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“3 substantives”, a model of implementing Directive 05 in Military Region 5’s Military School

In order to put into practice the studying and following of Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality and lifestyle in line with Directive 05-CT/TW by the 12th Politburo (hereinafter Directive 05), the Military Region 5’s Military School (hereinafter the School) has adopted various models. Chief among these was “3 Substantives” model.

Shooting test intended for the School’s cadets

As an education and training institution, the School is tasked with providing education and training for command non-commissioned officers, technical staff and reserve officers, offering undergraduate courses in basic military studies to Military Region 5’s armed forces, equipping students throughout Da Nang City and Quang Nam Province with defense-security education, and running refresher courses attended by cadres from Laotian and Cambodian armed forces. In order to fulfill those tasks, the School Board has introduced numerous measures with the effective implementation of Directive 05 as the cornerstone. This has been concretized into “substantive teaching, substantive learning, substantive testing and assessment” (or 3 Substantives) and taken as a goal for the School’s collectives and individuals to reach and a yardstick of their performance.

1. Substantive teaching

Amidst shortcomings in one-way teaching tradition, being fully aware of the higher echelons’ resolutions and directives on education and training, and imbued with Uncle Ho’s words that teaching should enable learners to quickly absorb and memorize knowledge and to make rapid progress, the School Board has determinedly focused their leadership on renovating teaching activities on a substantive basis, which makes them suitable for learners’ knowledge levels and the School’s realities. To this end, importance has been attached to teaching staff as the root of the problem by making them both “red” and “expert” to serve as a prerequisite for enhancing the quality of education and training.

At the same time, the School Board has requested Military Region 5’s Command to send its teachers to academies and universities inside and outside the military for either full-time or part-time further education as well as to military units for the sake of their enhanced teaching skills. Therefore, the School has its teaching staff increasingly standardized. Currently, master’s degree holders, bachelor’s degree holders, associate degree holders and vocational certificate holders account for 6.6%, 68.9%, 15.6% and 9% respectively of the School’s teaching staff, many of whom are awarded the title of “Eminent Teacher at School level”. In 2017, two of its teaching staff was awarded the title of “Eminent Teacher at ministerial level”. At the same time, attention has been paid to the contingent of cadres in charge of managing cadets so that they can join teaching activities, thereby easing teachers’ workload. In order to enhance the quality of education and training, the School has drastically reformed teaching contents and methods with emphasis placed on bringing curricula and syllabuses into line with cadets’ military tasks. The School’s faculties have strictly enforced regulations on teaching while paying due attention to the assessment and review of teachers’ lectures before and after class. Also, importance has been attached to developing models of lesson plans based on 3 criteria: Learner-centered approach, computer-aided presentations and mindmap.

Following Uncle Ho’s teachings that “…a living role model is more precious than a hundred long-winded speeches”, the School has associated the implementation of Directive 05 with that of the Resolution of the Party Central Committee’s 4th Plenum (11th and 12th tenure) on Party building and rectification. This has motivated teachers to strive for self-improvement, sharpen their teaching skills, foster a sense of morality in their words and actions, forge their devotion to the teaching profession, and provide cadets with high-quality training on the drill ground against the backdrop of harsh weather in Vietnam’s South Central region. This is the most substantive teaching method that contributes to imparting knowledge, skills and moral standards of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers” to cadets.

2. Substantive learning

In order to inflame learners’ passion for learning, it is important that a strong motivation and a positive attitude be generated in them. Being fully aware of this and based on the learner-centered approach towards a gradual change from formal education to self-education, the School holds democratic dialogues and popularizes Education-Training Regulations at the very beginning of each academic course. While maintaining strict discipline, managerial cadres have focused on keeping track of learners’ minds to provide them with timely orientation. The School has requested its teachers to widely and effectively employ the learner-centered approach and to increase the use of realia and interaction between teachers and learners by means of seminars and Q&A sessions. At the same time, practice sessions have gone up regarding military tactics, military regulations, night combat training, field training, physical exercise and long marches to make sure “practice makes perfect”. This lays an important foundation for cadets to promote their self-education and self-training. Being fully aware of differences in cadets’ knowledge levels, the School’s managerial cadres have closely cooperated with teachers in helping cadets with their learning under the slogan “Never let cadets go it alone on the road to knowledge”. As a result, learning emulation movements have become further energized with a series of creative models such as “youth’s lecture theatres”, “learning duos”, “youth’s class periods”, “Youth Union’s organizations striving for first-class training”, contributing to enhancing the quality of cadets’ learning. In doing so, cadets have developed their passion for learning and self-improvement with a view to becoming good citizens and successfully fulfilling assigned tasks.

3. Substantive testing and assessment

The subjective, accurate and scientific assessment of learning results reflects the quality of the product of teaching, which forms the basis for the review and adjustment of the teaching process. Being fully aware of this, the School has strictly followed Directive 60/CT-TM, dated December 15th, 2006 by the Chief of General Staff on “Combating negative practices and achievement disease in education”. Accordingly, the School has concentrated on directing its relevant bodies to conduct the assessment of cadets’ academic results carefully and comprehensively. In the meantime, since its inception, the Department of Educational Testing has provided the School Board with helpful advice to make testing in education objective and transparent.  Alongside reforms in testing formats and methods, faculties have built and gradually developed exam question banks with a wide diversity of exam questions which cover comprehensive knowledge to test cadets’ competence. In addition to oral tests, the School has increased the number of multiple-choice tests and constructed-response tests. Tests have also been taken on a regular and periodical basis. All of those have enabled cadets to do self-assessment, thereby opportunely improving their learning methods. The School’s Office of Academic Affairs has stepped up inspection and supervision to redress shortcomings in teaching and learning in time and provide objective, fair, accurate assessments of cadets’ academic performance. In the process of education and training, the School has regularly maintained its relations with Military Region 5’s units to which its graduates are assigned in order to collect feedback on their performance, thereby improving its teaching methods. Surveillance cameras have been installed in classrooms and exam rooms while discipline has been imposed on any violator of exam regulations. As a result, in recent years, the School’s examinations have been sat seriously and carefully while the assessment of its cadets’ academic performance have been conducted comprehensively, objectively, transparently, fairly and accurately to minimize manifestations of negative practices and achievement disease.

The “3 Substantives” model has contributed to enhancing the School’s education-training quality. Annually, 100% of its cadets pass exams with the number of those with credit and distinction going up year on year. What matters is that its graduates have successfully fulfilled their tasks. In 3 years straight (from 2015 to 2017), the Ministry of National Defense awarded the School the first-class Flag as to the “Determined to Win” Emulation Movement. This is a vivid example of the School’s implementation of Directive 05, thereby motivating it to continue to strive for the accomplishment of education-training tasks to be worthy of its title “Hero of the people’s armed forces”.

Sr. Col. Do Thanh Xuan, Political Commissar of Military Region 5’s Military School

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