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Cablegate: Vietnam: Ambassador's Call On the Minister Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001035

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV; EAP/PD ASESHADRI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ELAB KPAO KIRC VM ETMIN HIV AIDS
SUBJECT: VIETNAM: AMBASSADOR'S CALL ON THE MINISTER OF
EDUCATION AND TRAINING

1. SUMMARY: The Ambassador paid an introductory call April
26 on Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Minh Hien.
After expressing confidence that Vietnam would fully develop
its national educational system, Hien acknowledged that
Vietnam requires additional resources to raise its teaching
standards and to send more Vietnamese students overseas.
The Minister concurred that English is "imperative" for
integration into the world economy, and noted that Vietnam
needs materials and assistance to improve its teaching
methods. The Ambassador stressed heightened bilateral
cooperation in multiple fields and highlighted the successes
of the Fulbright Program, English Language Fellows, Mobile
Libraries and American Studies Collection. The Ambassador
also raised the issue of raising education levels for ethnic
minorities and asked that the Government of Vietnam consider
allowing religious institutions to operate in areas where
schools are lacking. END SUMMARY.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND DIPLOMATIC VOCABULARY
------------------------------------------

2. On April 26, the Ambassador, accompanied by CPAO and an
ECON officer (notetaker) made a courtesy call on Minister of
Education and Training (MOET) Nguyen Minh Hien. The
Ambassador highlighted the successes of the Fulbright
Program, English Language Fellows, Mobile Libraries and
American Studies Collection (Note: Vietnam does not approve
of the word "corner" as in "American Corners." Therefore,
we call them ASCs.) Noting that the Fulbright Program is
the highlight of the U.S.-Vietnamese education relationship,
he asked MOET to encourage applicants from second tier
universities rather than strictly limiting access to the
program to those from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The
Ambassador also stressed the growing importance of English
as the world's second language and the need to develop
further the English curriculum and to expose educators to
new teaching techniques. The Minister concurred that
English is "imperative" for integration into the world
economy, and emphasized that Vietnam needs materials and
assistance to improve its teaching methods. Many U.S.
educators and programs are willing to provide such
resources, including establishing American Studies
Collections around the country, but there is some local
resistance to the idea, the Ambassador commented. He
requested the Minister's help placing an American Studies
Collection in a university in northern Vietnam to provide
English materials and internet connectivity for students
seeking to study American culture.

PLACEMENT OF STUDENTS
---------------------

3. Expressing confidence that Vietnam would fully develop
its national educational system, Minister Hien acknowledged
that Vietnam would require additional resources to raise its
teaching standards and to send more Vietnamese students
overseas. The Ambassador noted that the U.S. Fulbright
Program in Vietnam is the largest in the world and that the
Vietnam Educational Foundation was also a great source for
scholarships for Vietnamese post-graduate students in the
sciences and engineering. Noting that most scholarships in
the United States come from private sources, he assured the
Minister that his Vietnam Mission Staff would help the
Ministry give guidance to students interested in pursuing
private scholarships. The Ambassador added that the U.S.
Government is working with the Ministry of Science and
Technology on how to establish Centers for Excellence that
would provide Vietnamese scholars with the tools and
resources to continue their technical education and research
in Vietnam.

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE
-------------------------

4. One way to improve Vietnam's educational system would be
to allow private education in schools and universities, the
Ambassador noted. While capable U.S. firms are willing to
teach English or computer science to Vietnamese students,
these firms cannot act until the Government has set clear
guidelines on how such enterprises should operate. The
Minister welcomed the Ambassador's suggestions and said that
"in coming years", education would be opened to private
competition. The Ambassador encouraged the MOET to take an
active role in educating Vietnamese young people about
HIV/AIDs and to continue collaborating with UNICEF and the
Ministry of Health on including a clear message about
HIV/AIDS in school curriculum. The Minister stated that
MOET takes HIV/AIDs education seriously and noted that MOET
has produced HIV/AIDs awareness pamphlets and other
literature for distribution in schools.

5. Commending Vietnam for its efforts at poverty
alleviation, the Ambassador called for greater educational
resources for Vietnam's minorities in the Central Highlands.
He suggested that the Ministry consider allowing religious
institutions to operate in these areas. The Minister
explained that the Government allows students to attend
classes in churches and pagodas as long as these
institutions follow the Vietnamese educational curriculum.
Hien added that the development of education in remote areas
was a "big policy initiative" for Vietnam and that the
Government was currently focused on both the quality of
education and quantity of educational institutions. Hien
said that the Government, with the National Assembly's
approval, was also focused on developing the country's basic
education system.

6. Commenting on the Ambassador's statement that the current
practice of having Vietnamese students only attend primary
school for half a day would have a long-term negative impact
on Vietnam, Hien agreed and claimed that Vietnam would
change to a full day's teaching in the future. The
Ambassador stressed the importance of further education for
all Vietnamese students and said that human resources
training would be the "decisive factor in predicting
Vietnam's future success". The Minister ended the meeting
by agreeing that it would be a "good idea" to celebrate the
10 year normalization between the two countries by hosting
an essay contest for Vietnamese students to further U.S.-
Vietnamese relations. Hien also said that he hopes that
education will be an issue that the Prime Minister would
discuss with U.S. government officials during his upcoming
trip to the United States.

MARINE

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