AusAID ALAF Program Can Tho University Farewell

25 September 2008

Dr Kevin Laws, Dr Lesley Harbon and Mr Tran Quoc Khanh, and senior staff members from Can Tho University who  attended a two-week  ALAF Programme
Dr Kevin Laws, Dr Lesley Harbon and Mr Tran Quoc Khanh, and senior staff members from Can Tho University who attended a two-week ALAF Programme

The University of Sydney has bid farewell to fourteen visiting academics from Can Tho University, Vietnam. The senior staff members successfully completed a two-week Australian Leadership Awards Fellowships (ALAF) program focused on strengthening pre-service teacher education within the Mekong Delta Region.

In addressing the formal farewell, the Dean of the School of Education at Can Tho University, Dr Nguyen Thi Hong Nam, told the audience that the in-depth professional development program will contribute greatly to the University's proposed education reform plans for 2009. "We have received excellent training at The University of Sydney. Senior staff members have had the opportunity to observe public, high school and tertiary education in Sydney and the most important thing that we have witnessed is that the Australian education system creates opportunities for students to grow and function well in society at a later stage."

The Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney received AusAID funding through the Australian Leadership Awards Fellowships for the project "Re-forming Initial Teacher Education Programs (RITEP)". The project was developed in close collaboration with colleagues from the School of Education at Can Tho University. Prior discussions with Can Tho University had indicated that despite Vietnam's high attendance rates at primary school level, secondary school student retention rates are lower, partly as a result of inconsistent curricula and a lack of high quality teacher training. The jointly-devised program was drawn up in response to the Vietnamese Government's 10-year education reform plan to provide high quality basic education for all children in Vietnam.

Dr Kevin Laws and Dr Lesley Harbon, in collaboration with the Dean and three Vice Deans from Can Tho University, planned the two week program to provide participants with opportunities to devise effective and appropriate ways to improve the structure and content of their teacher education programs.

Dr Harbon from the Faculty of Education and Social Work, says the success of the program comes down to a team effort. "We structured the program to respond to the needs of the delegates and in return, they have been able to teach us so much as well. This is just the beginning of a wonderful relationship."

Mr Tran Quoc Khanh, the Deputy Consul General of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Sydney said: "The Fellows are very proud about what they have learnt at the University of Sydney. It has been an unforgettable experience. The program has made an impact on the senior academic staff of both Universities and marks the beginning of a long and committed relationship between the two countries regarding educational reforms."

Dr Laws said: "In a time in which success is often determined through the achievement of measureable outcomes, this project illustrates the great importance of human relationships and mutual understanding. Not only were all of the stated outcomes achieved, but all participants in the program, from both universities, have developed strong friendships which will sustain successful collaboration in the future".

The success of the program was mutually reflected at the farewell ceremony with Dean Nguyen Thi Hong Nam's final words: "Our stay has been important, meaningful and rewarding. Mostly it has created a new perspective, new insights and new gifts."

The two-week training program was coordinated by Dr Kevin Laws and Dr Lesley Harbon from the Faculty of Education and Social Work, and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International), as part of an initiative of the Australian Government funded by AusAID.

Contact: Mandy Sacher

Phone: 02 91140622

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