Thematic discussions
What is your vision for how innovation will contribute to the sustained growth in Vietnam over the next 20 years?

From March 11 to 25, Vietnamese and World Bank’s experts hosted a discussion on higher education and innovation – driving force for Vietnam’s development toward 2035.

International experiences show that innovation is critical to both growth and the concomitant creation of new and better jobs. More generally, both theory and history suggest that countries can have very different growth trajectories depending on their ability to identify and assimilate technological advances.

Over the past decades, Vietnam’s impressive growth has relied heavily on the accumulation of capital and labor. More people started working and companies invested in machinery and other capital. These gains cannot continue to grow as they have in the past. Future economic growth must rely increasingly on increasing productivity. The single most important driver of total factor productivity (TFP) as well as productivity in general is innovation, more specifically, technology-driven innovation. In agriculture, for example, R&D results applications have contributed up to 30% of growth in the the sector.

Boost innovation requires mobilizing financial sources and improving the performance of the national innovation system, or NIS. The NIS is made up of the firms, research institutes, universities, and public and private agencies that produce knowledge and research, advance technology or commercialize it. State budget remains the key source of investment in science, technology and innovation (STI), i.e. 65 – 70% of total social investment in STI, and yet STI expenditures account for 1.5% of total State budget. Industry does not invest in R&D in ways that optimize growth.

Human resources for STI – a key to the development of innovation – are scarce and often not of sufficient quality and relevance. The skills supplied through formal education and training are often out of date or too theoretical, and do not meet the demands of the labor market. In addition to financing constraints, the governance of higher education suffers from weaknesses in terms of information about skills needs and incentives for alignment. And there is a weak linkage between universities and institutes, between research institutes and the industry sector, poor quality of scientific research and social service providers, unsound policy and mechanisms, and weak structural system of human resource training.

Viet Nam’s business sector still accounts for a very small share of R&D expenditure. Few firms perform R&D, the overall level of innovation activity is low and links to public research are weak. Improving in-house innovation capabilities – which requires skills to engage in design, engineering, marketing, information technology and R&D – in a broad range of enterprises are an overarching priority. 

In the Vietnam 2035 Report, key areas of analytical questions for the chapter on science, technology and innovation include: 

  • What are the necessary reforms to the enterprise sector and its enabling environment (financial markets, business support services, intellectual property right protection) to improve technological absorptive capacity, the demand for innovation and the emergence of innovative firms?
  • What reforms are necessary to increase research productivity and effectiveness in universities and research institutes, and to increase the linkage between them and their linkages to the productive sector; and
  • How does the education system need to change to ensure it produces world-class human capital, especially for science, technology, management and entrepreneurship?

Thank you for sharing with us your opinions. What is your vision for how innovation will contribute to the sustained growth in Vietnam over the next 20 years and what are key factors to ensure the effective and dynamic NIS/ innovation systems for Vietnam? 

The experts participating in the discussion include Mr. Le Dinh Tien, Former Vice Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, Mr. Banh Tien Long, Former Vice Minister, Ministry of Education and Training, and Mr. Michael Crawford, Lead Education Specialist, and Mr. Suhas Parandekar, Senior Education Economist, in the World Bank’s Education Global Practice.

Please view questions and comments below.

Arnoud PJM Steeman - Address: Consultant in sustainable natural resource and protected area management Dong Hoi, Vietnam

I’d like to contribute to the discussion taking the comment on creativity referenced above as a starting point. I’m an expatriate living in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh province. My children, aged 8 and 10, attend a local, private primary school. Primary education is where, in my view, the basis is formed for learning attitudes later. Though I’m overall not unhappy with the quality of education provided by this school, I’m of the opinion that at this level creative and critical thinking is not stimulated or encouraged. Because of the language barrier, I cannot follow completely what happens at or through school. Nevertheless, I draw conclusions from observing how my children (and others) behave learning wise, for example through home work. It is my impression that primary school pupils are not stimulated or encouraged to work independently, to think for themselves, and thus allow creativity and critical learning to blossom. I have the impression that this is so even with the more “traditional” areas of creativity (drawing, dancing etc.), where performances seem to follow boilerplate patterns, rather than that teachers and pupils together are creative. If innovation through science and technology in later education stages is to follow, in order to sustain Vietnam’s socioeconomic development, I think that reevaluating education policies and teacher trainings should start at the primary school level. Perhaps aspects like group work, writing assignments and the like are instruments to address this. Perhaps less intuitively linked to innovation, I find that there is one big gap in what primary schools cover in terms of subjects. In general, nature and environment awareness is low in Vietnam. Nature and environment education is virtually non-existent in primary school education. Scientific and technological progress (and socioeconomic development) depend to a large extent on the interaction with natural processes. This should, however, be linked with - as a minimum - an awareness of the value of natural capital, and not only in monetary sense. I would like to see adoption of nature and environment in national curricula. In the context of this discussion it is to guide innovation later. But the benefits would go beyond that.


