The scarcity of qualified lecturers has resulted in low quality education and training in Viet Nam. Voice of Viet Nam spoke to Professor, Academician and People's Teacher Pham Minh Hac about the issue.
The number of universities and colleges has rapidly increased in recent years but there are only a few lecturers with high academic qualifications, who can cope with such an increase. What is your analysis on the situation?
It could be said that most associate professors and professors are working in Ha Noi, while there are not many in others provinces and cities. For example, the psychology faculty at a university in Ha Noi has nearly 20 professors and associate professors, but a similar faculty in HCM City University of Pedagogy just has one or two professors.
It is worse in colleges and universities located in remote provinces, such as Bac Lieu and Phu Yen, where the number of professors is less than 10. Viet Nam currently has more than 400 colleges and universities. Most of these, about 300, are located in Ha Noi.
This reflects the unequal distribution of highly qualified lecturers in the country. There is particularly a serious shortage of highly qualified lecturers in many localities.
With its total population of 90 million, Viet Nam has approximately 1.2 professors per 10,000 students. This includes the retired ones. About 5.6 per cent of university and college lecturers are professorsor associate professors, which implies there is one professor available for every 416 students.
What is your opinion of the unequal distribution of professors in Viet Nam?
Most colleges and junior colleges currently have to invite professors from others colleges to work on a short term basis of between one and four weeks to meet demand in the education and training sector and as a way to solve the problem of shortage of highly qualified lecturers. This has been recognised as the main reason for the low quality of education and training in most colleges and universities.
To overcome this situation, the Government needs to promulgate policies that prioritise granting incentives to professors, who are willing to work in remote and poor areas.
Moreover, the Ministry of Education and Training also needs to manage the allotment of professors with more flexibility and equality, particularly encouraging young professors, who are 45 to 50 years old to work in underprivilaged areas.
One of the most important conditions for becoming a professor is that candidates should have articles or projects published in prestigious international journals. What is your view on this?
In my opinion, it is essential that a research student, who wants to become a professor, should have articles printed in prestigious international journals. However, this is not as vital as the encouragement given to these students to contribute their mental capacities for national socio- economic development, particularly in the underprivileged poor areas.
Viet Nam is still a poor country with an annual average income per capital of just US$2,000.
Investment in domestic scientific development should be a major aim, instead of the focus on international prestige of researchers. Having published articles in international journals should not be the top priority, while according the title of professorship.
It is a matter of pride if a Vietnamese research project is published in a well-known international journal, it would be worse if such a project cannot be implemented and applied to real life.
Viet Nam presently has many scientific projects that are suffering from such a bad fate.
Many projects that used to be announced nationally and internationally had attracted the attention of a vast number of scientific researchers, but now no one is interested due to a lack of investment capital.
In my opinion, the most important task of the government is the management of scientific professors. The Government needs to provide further assistance, including boosting investment in scientific research, particularly for projects, whose findings can be implemented widely and contribute to national development. — VNS