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Ministries merger in the spotlight

Hoang Ngoc Vinh, former director of the Department of Vocational Training, talks of the creation of the Ministry of Education-Science and Technology.

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Hoang Ngoc Vinh, former director of the Department of Vocational Training. — Photo baoquocte.vn

What do you think about the proposal to merge the Ministry of Education with the Ministry of Science and Technology?

Before designing a machine, the first thing we have to do is clarify its mission. The key mission for the establishment of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) was to cover social policies and employment. I think that the assignment to deal with occupational training for MOLISA was a bad call. Job creation evolves to meet the demands of the economy. However, in Vietnam, MOLISA’s key mission is to develop employment policies, issues relating to the social security and market information. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and the General Department of Vocational Training have been assigned two missions: to prepare human resources for the country and to oversee national education, from kindergarten to post graduate. Given the importance of this task, vocational education was transferred from MOLISA to MOET.

Some major Vietnamese research institutes are under the management of the Ministry of Science and Technology, yet their co-operation with universities remains very loose. This is a key reason why research institutes are not able to ask universities to share their human resources and abilities. Vice versa, universities are not able to make the best use of modern laboratories at many research institutes.

We are now in the age of the Industry 4.0, so it is good time for tertiary education and vocational training to re-organise their structures with fewer staff. This is food for thought for all agencies.

How do you respond to claims that say the Ministry of Education is already wearing too many hats?

I’m sorry to say that such thinking is out-dated. The management of general education has been assigned to all provincial education departments. The MOET is assigned to only perform tasks under State management in a certain field, including the educational development strategy, management and inspections. Vietnamese universities have started to enjoy self autonomy, and it is not the MOET’s task to interfere.

Do you think transferring training missions from the MOET to the Ministry of Science and Technology is sensible?

We should merge the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education and Training and the General Department of Vocational Training into one ministry under the name the Ministry of Education–Science and Technology. Why do I think that? Because the Vietnamese education system is strongly inter-linked from kindergarten to university. There is a loophole that needs to be closed to link schools with the labour market.

What will be the impacts of the transfer of educational training missions from MOET to Ministry of Science and Technology?

It is only a temporary policy. The most important point I want to emphasise here is how to generate co-ordination between schools, occupational training and tertiary education. If everything goes smoothly, the number of Vietnamese ministries will drop to 19 ministries as proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Right now, Vietnam has 22 ministries and ministerial level agencies. — VNS

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