Expert answers:

Mr. Banh Tien Long replies:

I find that the comment on primary education by Arnoud PJM Steeman reflects partly the situation of education in Vietnam. Similar opinions were also reflected by educational managers, scientists, educators, parents and the mass media (See more at: "Teaching literature in schools: three joking stories", on Education section, Vietnamnet, dated 03.21.2015).

In the project "Comprehensive and fundamental innovation in education and training, 2013" by the Ministry of Education and Training, approved by Vietnam's National Assembly, it mentioned comprehensively the achievements and results, limitations and weaknesses, goals for basic and comprehensive innovation for education and training toward 2030, as long as tasks and solutions. For example, in the "limitations and weaknesses" part, it stated that "Vocational education has limited effectiveness. Majority of students are in short of vocational practice skills, language skills and social activities; lack of creative initiative, have limited capability to make use of knowledge in production and life; unable not adapt well into the rapid change of technology and labor market ... "," ...Content of education programs also disregard practice, knowledge application, and somehow isolated from reality, do not focus on moral education and civic responsibility. School education programs are with students. Methods of teaching and learning are slowly reformed. The one-way teaching method is still common, and does not really encourage positive, proactive, creative, self-learning ability of student. Educational activities are mainly taken place in school campuses ... ".In the Objectives part, it stated: "to educate Vietnamese people to develop comprehensively, love family, love their country, obtain basic skills and knowledge, own creative abilities to lead their own life, live well and work effectively - real knowledge, real vocation; to best develop potential of each individual; to positively contribute to the development of the country ... " .In the "Tasks and solutions” part, it indicated that: "... To improve the quality of comprehensive education, focus on moral education, lifestyle, skills, foreign languages ​​(mainly English), computer science, ability to practice and knowledge application into practice. To foster interest and ability to self-study for lifelong learning for each student ... ", " ... to change learning style from mainly listening and taking note to critical thinking and positive feedbacks among teachers and friends. To coordinate learning activities of individual and group. To change from mainly classroom to various forms of educational programs, with more social activities ... ".

In his comments Arnoud PJM Steeman wrote: "Creative thinking and critical thinking are not encouraged", "elementary students are not encouraged to work independently, self-thinking, which do not help creative thinking and academic development "," the subjects of nature and the environment get little attention in Vietnam "... I think they are all right and was generalized in the project.

The important issue here is how to implement specific tasks in reality. How to prepare programs, textbook, training for teachers, teaching and learning methods, etc ... These issues should be the state priority in the near future .

The point of view "primary education is to form fundamental knowledge and skills for good learning attitude later" and the suggestion "to include the subject of nature and the environment into national curricula",in my opinion, is a reasonable perspective and should be remarked. This is also a goal of "comprehensive education". However, the format of the course can be various. We can arrange it as an independent course , or to integrate into other subjects , or in the form of extracurricular activities, etc. This depends on study time of students and decided by educational management offices.

Triệu Thùy Lan - Address: ĐH Ngoại Thương Hà Nội

What is the meaning of institutional reforms in terms of changing the development situation of science and technology and innovation in Vietnam today? More specifically, what are necessary steps to improve the situation ?


Xuân Đông - Address: Học viện hành chính quốc gia

In 2012, the Government of Vietnam has approved the National Strategy for the Development of Science and Technology, in which they put science and technology development as a top priority of the country. In 2013, the Government continued to approve the scheme of technology commercialization as the model of Silicon Valley in Vietnam (Vietnam Silicon Valley). I would like to ask how the projects are now? What have they contributed to the society? Thank you very much.


Trần Hồng - Address: Cẩm Giàng, Hải Dương

In Vietnam, there is a conflict between the urgent need to invest in modern technology to keep up with global trends and to avoid lag, and limited financial capacity of the country. What does Vietnam need to to do settle this conflict?


Expert answers:

Mr. Suhas Parandekar replies:

Of course, any country faces choices regarding investments for development, and resources are never enough for any particular area - the more a society invests in human capital, say by investing in universities, the less resources it would have for infrastructure investments, such as ports, highways, and power plants. When a natural disaster hits, such as a typhoon or hurricane, can anyone say that the required humanitarian relief is not a priority ? I do not think that investments in modern technology faces a different set of rules.

