HA NOI Dinh Manh Tu, a top 17-year-old student at a prestigious Ha Noi high school, does not know how to do anything for himself and he still needs his parents to bring him to school and pick him up each day.
Tu has refused to take up any sports, games or social activities with friends or even family members.
"My only focus is studying so that I ll have a good job with a high salary in the future," said Tu.
Tu is not the only young person with the same idea. Many students in Viet Nam have a lack of social and life skills.
Research released over the weekend by HCM City s Institute for Education Research at a conference on Student Attitudes About Their Future Orientation , sponsored by the institute and the Wrigley Company, showed that more than 80 per cent of surveyed students are optimistic and have many dreams about their future but they lack the life skills and attitudes to really achieve in life.
Nguyen Kim Dung, deputy head of the Institute for Education Research, said the research was conducted at high schools and universities in Ha Noi, HCM City, Da Nang and Can Tho.
"About 85 per cent of the students questioned feel they only need to focus on studying their school subjects. They do not appreciate the role of social and life skills such as communication and team work," said Dung.
The research also showed that students would spend more time after graduation from university before they would have all the skills necessary to do some jobs.
"In line with other international research, people only get 25 per cent of the knowledge they need from school; the remaining 75 per cent comes from social activities. However, Vietnamese students tend to want the knowledge they learn from studies only, which has led to many young people not daring to throw themselves into life to gain real experiences. Teachers and parents do not care about helping their children gain social life skills," she added.
Tu said that his parents only expected him to study. He had never done chores such as cleaning house or washing clothes.
He added that he could learn to do these things in the future.
However, putting things off until later has been troublesome for some excellent students.
Le Thanh Lan, Tu s mother, said that once she and his father had to go out of town suddenly and didn t leave much food in the kitchen. Unfortunately, Tu did not know where to buy food in his neighbourhood.
"The absence of social and life skills among students is due to the focus of schools and universities on improving student competence in the 10 key school subjects. Competency is evaluated by exams. It is common for teachers and society to place more value on students with competency in mathematics and literature, and for them to predict that these students would have a brighter future than those who excel at arts, sports, communications or other talents," said Dr Ho Thieu Tung, former director of HCM City s Education and Training Department.
Tung said that although no official survey had been conducted on the types of jobs students take after graduation, there was evidence that the ones who excelled at school usually become teachers or researchers.
"However, society needs more. A good football player or an artist could bring their country to the world. These are the types of students who are not always appreciated at schools," said Tung.
Experts agree that it s time for educators to change the way they orient their students toward the future by focusing not only on studies, but also by encouraging them to participate in social activities.
Bui Manh Nhi, head of the Personnel Department at the Mnistry of Education and Training , said that social and life skills played an important role in the future success of students. The ministry has plans to change its teaching and study programmes and methods to boost the active role of students by including more field trips, and social and life activities.
"If the schools or universities are unable to upgrade their offerings on their own, they should co-operate with each other to hold joint events, or ask for support from organisations and companies that market towards teenagers," said Dung.
"Each school should have an office where students can go for advice or guidance on their life, career or relationship. This is a good step-by-step way to help students develop the right orientation for their future," said Psychologist Nguyen Thi Thanh.
Phung Thi Nguyet Thu, deputy head of HCM City s Mac Dinh Chi High school, said that the activities could be as simple as school performances where students play games and compete against each other.
Based on the research, a picture book was published which guides students on the proper life attitude and career building methods. It is available free to students.
Tu said that he had been encouraged by his family and teachers to participate in more social activities, and that he would try to take part. VNS