Luu Vinh Trinh is an 18-year-old student, born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, with a dream of becoming an English teacher. Trinh and one million other students across Vietnam just completed the final high school graduation exam this July. After spending 12 years in school, Trinh and her friends have observed many issues that could be addressed to improve the quality of education in Vietnam.
“My mum half-jokingly told me: ‘You always complain and whine about issues at school, why don’t you share your ideas with others when an opportunity arises?’” Trinh said. She decided to participate in the essay competition “Aspirations for Vietnam for the next 20 years”. It took Trinh a week to write her essay and she was very surprised when she was told that the shortlisting panel loved her ideas. She won the 3rd prize for the under-30-years-old category.
“In 20 years, the Vietnamese people will study in one of the best education systems. With it, we will fully harness our independence, creativity and control over our studies. We will become dynamic, enterprising people who will decide our own lives, bursting with energy and ambition to express ourselves, and carve out fruitful careers,” Trinh wrote in her essay. Education is a hot topic in Vietnam and it was the focus of 10% of the 589 essays submitted.
Trinh hopes the curricula will be redesigned to boost practicality and reduce purely academic learning; that the quality of teachers will be improved and the lectures designed around themes. She suggests that students should be able to cast a vote of confidence in their teachers and that English teaching be more effective and be of better quality. “In terms of teaching methodology, the education ministry should make reforms that allow students to take their own initiative and avoid imposing their will on students”.
“I’m very happy that young people are writing well. They are thinking about development and have passion; they are not ignorant,” an editor at Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper told us. She was in charge of receiving all the submitted essays from 468 participants between 15 and 90 years old. The competition was co-organized by the Tuoi Tre Newspaper and The World Bank in Vietnam.
Twenty years ago, Vietnam was at the early stage of “doi moi” (renovation). People were thinking about having good jobs, economic opportunities and international integration. Two decades have passed and besides economic development, the Vietnamese people are now focusing on environmental issues, inequality, national agricultural brands in foreign markets, and the quality of research in the East Sea. The Vietnamese people’s aspirations include a competitive human resources system, better quality of life, an empowered youth and a greener country.
“My dream is that in the next 20 years…cities will not only look gorgeous and civilized with modern skyscrapers and neat pavements, but will also be friendly and compassionate humanitarian. There, the underprivileged and migrant workers will be able to make a proper living with stable jobs and decent accommodations,” wrote 37-year-old architect Le Cong Sy.
“Is it fair that (migrant workers), who toil to produce the most for the country, benefit so little from society, including such basic needs as accommodation and meals?,” wrote Thu Phan from Dong Nai province which hosts a number of factories with a large number of migrant workers. Recently, Dong Nai province introduced a new policy aimed at providing accommodation for workers by encouraging businesses to build cheap, not-for-profit houses for their workers.
Song Phương used a romantic approach for her aspiration: “Kids will then be educated to treasure each seed of life, to keep the air fresh and clean and to live with nature...Parents will know their children better when they plant a tree together. The youth will live ‘slower’ to savor when the trees change their leaves to autumn colors.” Song Phuong’s aspiration comes from an ongoing experiment that she’s doing with her family and a plan to make the industrial park where she’s working a greener place. Song Phuong was stunned when the panel announced that she won the first prize for the above 30-year-old category.
The first prize for the under 30-year-old category was given to Le Hong Man for the essay “A young generation who is allowed to make their own decision”. The young mother’s confidence and her story on how to empower children have moved and convinced the jury panel.
The competition is meaningful!
The announcement of the results of the competition is not the end of the process, but just the beginning. The beginning of a process to unite our actions and help turn aspirations of the Vietnamese people into reality by 2035.
Vietnam in 20 years: Visions and Solutions from Citizens