Wednesday,  Jun 26, 2019,16:47 (GMT+7) 0 0
Legislation flaws
By Son Nguyen
Thursday,  Nov 1, 2018,21:29 (GMT+7)

Legislation flaws

By Son Nguyen

The intention was right when the Ministry of Education put forth a draft circular with an aim to amend prevailing regulations governing behaviors of students at pedagogy schools nationwide. The draft, intended for public comment until November 26, retains key contents of previous rules, but a provision regarding punishments against students engaging in sex work has backfired, arousing widespread criticism and indignation in the society, as seen in local media. Upon such angry feedback, the ministry quickly withdrew the draft this Monday, citing flaws in the preparatory process.

In the now-defunct draft, it is specified that students at teacher training colleges or universities would be reprimanded for the first time if caught for sex work, issued warnings for the second time, have their study suspended for a definite period for the third time, and have their schooling terminated for the fourth time. The draft was short-lived, as it was scrapped late on October 29 after the ministry had received numerous objections just hours after posting the draft on its website.

The draft circular specifies numerous punishable violations by future teachers, but all protests center on the regulation against prostitution among students.

While many deem it utterly unacceptable for prostitution among pedagogy students, and thus the tentative punishment contained in the draft is too lenient, others question the need to have such a rule by the ministry, saying it conflicts with many prevailing regulations and even goes against social norms.

Such a rule would imperceptibly allow students to provide sexual services as long as such acts are not known, or if their illegal acts did not exceed three times, says Lawyer Dang Van Cuong of Hanoi-based law firm Chinh Phap on news site Vietnamnet. “They could rest assured to continue their study to become teachers if their illegal acts were not established for more than three times,” he comments.

Many pedagogy students also protest the rule on this ground.

Le Mai, a student of the Education College under the Vietnam National University - Hanoi, says on the news site that when enrolling in a pedagogy school, the future teachers must accept the stringent social norms towards the profession regarding teachers’ ethics and dignity.

A mother with two children at an elementary school in Hanoi says on Vnexpress news website that it is unacceptable for students of pedagogy schools to engage in sex work. “Those who have engaged in sex work are not qualified to teach others. They could instill negative thoughts in children, or conduct sexual harassment,” she is quoted by the news site.

Bui Sy Loi, vice chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Social Affairs, ponders in Tuoi Tre newspaper why students could still be accepted after doing something illegal three times. “Their study should be terminated right away after a single time. That is a matter of principle,” he asserts in the newspaper.

Strangely enough, however, such regulations in the draft are not new, but already contained in previous rules, as revealed in local media. No public discourse against those provisions has been recorded though.

In as early as 2007, says Lao Dong, the Ministry of Education already issued similar punishments against students involved in sex rings. Decision No. 42 by the ministry provides that students at all tertiary education institutions – inclusive of pedagogy schools – shall be suspended for one year if found to provide sexual services, and kicked out of school for the repeated violation.

Then in 2016, Circular No. 10 by the ministry revised the punishments, which are exactly what are mentioned in the draft circular this week.

In reality, many institutions have referred to the 2016 circular to deal with violations by students. The list includes all schools under the Vietnam National University Hanoi, the Foreign Trade University, the National Economy University, and provincial universities of Thai Nguyen, Danang, and Hue, among others, according to Vnexpress. At Hanoi 2 Pedagogy University, the rules are even stricter, as violators will be suspended one year upon the first time, and have their schooling terminated for the second-time violation, says the news site.

Such media reports give a new twist to the controversy, as many point out that regulations against student sex workers should never be included in the draft circular.

Tran Hoang Hai, vice president of the HCMC Law University, says in Tuoi Tre that students are also citizens so they should be subject to common laws for all citizens. Any new regulations whether harsher or lighter are not necessary as such rules may contradict other prevailing ones, he comments.

Lawyer Hoang Van Huong of the Hanoi Bar Association agrees, saying students should be subject to other laws with the jurisdiction over the entire society. “I’m surprised to learn that the draft circular by the education ministry specifies violations already provided in other laws like the Penal Code and the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations,” he is quoted by Tuoi Tre. Lawyer Pham Hoai Nam of the HCMC Bar Association furthers that the draft circular overlaps other regulations provided by the Prostitution Prevention Ordinance and Decree 167/2013 of the Government on punishment against administrative violations.

In explaining why the draft circular was withdrawn, Deputy Minister of Education Nguyen Thi Nghia says on Dan Tri news website that the draft circular was prepared to replace prevailing ones which the ministry deemed no longer suitable, including provisions regarding students engaging in sex work. However, the drafting team at the ministry made a mistake when posting a draft that had not been properly updated.

Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha, at the NA question-and-answer session, admitted that the draft circular contained flaws, adding that such provisions should not even be included in the draft circular, according to Lao Dong.

“In reality, such regulations have already existed (in prevailing documents). When reviewing such rules, we (ministry leaders) demanded that all provisions that are no longer suitable must be dropped or amended, including this regulation (on student prostitutions). In my opinion, such regulations should not be included in the draft,” the minister is quoted by Lao Dong, answering an NA deputy.

The controversy over the draft circular has subsided since the ministry withdrew the draft and admitted flaws in the drafting process. However, such reckless legislative preparations reveal carelessness on the part of the ministry, says Pham Tat Thang, vice chair of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children.

“This is not the first time a legal document by the education ministry faced objections during the process of preparation,” says Thang in Nguoi Lao Dong. Though still a draft circular, it should be prudently considered and reviewed before being publicized on the ministry’s website, he remarks.

Share with your friends:         
Publication Permit No. 321/GP-BTTT issued on October 26, 2007
Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Pham Huu Chuong
Managing Editor: Nguyen Van Thang.
Assistant Managing Editor: Pham Dinh Dung.
Head Office: 35 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St., Dist.1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Tel: (84.28) 3829 5936; Fax: (84.28) 3829 4294.
All rights reserved.