HA NOI (VNS)— The reported VND34 trillion (US$1.6 billion) price tag for the Ministry of Education and Training's new textbook reform plan was an unfortunate mistake that caused misunderstanding among the public, said Minister Pham Vu Luan.
The cost, outlined by a representative from the ministry at a recent meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee, caused much public concern.
However, Luan said the amount was not listed on any document submitted by the ministry to the NA's Standing Committee meeting. Only the goals of the reform plan, performance and progress were presented and discussed, he said.
He explained on a weekly television programme People Ask and Ministers Answer last Sunday that the estimated budget of VND34trillion resulted from research by different groups of educational experts.
He said the experts proposed to use the budget not only for reforming textbook and education curricula, but also for retraining teaching staff, restructuring the teachers' training system and investing in new teaching and learning equipment.
They put the amount needed for the creation of new content for textbooks at around VND100 billion ($4.7 million).
Luan said the announcement on the budget was made while he was on a business trip overseas. A ministry representative mentioned the VND34 trillion while answering a question from NA deputies.
"We'll take responsibility for this mistake, however I want to repeat that the number is not on any papers submitted by us," he said.
He said that after the NA issued a decree on educational reform, the Prime Minister would announce the steps specific agencies needed to carry out.
The Ministry of Education and Training was expected to be assigned to work on building curricula and reforming textbooks, which would be then open for comment.