Vietnam officials visit Flanders, Belgium
In the context of the 2017-2021 multi-year programme 'Mitigating Preschool Children’s Barriers to Learning in Disadvantaged and Ethnically Diverse Districts', 9 Department of Education and Training core group members of Kon Tum, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai participated in an exposure visit to Flanders, Belgium from 17 to 28 March.
Exposure to innovative practices
The participants visited education institutions in Flanders to deepen their understanding of pre-school education and teacher professional development (TPD). They were exposed to context-relevant, innovative practices pertaining to process-oriented child monitoring, incidental learning and reflective practice by preschool teachers in Flanders and to effective school-based TPD within the Flemish context.
Well-being and involvement in preschools
The week allowed participants to observe teachers in their preschool classes and to interact with teachers and school leaders about language approaches in a multi-ethnic set-up. “Via exploring the early childhood education system of Flanders, I got a deeper understanding of good practices”, says Ms. Ha. Mses. Lien and Mui add: “We noticed that the whole classroom arrangement considers children’s needs. Children need to feel comfortable and safe. The teacher works with soft toys and animals to gain children’s trust. This improves the well-being of the children.”
Learning via playing
The visitors from Vietnam saw classroom management and organisation in practice. Children have developed a level of self-directed learning. “It was amazing to see how teachers lead children to learning via providing well-designed activities in each corner. The children are continuously engaged in activities that relate to their needs and interests. We have seen deep involvement in children,” says Ms. Quynh.
Mses. Mui and Trang indicate that they observed teachers being creative with materials. “They use recycled materials. The children’s products and art works are displayed in the classroom. They contribute to the decorations for the theme.”
Participants also looked at how school leaders and officials can provide effective school-based TPD and guide teachers to reflective practice. The exchanges with peers from Flanders allowed the participants to reflect on their own practices and identify good practices which can be applied to the Vietnamese context. “I found it interesting to see how the pedagogical advisors organise school-based teacher professional development activities,” says Ms. Hoa.
Tailormade and participatory
Ms Nuong adds: “I am impressed with how TPD is approached in Flanders. The content and methods are adjusted to the specific needs of a school. What also stood out is the working atmosphere which was friendly and encourages all teachers to participate. We can definitely take this good practice to Viet Nam.” Mses. Canh and Diep indicate that they learned some approaches to guide teachers and school leaders in their reflective practice. They are convinced that this moment-by-moment reflection can improve the well-being and involvement of all children and hence, will further impact the quality of education in Viet Nam.
We will meet again
“Showing our visitors how we work, is like holding a mirror”, indicate Ms Bruneel and Ms Van den Hout from KathOndVla Education umbrella Flanders. “The questions from our guests make us reflect on our own practices. There are many similar challenges that we face in Flanders. An exchange like this is enriching for all of us. This visit is just the start. In a few weeks we will visit Viet Nam for the next step in our collaboration.”