Leading Vietnamese mathematicians recently met to discuss the burning issues in math teaching and research in Vietnam.
Prof Ngo Bao Chau, a famous mathematician, and Fields medalist, expressed his concern about the decreased student interest in mathematics, which has led to a serious shortage of human resources for training.
Prof Ngo Bao Chau
Chau, who is now Science Director of the Vietnam Institute for Advanced Studies in Mathematics, or VIASM, stressed that it is necessary to rekindle the movement to learn mathematics among secondary and high school students.
“I have two thoughts. One, restore the movement to attend international competitions in mathematics, considering this a tool to encourage students to learn mathematics. Second, reconsider the method of teaching applied mathematics to secondary and high school students,” Chau said.
Prof Vu Ha Van, Science Director of Big Data Institute belonging to VIngroup, noted that many Vietnamese students no longer like to learn mathematics. There are a lot of excellent students in mathematics, but they do not want to study in Vietnam, but want to go abroad.
To settle the problem, according to Van, it’s necessary to answer the question ‘Why do you study math?’.
“Students nowadays are very practical. As study is very costly, students want to find jobs immediately after they finish school, because students from poor families need to earn money to pay debts,” Van explained.
As the Dean of Mathematics at the Hanoi University of Education, Prof Do Duc Thai expressed concern about the quality of math major graduates.
He noted that the quality of students has declined in the last five years. The thinking capacity of students is getting worse. The students' access to lectures is also bad.
“University students maintain study methods they followed when at high school. As a result, they don’t know how to take notes during lecture hours and their self-study capability has decreased,” he said.
According to Thai, even students at schools for the gifted are no longer as well trained as they were in the past.
“At general schools, students are given tips to deal with multiple-choice exam questions,” Thai said, adding that it is necessary to change this way of teaching and learning math at general school.
Exams are organized to create aspirations and encourage eagerness for learning, not to encourage students to obtain achievements at any cost.
Prof Ngo Viet Trung, former director of the Mathematics Institute, agrees that it is ‘dangerous’ to give multiple-choice math exam questions, affirming that this will cause students’ abilities to decline.
Mathéo Vergnolle, a 19-year-old French university student with great passion for mathematics, is working as a teacher in Vietnam.
Prof Dang Dinh Ang, an outstanding teacher who made a great contribution to the development of Vietnam’s mathematics, passed away on August 29 at the age of 94.