogical approach. 

In thinking about training for teachers, in the last five years Cuc Ha has put substantial efforts into opening a Training Centre for Kindergarten Teachers which introduces Australian training methods through on–the-job training. This method allows high school graduates to work at kindergartens after graduation and learn through doing the job.

Cuc Ha had earlier experienced this training method. She thinks that on-the-job training will help learners to compare theoretical knowledge with practical experiences, then adapt more quickly to the work environment and ever changing situations. In addition, this method helps students to earn a salary even while studying. Cuc Ha has pursued this project with the hope of providing education for kindergarten teachers in Vietnam. 

The everyday joy 

“People say that providing education services must be very profitable! I think that with a few hundred billion Vietnam dong, if we invest in education, in buying land and building schools etc., receiving a payback is unlikely in 50 years. However, this amount will bring a higher profit if we invest in other sectors. The reason I invest in education is purely my passion and hope to bring more advantages to Vietnamese students,” said Ms. Pham Thi Cuc Ha.

In developed countries, the Department for Education regulates that educational managers, teachers, and school staff should be trained in prescribed hours annually. However, this regulation is not obligatory in Vietnam. At her current role, Cuc Ha feels that she has responsibility to continuously update her profession and information. Being involved in the SACE Program, Cuc Ha frequently goes to Australia and other countries to learn more. The highest priority for her is improving her profession, then transferring her knowledge to teachers and colleagues. 

In addition, Cuc Ha has participated in online courses. Sometimes, these courses provide her with small things, such as how to invite children to games and trigger their curiosity, how to introduce a new toy for kindergarten students to improve their thinking and exploration, etc. She always thinks about how to make students happier, how to teach and manage more effectively her schools’ activities, teachers, and staff. People who work with her usually calls her “dynamic director” implying her endless energy for education. 

“Joy! I feel happiest when going to schools and seeing happy students. I think educational philosophy or advanced educational methods are as important as happy students. Witnessing their bright and smiling faces is a success to me!”- Ha responded quickly when being asked what education brought to her. With her, every day is filled by bright eyes and smiles of students.

Source: Translation of an article on Education and Times Newspaper