“Swedish” Workshop in Hanoi About Corruption in Education

A Roundtable Workshop was held in Hanoi on 20 May under the theme “Corruption Perceptions and Impacts on Quality of Education in Vietnam: How to Improve Transparency and Accountability”. The Roundtable Workshop was organised as a preparation meeting for next week’s Anti-Corruption Dialogue.

Jointly organised by the Embassy of Sweden and Towards Transparency, Transparency International National Contact in Vietnam, the workshop drew about 100 participants, representing the Development Partners in Vietnam; the relevant agencies of the Government of Vietnam, including the Government Inspectorate, the Office of Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption and the Ministry of Education and Training; international and national NGOs; both public and private universities; the civil society and the media.

In her opening speech, Ms Marie Ottosson, the Minister and the Head of the Development Cooperation Section, Embassy of Sweden confirmed that joining efforts from all parties will help achieve results in fighting corruption. She said: “Corruption in education is affecting everyone and hampering the sustainable development of the country. Corruption in education creates threats to the quality of human resources. It is clear to all of us that Vietnam has been striving for high quality of education and training and highly-skilled labour for a knowledge-based economy in which creativity and innovation are the locomotive. And Vietnam can do that if education is free from corruption.”

The roundtable workshop was an open and informal forum for all parties concerned to brainstorm and discuss in depth at the technical level. Participants to the workshop agreed that so far there was few studies on corruption in education in Vietnam. However, the initial findings of two surveys, presented at the workshop proved that corruption does exit in the education system in Vietnam.

The Vice Minister of Education and Training of Vietnam, Mr Tran Quang Quy and his colleagues shared with the participants the Ministry’s efforts in its combat against corruption. Vice Minister Tran Quang Quy told the participants at the workshop:

“We recognised that there are different forms and risks of corruption in education and the Ministry never accepts any form of corruption. Therefore, the roundtable discussion is very useful for us. Ministry of Education and Training will try to work out some solutions to be presented at the coming Anti-corruption Dialogue.”

Participants to the workshop concluded that transparency, access to information and accountability are important factors, which help reduce corruption. The role of the media must be strengthened and a mechanism to protect the whistle blowers must be in place. The Government of Vietnam has issued many laws and regulations relating to fighting corruption and now it is high time to ensure law enforcement and the oversight role of the National Assembly.

The workshop agreed that fighting corruption in general and in the education system in particular is the challenge of the Government of Vietnam and is a concern of the international Development Partners. Anti-corruption in education is the responsibility of everyone. “No one has monopoly in anti-corruption.”, said Jairo Acuna-Alfaro, Policy Advisor from UNDP when wrapping up the discussion.

In her closing remarks, Ms Marie Ottosson said that the workshop created a  very interesting debate and generated useful inputs for the coming Anti-Corruption Dialogue. She concluded:

“The discussion proved that it is possible to fight corruption in education in Vietnam because no one wants to send his/her children to school to get half a lesson and then have to pay for the other half outside the classroom.”

The 7th Anti-Corruption Dialogue between the Government of Vietnam and the Development Partners with Sweden as the lead donor in anti-corruption will be held in Hanoi on 28 May with the theme: Corruption in Education in Vietnam.

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