A country can borrow external resources to meet current gaps, but it has to be careful that the resources are put to good use and that indeed result in future streams of earnings that will enable the debt to be paid off – profligate borrowing would be unwise, because of the inherent uncertainties regarding future revenue streams. And a given amount of resources is always associated with alternative levels of performance or output – economists speak of the "efficiency frontier”.

So the question really is how can Vietnam move closer to the efficiency frontier regarding its Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) investments ? Streamlining public bureaucracy, simplifying rules and encouraging greater role for the private sector to invest in research and development (R&D) are some ways to do this.

And there are some kind of urgent needs that tend also to last for a long time, meaning it is not the case that the problem will be solved with an urgent injection of resources, and then we can safely forget about the problem.

Education, in my view, is the central case of a ‘permanent urgency’ – a country needs smart men and women to make smart choices and develop smart products, and the foundations start early, in pre-school and primary education.

Việt Hà - Address: Đống Đa, Hà Nội

Science and Technology Law effective from 2014 stated that: In addition to the investment of state (minimum 2% of the total budget) (Article 49), businesses are forced to invest for R&D by their profit before tax. This is done by the establishment of scientific and technological development funds of enterprises (Article 55, 56). How are these articles being implemented? What is mornitering mechanism to ensure that businesses comply? What sanctions should be applied to deal with non-compliance. Or is it just the terms to "encourage" enterprises? Thank you.


Dương Vân Ngọc - Address: Cà Mau

According to the World Bank''s warning, Vietnam is in danger of falling into the middle-income trap. That happens when there is no development or scientific breakthrough technology, or productivity doesnot increase or the country can not producing competitive products compared to other countries. What is the experience that other countries who have gone through this development can be applied to Vietnam to develop science and technology, and avoid the middle income trap?


Expert answers:

Mr. Banh Tien Long replies:

I would like to leave this to more experienced international experts. In his report "Policies, mechanism and strategy of South Korea’s science and technology development: knowledge and experiences”, Prof. Kim Hungsun, Vice President, General Secretary of Asian Society of Scientific Research and Publications recounts development stages of South Korea and stressed different stages of STI development.

The world has seen major changes. South Korea has gone from an agrarian society to industrial society, information society and knowledge society. Likewise, products have gone from raw agricultural products to industrial product, informational products and knowledge products. South Korea’s per capital income was about USD 10,000 in the 1970s when the country started to build highways, high-tech parks and to restructure the economy. In the 1980s South Korea’s per capita income was USD 15,000 and the country was developing garment industry, electronics, steel industry, and oil refineries. In the 2000s the country’s per capita income was USD 20,000 and it developed semi-conductor industry, information technology, car industry, ship building; in 2014 South Korea’s per capita GDP was USD 26,205. The country’s light industry including food processing, beverage, tobacco, garment, leather, wood processing, paper, etc. has gone back between 1970 and 2010. Heavy and chemical industries have grown strongly, including: petrochemical, chemical, non-metal, steel industries, generator, electronics, precision equipment, transport manufacturing, etc. Several highlights of STI development include the establishment of Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST, 1966), Hyundai Heavy Industries (1972), Hyundai Motors (1974), Samsung (1983), international standard universities in the 1990s, etc. Between 1975 and 1995 South Korea has become leader in 30 export commodities. The country’s STI structure is very dynamic which can be divided into major phases such as 1960-1970; 1989-1990 and 2000-present. Changes take place at both macro and micro level with firms standing at the center of STI development. South Korea has gone through 7 republics of which the 3rd (1963-1972) and the 5th (1980-1987) are more noteworthy. The 7th republic began in 2013 and is continuing until today. South Korea pursued a "catch-up” strategy from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and switched to innovation strategy during the 1970s, 1980s, 2000s period. In other words, South Korea’s STI strategy in the 20th century was to imitate developed countries while its strategy in the 21st century is to build an advanced country. Key features of the 20th century strategy include imitation, investment in human resource and equipment, and the leading of role of the state; 21st century strategy is characterized by innovation, human creativity, investment in R&D, and a competitive system.

Mr. Suhas Parandekar replies:

Avoiding the middle income trap requires sustained growth of 8-10% over the next two decades. This is a very big ask. Essentially, what we are saying is that in 2050 or 2060, historians looking back at the past would conceive of Vietnam in the same way that towards the end of the twentieth century, people have looked back at examples such as Japan and Korea. If you are interested in really understanding the story of economic growth of successful countries, I would recommend to you to read the report of the Growth Commission ( , an undertaking that brought together policy makers, academics and business people from many of the successful examples. A key lesson is that there are multiple pathways to success – there is no algorithm of steps to follow that can be developed for Vietnam, but we know some of the ingredients, such as the ones I have highlighted in the answer to the previous question. In policy circles now, instead of speaking merely of science and technology (S&T), we speak of science, technology and innovation (STI) – Science and Technology (S&T) is not enough, the true objective is innovation, fuelled by science and technology. And indeed the STI engine, with an adequate transmission and steering mechanism, can drive Vietnam beyond the middle income trap. We don’t know yet if this is going to happen for real or would remain merely a dream – only time can tell. But if it would happen, I am pretty sure that the world will know a new model, a "Vietnamese model” of growth, quite different from the "Japanese model” or the "Chinese model.”

