On Friday, Dr. Ben Schmidt - Cambridge Assessment International Education Regional Director of South East Asia & Pacific, spoke with the Principal of Nguyen Sieu School, Mrs Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy , about the recent AS exam and future plan with the Cambridge programs

What do you think about the today’s exam results of Nguyen Sieu students in the Cambridge Examinations?

Today we celebrate the exam result of the Nguyen Sieu students in the Cambridge Examinations. These exams are the same all across the world. The students took exams today that are taken exactly the same in 60 different countries, 10000 schools among the world. And I can say that the results of the exams at Nguyen Sieu are above average of the Cambridge exams worldwide. That means Nguyen Sieu students did really well.

Could you please tell more about what plans that Cambridge is going to do with Nguyen sieu in particular and with other schools in Hanoi in general?

What is special about the work that Cambridge does with Nguyen Sieu school is that it integrates the Cambridge program which is an international education program taught in English with the Vietnamese national program taught in Vietnamese. And it’s that type of integrated program or you can also call it bilingual education which will become more and more important. That also means for future, I think, two things:

- Number 1 is that the government wants Maths and Science in particular to be taught in English and we are working together with the Ministry of Education and Training and the Department to help make that happen – Maths and Science in English. Nguyen Sieu, I believe, is a good model.

- The other future development is that more and more we will see Vietnamese teachers developing international or integrated program and teaching in the classroom in English.

Nguyen Sieu has recognized one thing that is really important about following Cambridge programs which is it is not only about knowing facts but it is also about understanding them and being able to apply what knowledge into the real world. That means to focus on practical skills as well as on critical thinking skills. That is increasingly important around the world and in Vietnam as the industry shifts into 4.0 with the digital economy as Vietnam becomes more and more integrated into the global economy. These are the skills that students need at the university and in the workplace to succeed. One example is that the Sciences with the Cambridge program, it is not enough to know the theory but also needs to be able to have the laboratories skills, to be able to conduct experiments. Nguyen Sieu is an example of the Cambridge has really invested in the laboratories. We are standing in one of the laboratories at the moment. That’s the right thing to do and if your students know the opportunities to develop their practical science skills before they apply to universities and we know that all the top science universities in the world really value students that have practical skills.

Another example of the practical skills that I understand that students need to develop in addition to their academic knowledge within the social science. Nguyen Sieu, for example, students can learn Travel & Tourism, Enterprise, or Global Perspectives where they need to develop research skills and work in teams to investigate into disciplinary problems. These are exactly the type of skills and competencies which universities tell us that they are looking for. If the students apply to top universities then having good grades in the subject knowledge is all in the beginning, only the basis but they then look for the admission officers. The students who have the ability to think critically, to investigate and, of course, have the understanding how the real world works. And Cambridge subjects such as Enterprise, Travel & Tourism, Global Perspectives but also others such as Marine sides or Agriculture are very important. It is also essential that students have the ability to study these practical, technical subjects at a very high level.