© Vietnamica.net | March 24, 2011 — In the past Vietnam was proud of its high literacy (over 92% of population) and functioning education system, which was free, adequately invested and capable of producing good crops of talented people, such as Dr. Hoang Tuy (Vietnam Institute of Mathematics) – a worldclass mathematician, who helped found the mathematics branch of global optimization, Dr. Nguyen Van Hieu (Vietnam National University at Hanoi) – famous Russian-trained physicist, Dr. Ngo Bao Chau (University of Chicago) – a well known mathetician with Fields Medal 2010, etc. Now this education system faces real problems and has significantly deteriorated.
In the eye of Hoang Tuy, the bottleneck of Vietnam’s long-term development is education itself. (Tuần Việt Nam, Mar. 24, 2011) He calls for a thorough education reform, which could enable the country to revamp the overall education system, and to significantly improve education quality, which the Vietnamese government failed to deliver over the past 15 years since the 2nd Plenary Session of the VIIIth Party Tenure in 1996. This reform should address serious problems that have undermined the Vietnamese educational system over the past two decades, namely: (i) Waste of resources and corruption; (ii) Inappropriate pedagogical methods, which obscure the meaning of education to socio-economic development and cause financial burden to the society; (iii) Troublesome examination system which sputters the huge need for extra learning; (iv) Poor quality higher education, producing unskilled graduates with out-of-date working knowledge and incapability of finding jobs.
Vietnam has not yet installed in place a functioning accreditation mechanism, although late last year its Ministry of Education and Training even planned to formalize the establishing and operating of privately held accrediting agencies (Lao Động Newspaper, Dec. 8, 2010 ) and before that had approved a plan for setting the national accrediting council aiming to improve the education system (Lao Động Newspaper, Sept. 24, 2010).
Although the scarcity of funds has repeatedly cited as major reason for slow pace of education improvement, Vietnam’s leading researchers have remained skeptic of this argument. In Dec. 2010, the World Bank announced to continue its funding scheme “Higher Education Development Policy Program,” with an additional amount of US$50 million for the second operation, and more funding is already committed (World Bank, Dec. 2, 2010).