Dương Thu Hà - Address: Đại học Thái Nguyên

Experience shows that in a number of countries, research institutions or organizations can implement their studies ordered by the market. Do you think this may be an essential approach for VN? What the state needs to do to promote this mechanism?


Nam Trung - Address: Đại học Khoa học Huế

Despite of encouraging initiatives and world -class research done in a number of scientific institutions in Vietnam, the application of these technology in real life is still quite ineffective and low. What is the reason?


Expert answers:

Mr. Le Dinh Tien replies:

It is true that the results of scientific and technology research in our country nowadays are limited to put into practical use, however achievements of science and technology when applied successfully it bring the effective of social economic as as to improve productivity, quality, value-added and high competitiveness, creating jobs, environmental protection better. In some areas have application results and higt efficiency social ecnonomi such as agriculture, health, information technology, and several others. In agriculture through the creation and widespread application of new varieties, new farming techniques, plant and environment protection better, therefore cultivated area does not increase(decreases because land for urbanization, infrastructure, and increased industrial) but production of crops and livestock still increasing,contribute to increased exports, ensure food security. In health, many results of applied research employed a new method of treatment, used high-tech, produced basic types of vaccine production technologies, have contributed to ensuring better health and increasing the average life expectancy of people.

Why there are some good results of research applications of scientific and technology, but the others were limited?

First and most important thing is to have the market to create demand and motivation for the research and application of research results, therefore the research wants to be applied successful it must come from the needs of the market. This is clearly in agriculture and health,where the results research are closely to the needs of farmers and patients.

Second, must have business (seed companies) or professional organizations (extension system, hospital) continuation, development and applied research results. Some researchers have entrepreneurship had established businesses based on the technology to apply the research results, develop products to market and has successfully.

Third, the state should have the legal environment (legal protection of intellectual property rights, standards ...) mechanisms,policy support from investments technical infrastructure (equipment, laboratories, ...), funding for research, aplication deployment; and especially policies promote interaction between organizations, knowledge creation and dissemination, application of knowledge.

Finally, but has an important role are organization providing knowledge (research institutes, universities) and research staff, high qualified, real experiences, passionate and enthusiastic dedication to science and technology.

Enterprises, research institutes, universities, state agencies have closed relationships, interact with each other in a dynamic system as above, which is called the innovation system (included national innovation systerm, industry innovation systerm and regional innovaiton systerm. In developing countries this systerm work very efficient and dynamic), which,business have main role of innovation.

The reason some areas of agriculture, health, and also other sectors have many successful applications of science and technology because they had formed innovation system quite dynamic,linkage, effective interaction.

In our country, the innovation systems works are limited and ineffective is the major cause of limited application and contribution of science and technology and innovation for development of the country's social economic. One of the specific objectives of contents "science, technology, education and innovation” in "Vietnam Report 2035” is to find weaknesses, obstacles and challenges and provide policy solutions to enhance the innovation capacity of Vietnam as a motivation for the development of the country.

We look forward to receiving your suggestions, contributions to the above problems. /.

Việt Hưng - Address: Đan Phượng, Hà Nội

How do you think the development level of science, technology and innovation in Vietnam compared to the region and the world?


Expert answers:

Mr. Banh Tien Long replies:

In order to give a comprehensive and in-depth assessment we need more detailed analysis; we need evidence, data, regional and global comparative analysis; the assessment also need to be based on accurate scientific research and practical experiences, including experiences in managing science, technology and innovation (STI) activities. This is a huge task which is usually done by science and technology departments of universities, or relevant agencies of ministries and provinces. However, as a scientist and expert in the field I may provide my own view to contribute to our discussion. I would provide several observations and relevant supporting data. Of course, every other scientist and manager would have their own views, too.

