Life has advanced, but is education still in the same place?

The lagging behind, to some extent, means lack of advancement in education, especially slow progress in education reform.

When relating the story that 93,000 Vietnamese men joined and served the French army during the First World War (1914-1918), I heard different views about this.

Life has advanced, but is education still in the same place?

Some raised a question about why the government of Vietnam didn’t think of discussing with the French government Vietnam’s contribution to the French victory in the world war. If it had done this, the head of Vietnam State would have been invited to the celebration in Paris, standing on par with European countries’ heads and strengthening diplomatic relations with European countries.

Some others commented that the service of 93,000 Vietnamese people in the French army should not be recalled. At one time, the Vietnamese who collaborated with France were all considered betrayers.

They said Vietnam was once a colony of France and Vietnamese were forced to join the French army, which should be viewed as something to be ashamed about.

They are all right, because their thoughts fit the spirits they received from education or self-education.

The second view fits the lessons people were taught about the national resistance against the French colonialists, which said Vietnamese needed to recognize the enemy and the wrong acts of those who cooperated with French administration, cherish the hatred to create a driving force for the struggle for national independence.

Vietnam experienced a period of building a ‘new socialist man’, when patriotism meant love for socialism, and patriotism was identified with the class struggle. Therefore, this view about Vietnamese soldiers in the French army during World War 1 is clearly a product of a historic period.


Today, in the context of the market economy and globalization, universal values of humanity have more frequently been mentioned.

Vietnam has entered a new stage of development and the country has become a member of international treaties on human rights, environmental protection and social and cultural issues. The Party and State of Vietnam emphasize the motto of being friends with all countries. In such conditions, the reconsideration of historical facts is necessary.

Even the views and words used when talking about the South Vietnamese State Viet Nam Cong Hoa have also changed. And a new look, more open and scientific, is needed when considering the nation’s issues.

So, modern people, who are prepared to become ‘global citizens’ and adapt to the 4.0 Era, will keep the thoughts about their parents’ and grandparents’ serving in the World War 1 like the first view as mentioned above.

Germany, which triggered the world war and was defeated in the war, also sent representatives to Paris to attend the ceasefire celebration.

So, the pragmatic view is that today, French, German (and Vietnamese) states are not states of the 1914-1918 years, and it is impossible to cite history as an excuse to divide the nations. History should be used as a lesson to solve contemporary problems.

After all, the reason behind the existence of two opposite views which raise fierce arguments lies in education. Every period of development has its own educational principles and philosophy. And educational principles change more slowly than the advancement of life. 

Lan Anh

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