Vietnam Finland International School is the first Finnish school in Vietnam, established under Decision 5834/QĐ-HCMC of the HCM People's Committee on November 7th, 2016. VFIS marks an important milestone in the collaboration between the governments of Finland and Vietnam in education and training. Our school will start the era of the 21st-century learning for both Vietnamese and international pupils, bringing the Finnish approach to teaching and learning to Ho Chi Minh City.
While wholly owned by Ton Duc Thang University, VFIS is run as a non-profit school. This model aims to re-invest all income back into the school to benefit the pupils. As a result, we are able to devote all of our profits to our innovative programmes, state-of-the-art learning environments, modern facilities, and a professional staff of world-class teachers.
A new school is an adventure that gives pupils opportunities to recognize and build their lives. At VFIS, we offer pupils and families a big promise. We promise to nurture, support and educate children to live up to the demands of a fast changing society. We are proud to be the first Finnish international school in Vietnam. This means that we live and breathe Finnish expertise coupled with traditional Vietnamese heritage.
WHY FOUND A FINNISH SCHOOL IN VIETNAM?
“While studying at Chulalongkorn University, I noticed a high school inside the campus. When I was in Japan, there was also another one inside the Tokyo University of Science and Technology. There must be a reason for this existence. I have nurtured a dream of doing the same thing since 1996.”
Cited above is just one among many thoughtful ideas of Professor Le Vinh Danh, The President of Ton Duc Thang University (TDTU) when making the decision to establish the Vietnam-Finland International School (VFIS) right on the university campus. The following interview with Professor Le Vinh Danh, also the Founder of VFIS will shed light on why there is a unique Finnish school within the Vietnamese university.
Professor, why did the TDTU Presidential Board decide to establish an international school under TDTU?
Prof. Le Vinh Danh: There are three reasons for this decision: Firstly, our university has only four years to educate students in principles of action, professional ethics, and professional qualification. There is nothing we can do further than that within such a short time. However, if we have 12 years to teach a child, we are able to teach him sufficient philosophy and understanding of life, approach to life and the reason and purpose for his existence so as to build specific life goals. Thus, it helps to change awareness and the future. Secondly, with K-12 education, we can select people who have the qualities to give them special training at undergraduate and postgraduate level to help them become talented individuals, since nurturing talents is a continuous process.Thirdly, we know our general education is still inadequate, but after many years there is still no solution. Our education system is occupied with theoretical knowledge but lacks practical applications. Since a young age, children have to cram a lot of knowledge, while more developed education focuses on application for children to find knowledge on their own when needed. Application-centered education is effective when children learn what to do with their knowledge at an early age in order to do their jobs well, to succeed, to live and grow well with society. Therefore, our goal is to build a model of Finnish education in Vietnam so that everyone can see and believe that Vietnamese schools can do as well as Finnish schools and they will gradually change the way to educate students.
Can you share more about why Ton Duc Thang University chose Finnish education to be applied in Vietnam?
Prof. Le Vinh Danh: In 2016, I visited a Finnish school. Following the principal’s greetings, an 8th grader took us for a tour around the school. He confidently explained the functions of each room, each study area and workshop. Approaching the home economics rooms, I saw the students making cakes, sewing and embroidering, etc. Students make their own clothes, bake cakes for lunch and can skillfully create other products. At the bakery, I realized that students from the 6th, 7th and 8th graders could bake cakes themselves, too. I asked if they did this as project work or as food to eat or to sell. For both purposes, they said. At lunchtime, the cakes were ready to serve at our dining table. Already in middle school, school children are very good at vocational skills. That is why there is a lower percentage of Grade 12 students going to university compared to that of other countries. Most leaving 9th or 12th grade choose to work. They are good at various jobs, including home economics and crafts, such as embroidery, planing, turning, etc. and more sophisticated professions such as ICT installing and household electrical applications, computing and so on. High school graduates start doing businesses. Up to 27-30 years old, being quite mature enough, they can attend a university to upgrade their education. Finland is a country with a very clear and very early educational segmentation. Higher education is popular for students who want to pursue elite education. Universities of applied sciences are also preferred, so human resources are always available in this country with both doers and leaders. Realizing the educational incompetence in all school levels in our country, we would like to make a change and do something so that everyone can clearly see the outcomes of the changes .
Why not choose other advanced education models such as those found in Japan, America, Australia or England?
Prof. Le Vinh Danh: After studying educational models in the US, Australia, Canada, England, Japan and Singapore, we chose Finland for the following distinct advantages: The educational philosophy in Finland is not based on grades or academic achievements. School children are not required to study at home. It is believed that children can only learn effectively and grow comprehensively when they have fun and are happy. The principle is that all children are given an equal opportunity and no child is left behind. Such a humane and fair education is not only very extraordinary but shares common characteristics of the country and the people of Vietnam. In particular, this education directly opposes the current education that focuses on examinations and academic qualifications. That’s why we decided to choose Finnish education.
Do you think that VFIS philosophy of compassionate education is relevant in the context of education aiming at training global citizens who are capable and competent in all aspects?
Prof. Le Vinh Danh: In the global 4.0 era, a compassionate education is ever necessary. This is also the typical and outstanding cultural characteristics of Vietnam. Appreciating the feelings, sharing and caring about other people’s feelings and thoughts - this cultural identity is indispensable. In the age of 4.0 and globalisation, it is never more important to value humanity and how to live together well. The more technology and automation is developed, the more people need to live in affection. The more developed the country, the more humane culture needs to be highly valued. We consider it as a part of the philosophy of Finnish education in Asia.
What is the biggest goal for TDTU in bringing Finnish education to Vietnam?
Prof. Le Vinh Danh: We have three clear goals for this: We want to build a model of Finnish primary, secondary and high school in Vietnam like an experimental center to show everyone a clear picture of children going to school happy. Next, we want to use VFIS to develop a generation of pioneering and happy teachers for quality education to help students change the world. The teacher development program which is performed by the Faculty and Institute of Education is included in the teacher development program of TDTU. Finally, we desire to establish a Faculty of Educational Research at our university. After completing the teacher development plan, according to the third step of TDTU’s 20 year plan, VFIS will be a place to develop teachers as qualified as Finnish teachers and thereby help spread the educational philosophy “be happy when going to school.” Vietnam-Finland International School will be an influential factor affecting the positive changes of the country’s education in the near future.