Overall, big steps have been made in science and technology sector since the beginning of the reform in 1986. Science and technology have made its contribution to the country’s social - economic development, and more specifically to the GDP growth. New laws and regulations have been adopted resulting in improved environment. General awareness as well as scientific and technological applications have improved, especially in sectors such as agriculture, aquaculture, garment, etc. in which Vietnam has comparative advantages. You can see the trends in statistical data of relevant ministries such as MOET and MOST. For instance, the total number of PhD and Master Degree holders is 24,300 and 101,000 respectively at present. This is an increase of 11.6% per year as compared with 1996, of which the number of PhDs grew a 7% per year and the number of Masters grew another 11% per year. Between 1976 and 2014 a total 1,628 professors and 9,469 assistant professors have been nominated making a total 11,097 new professors and assistant professors; at the end of 2013 there was a total 84,109 teaching staff at universities and colleges, including 9,562 PhDs, 36,360 Masters, 298 professors, 2009 assistant professors, etc. among them. Vietnam is a world leader in rice, coffee, shrimp, fish, garment export, etc.

We must, however, admit that there are areas for improvement in STI sector; Vietnam is lagging far behind other nations, regionally and globally; STI is not yet a driving force of social - economic development. To cite a few specific areas: the quality of STI human resource is inappropriate and uneven; there is a serious lack of leading scientists, especially young talented and committed scientists; geographical and sector distribution of scientists is not adequate; STI investments remain insufficient; research facilities are insufficient, obsolete and poorly equipped; education and training system is not meeting demand for high quality human resources, especially in high-tech sectors. STI services, including information, consulting services for technology transfer, intellectual property services, and standardization and metrological services etc. remain weak both in terms of facilities and service provision. It is short of supporting the regional and international integration; the link between research institutions, universities and businesses is still missing. STI management and regulations rely primarily on administrative measures and reform in this field takes place at a slow pace; etc. In a nutshell, Vietnam’s STI sector is lagging far behind other countries in the region such as Singapore and Thailand, not to mention other countries in Asia and in the world.

I would like to provide some data for thoughts. According to reports announced the same day by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and INSEAD, Vietnam’s Global Innovation Index ranked 76/141; during the 5 year period (2006 - 2010) there were only 200 patents and utilities solutions granted by National Office for Intellectual Property (NIOP), and only 5 have been registered in the US, or one patent per year on average; in 2011, there was no Vietnamese patent registered in the US. If we look to other countries in South East Asian region we will see that Singapore (4.8 million people) registered 647 patents, Malaysia (27.9 million people) registered 161 patents, and Thailand (68.1 million people) registered 53 patents. Philippines, the closest match of Vietnam in terms of population and level of development, also registered 27 patents. And where are Vietnamese universities standing in the research ranking? Let’s compare leading Vietnamese universities with two leading Thai universities—Chulalongkorn and Mahidol. Chulalongkorn University is among the 200 leading international universities in 2005, 2007 and 2008 as ranked by THES (2008). There is no Vietnamese university in the 1,000 top universities of the world as ranked by all 3 most credible institutions—THES (Times Higher Education World University Rankings), QS World University Rankings and SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University). International publications of Vietnamese universities increased rapidly during recent years, and doubled during 2004-2008 period. But the average number of international publications per 1,000 population is still lower than Thailand (6.5 times) and Malaysia (9.5 times). The total number of international publications of 4 leading Vietnamese universities (Hanoi National University, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Hanoi National University of Education, and HCMC National University) together is only as big as that of Chulalongkorn University or Mahidol University (Thailand), which is about 500 per year. At the moment Vietnam has no internationally completive high-tech product name such as cars, air planes, ocean ships, electronic devices, steel, etc. There is a lot more data to substantiate the above.

Mr. Le Dinh Tien replies:

Comparing the levels of development of science, technology and innovation between countries, needing to use consistency of statistical indicators to measure, now for both input and output (Countries are using the statistical indicators system of the OECD or UNESCO). It is so difficult to compare because until now, in Vietnam the sicence, techonology and innovation statistical indicators system are very short and barely under the the criteria of the OECD or UNESCO (recently, there are just some research survey related to the Department of Science, Information Technology, Institute of Economic Management Central and International Organizations, the World Bank and OECD comply with criteria of the OECD)

The Strategy for science and technology development by 2010, aims to "by 2010 Vietnam Science and Technology Strategy reach the average advanced level in the region (mean ASEAN), however there are no specific evaluation for this implementation. The Strategy for science and technology development by 2020 also has aims to " By 2020, a number of Vietnam 's science and technology fields will reach the advanced and modern level of ASEAN region and that of the world " however it does not specify in any particular field. In some areas of application results and bring social and economic efficiency is high, such as agriculture, health, information technology, and a number of other other

Although no comprehensive study has been undertaken to compare the level of science, technology and innovation, in my point of view Vietnam may ranks above the average of the ASEAN group. For example, in science and technology research to compare the number of scientific issued in international journals as ISI, Vietnam jutt behind Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand (as table below. However comparing absolute numbers, the distance between us from those countries are very far (noted that Vietnam's population is much crowded than those countries). Regarding applied research and innovation in some areas such as agriculture, health and some other areas also have some achievements and have important contributions in used and widespread applications of new technology. In agriculture has contributed to increased productivity, quality, agricultural production, because of this Vietnam has become the country's largest agricultural exporter of the world (Agricultural scientists said that Vietnam is very successful in adaptive research and applied development of varieties new rice were studied at the International Rice Research Institute IRRI, while this institute in Philppine but Philippine still have to imported food). In Health the research and applied of research results have contributed significantly to improved health, increased people’s life expectancy. Even that patent number of Vietnam is quite low compared with the first group of 4-5 countries in ASEAN (I do not have specific figures to compare).

Comparison between the level of science, technology and innovation in periodic, regular is very important for the formulation and implementation strategies, science development policies, technology and innovation innovative to shorten the development gap between our country and other countries in regions and in and the world. This is an important task so the State should be more concerned, firstly need to invested in science, technology and innovation statistical systems as international standards, this is the premise basis for the strategic planning and national policies.

Văn Tiến - Address: Hà Đông, Hà Nội

Since several recent years, our country more and more emphasizes on attracting talents, enticing Vietnam scientists from abroad to serve the country. However, salaries and remuneration policies do not keep up with the "spirit of attracting talent”. When scientists have financial difficulties, they must work extra to take care of their life and families. We can not expect them to take time and enthusiasm for scientific research. I hope that wage policies and incentives will change so science and technology can develop to a new level .


Expert answers:

Mr. Suhas Parandekar replies:

In principle, there is some merit to the argument that higher remuneration could attract more Vietnamese scientists from abroad to conduct research in Vietnam. Actually, there is no reason why the choice set should be restricted to those of Vietnamese origin. Science is more and more an international endeavor, as people find new ways to cooperate and collaborate across international boundaries.

There are two reasons for this – first, some kind of scientific areas are linked inextricably with geography – if you are researching new varietals of tropical fruits, chances are that you will be more productive with a collaboration in a tropical country; second and perhaps more important is that science takes place in scientific communities, and well though these communities may span the globe, typically it is a small group of researchers working together on some super-specialized field that are the motors of scientific knowledge in that field. In this regard, as detailed in the recentOECD-WB Review of Science Technology and Innovation in Vietnam, Vietnam has got comparative advantage in a diverse range of scientific areas from the fields of mathematics and statistics, physics and astronomy and fisheries and forestry.

Perhaps more important than remuneration is the professional climate for scientific research and the access to instrumentation and modern technology that is the sine qua non of research projects. This is a good opportunity to generate awareness about theFIRST project of the Ministry of Science and Technology, that encourages foreign talent with grants provided by the government.

Arnoud Steeman - Address: Hai Thanh Ward, Dong Hoi, Quang Binh

I’d like to contribute to the discussion taking the comment on creativity referenced above as a starting point. I’m an expatriate living in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh province. My children, aged 8 and 10, attend a local, private primary school. Primary education is where, in my view, the basis is formed for learning attitudes later. Though I’m overall not unhappy with the quality of education provided by this school, I’m of the opinion that at this level creative and critical thinking is not stimulated or encouraged. Because of the language barrier, I cannot follow completely what happens at or through school. Nevertheless, I draw conclusions from observing how my children (and others) behave learning wise, for example through home work. It is my impression that primary school pupils are not stimulated or encouraged to work independently, to think for themselves, and thus allow creativity and critical learning to blossom. I have the impression that this is so even with the more "traditional” areas of creativity (drawing, dancing etc.), where performances seem to follow boilerplate patterns, rather than that teachers and pupils together are creative. If innovation through science and technology in later education stages is to follow, in order to sustain Vietnam’s socioeconomic development, I think that reevaluating education policies and teacher trainings should start at the primary school level. Perhaps aspects like group work, writing assignments and the like are instruments to address this. Perhaps less intuitively linked to innovation, I find that there is one big gap in what primary schools cover in terms of subjects. In general, nature and environment awareness is low in Vietnam. Nature and environment education is virtually non-existent in primary school education. Scientific and technological progress (and socioeconomic development) depend to a large extent on the interaction with natural processes. This should, however, be linked with - as a minimum - an awareness of the value of natural capital, and not only in monetary sense. I would like to see adoption of nature and environment in national curricula. In the context of this discussion it is to guide innovation later. But the benefits would go beyond that.


Nguyễn Đức - Address: Lâm Đồng

Schools, research institutes, and enterprises are the cradles of creativity and science. However, we should not forget that many "farmer” scientists have created many advanced products. Recently, via press, we know that "farmer" scientists are not encouraged, their works are not recognized, or even suppressed for " unsafe" reasons by authorities. 
I think, this is not just an unreasonable settlement, but also hinder creativity in people. This is the time for our scientists and authorities to appear, support, advice, and cooperate or commercialize if the product is potential. 
If scientific research is an isolated island of people with degree, while the inventions of normal individuals are really attached to their needs, I think the state policies to encourage the development of science and technology just do it half of their mission.


Expert answers:

Mr. Banh Tien Long replies:

I have also read the information as Nguyen Duc stated on a number of websites. First, I would like to confirm that scientific research can not be the "land of people who own degrees." Degrees are only minimum certification before scientists participate in the working process, before they are embedded in real working environment. From practice, innovations and new products are launched.

Japanese people have a very interesting saying: "New ideas – New products". Innovation can be in any working environment such as office, business, factory, field, rural, mountainous areas or remote islands,etc. Of course new products come along.

Therefore, the farmers can also "create many advanced products" for themselves and for others. In the next steps, they can commercialize their products. If there are any obstacles, which of course is wrong, it is the responsibility of local authorities.

However, many "farmer scientists" (as you call) do not have enough knowledge and conditions to continue to improve the product quality or commercialize them. It is the moment for scientists and local authorities to help, support, consult or collaborate to help "farmers” develop their innovative products. If necessary, we should arrange trainining classes to enhance their knowledge. At the same time we must create appropriate mechanisms and policies for their research. The policy of free vocational training to farmers under the project "Vocational training for rural labours towards 2020," of the government is performing this task. In three years (2010-2012) 1,086,979 rural workers benefited from vocational training support.

In this moment, the world’s science and technology is in its rapid development, scientific knowledge per time period increases exponentially. However, thanks to information technology and communications, all citizens can have access to scientific knowledge quickly and equality. Everyone can enjoy academic freedom, creative freedom, and freedom to spread their innovative products. In science, there must be cooperation and teamwork. Even the Nobel Prize-winning researches are often collective works. We must categorize different "class" of different products to make sure it requires what level of scientific knowledge to make it practical and feasible. We should also abide certain rules, including environmental protection rules. Otherwise, it's a big waste for individuals and society. The role of universities, research institutes, and enterprises are extremely important here. The linkages between them are the cradle of creativity. They are the most favorable combination of research, development, innovation and commercialization of products.

Dzung Nguyen

i believe that for Vietnam sustainable growth to be able being compared with other countries in SEA in the next 20 years,we definitely need to change people mindsets / ownership of each Vietnamese thru education programs/ public seminars/ posters/ media engage all vietnamese from their contribution/ participations and commitment in changing themselves for better behaviors/ performance/intergrity/ out of the box thinking......


Việt Nga - Address: Duy Tiên, Hà Nam

There was an endless policy discussion a few years ago. The Ministry of Finance said that scientists need to plan, explaining the cost for a specific research project, before asking funds from the state for research. Meanwhile, scientists believe that this is infeasible, or would be a great restriction for creativity. I would like to ask the experts, this issue is yet to be resolved, what is the best way to "untie" creativity? I thank you .


Trần Thanh Mai - Address: Nam Đàn, Nghệ An

I think that the current expenditures for science and technology are largely under state budget, and under the coordination of the Ministry of Finance, or in the orders of the state. This goes against policies of the developed countries, where universities, research institutes, and professors are self- operating and have their own decision on expenditures for scientific research. Their motivations are scientific achievements, and the ability to commercialize, but not a tick in their profile. I hope that the policy of science and technology will "liberate " scientists from financial constraints and limited topics from the state.


Expert answers:

Mr. Le Dinh Tien replies:

Thank you for the interest and comment, Ms. Tran Thanh Mai and Ms. Viet Nga. It is true that invtestment for science and technology (S&T) in Vietnam is mostly from state budget (about 2% of total state budget, accounting for approximately 65-70% of the national total expenditure for S&T. Enterprises and other sources account for about 30-35%). These expenditures are under the administration of the Ministry of Finance, and ordered by the state (whichs was stipulated in the State Budget Law and the Law on Science and Technology).

This is also common situation in other developing countries, when the economy is still in poor condition. While enterprise sector is too small to invest in science, technology and innovation, State budget is still the primary source for science and technology. Therefore, investment in science and technology is very limited in scope, and the state should focus on its priorities in the manner of orders.

Currently, Vietnam has issued a number of mechanisms and policies (National Fund for technological innovation, national programs, fund for the development of science and technology of enterprises, etc.) to encourage and support enterprises to conduct research and enhance application of science, technology and innovation to create products and services with added value and high competitiveness. In this way, the State will partly support the investment, the rest is the responsibility of the business sector. Thereby we can mobilize investments from more business for science and technology.

However, just as with your comment, financing mechanisms for Science and Technology research in Vietnam are still complex, tight and binding, and taking a lot of time and effort for the estimation, disbursement, settlement, which discourages scientists. This does not help promote creative energy.

Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance has adopted the new, simple and more convenient financial mechanism, together with internationally standardized regulations on governing research quality for National Fund of Science & Technology Development (NAFOSTED), which is supported and appreciated by many scientists.

Science and Technology Law enacted in 2013 regulates financial mechanism in the " fund type", applying to activities beyond the NAFOSTED. However, in practice there are some difficulties because of some non-consensus between the Law of Science and Technology with some current laws in general and especially the Law on State Budget.

The S&T research activities is typical creative work. Thus we need typical mechanisms to manag, which are consistent with international practice. Then creative energy, enthusiasm and contributions the creative people can be encouraged. This is the direction we need reform in the near future.

We are looking forward to more of your suggestions.

Nguyễn Hải Hà - Address: Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội

I think the root of innovation is education . If we assess capacity based on scores, rankings, and achievements; students must follow standard textbooks, or deviation from textbooks will be evaluated as false, then there can be no creative individuals at schools. In the absence of creative individuals, even if we invested in infrastructure, linkages between research institutions - schools – enterprises, we only solve the issues on the surface. I look forward to receiving your thoughts.


Expert answers:

Mr. Suhas Parandekar replies:

This comment is absolutely on the mark. We are living through a tremendous change in the manner in which ideas are generated, developed and disseminated and the ways that products are produced and consumed. Some people call it the "collaborative economy” or the "sharing economy”. In the realm of science and technology, with high connectivity and an increasing acceptance of the "open innovation” model, there are more and newer ways for an individual or a small group to access knowledge and know-how from other people, build on that knowledge, and contribute their own ideas.

Websites like and do not know international borders and do not require institutional affiliations of contributors. Forums like are developed precisely for grassroots level innovations.

The concept of collaboration includes so-called citizen science, where any interested person can participate. Amongst the most famous in this arena two that are great for learning value and sheer entertainment include the classification of galaxies: and folding of proteins:

The ‘maker movement’ is set to bring to the real world of products, the benefits of standardization of software that makes possible the internet and our communication of ideas through this forum. With access to a 3D printer, the price of which is falling by orders of magnitude within just 2-3 years, you can look for a design of something you want to make at many websites such as and get further help how to put things together:

With products designed, innovators can seek funding from crowdsourcing websites like kickstarterandindiegogo. Highly innovative models now are thriving that provide support to start-up entrepreneurs - and are becoming increasingly more influential. Apopular hub for early stage entrepreneursalso has a presence in Vietnam - the Vietnam Silicon Valley project.

With regard to safety and other related issues of public interest, the new technologies offer opportunities at the same time as they come with risks. Large or established corporations have reputations and businesses to protect, and it is generally easier for them to comply with existing regulations, let’s say to prevent environmental hazards. However, even your "farmer scientist” needs to abide by the regulations – the challenge for public policy is to help him or her navigate the regulatory process.

Mr. Banh Tien Long replies:

I agree with you that "the roots of innovation is education". UNESCO, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, has announced the purposes of education: "learn to know, learn to work, learn to be, learn to live together". Therefore, education is root of innovation. Education is the start of creativity. It is to equip learners with basic knowledge. Universities’ graduates should not only find jobs, but also create jobs. In the market economy, high quality human resources have created a lot of jobs for the society. In developed countries, a large percentage of GDP comes from universities, libraries, and laboratories, where always exist innovations.

The assessment of students’ learning capacity through scores only, as you mentioned "only based on scores, rankings, achievements and students must follow the standard textbooks", is wrong. This is just one component of the assessment of learning results for an individual. This also applies to many countries in the world. However, the capacity assessment should be comprehensive, and be a combination of different methods, not only based on scores and rankings. Many scientists and successful businesspersons did not have high scores at school. Therefore, the science of assessment in pedagogy is researched very carefully. Depending on different levels education, study time, and environment, etc. we establish a standardized and realistic assessment methodology. Nowadays, Vietnam is gradually approaching other developed countries in the field of assessment.

Curricula and textbooks are only orientation or basic knowledge to provide information to learners. Therefore, "deviation from the textbook will be evaluated as false" is absolutely incorrect. If so, how can we have creativity and innovation. The higher level of the education is, the more creativity is needed. However, in order to assess the effectiveness of creativity it requires a higher quality of the evaluator, or to complicated issues, it needs scientific committee reviews. The creation or invention of society is a collection of individuals. In my opinion, innovation is development.


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