Theoretical staff training: Reality and solutions
2/5/2018 14:18' Send story Print story

Prior to the foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Ai Quoc paid much attention to theoretical training for revolutionary cadres. During the following years, the party itself has always been attaching special importance to training and consolidating theory for its staff and party members.

The Party Central Committee and Government assign the task of training researchers and lecturers (hereinafter referred to as theoretical cadres) with Marxism, Leninism, Ho Chi Minh's thoughts and general political theories to a number of institutes, universities and specialized institutions, among which the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics is a national center with the leading role and position, monitoring the teaching content and training methods.

Practices of implementing this important duty bring about the following achievements:

First, the Party Central Committee, especially  the Politburo, the Secretariat and the Government have taken frequent notice to theoretical training by promulgating resolutions, decrees and policies on theoretical work, creating favorable conditions for exercising the task of training theoretical cadres in the new context.

Second, a good number of theoretical cadres have been trained in bachelor, master and doctorate programs in dialectical materialism and historical materialism, political economics, scientific communism; Ho Chi Minh Thoughts; Party History; Party Development, political science and other fields related to the Party's guidelines and strategies. They form a diversified group of age, profession and specialization. While many are directly engaged in researching and teaching theories, others work in consultancy or management agencies for the Party, State, socio-political organizations and large enterprises.

Third, training quality has been improved in some aspects as seen in their ability to meet the requirement of theoretical task. In order to overcome the socio-economic crisis, to protect and to innovate the socialist regime through difficulties and challenges during the 80s and 90s, Vietnamese theoretical thinking has made significant breakthrough by constantly adjusting and sticking to characteristics of the country as well as the mainstream trends in the world. It actively and promptly provided scientific and practical evidences for the Party and State to outline policies and strategies for cultural socio-economic development,  national defense, security and foreign relations... Compared to the previous years when the number of theoretical cadres nationwide was limited in number and inadequate in quality, we have now made a remarkable progress, which confirms Party’s ideological foundation and serves as a benchmark thinking for building and defending the socialist republic of Vietnam.

Fourth, theoretical training institutes have made great efforts to simultaneously ensure scientific and party features, academic quality and political requirements in the program content and throughout the training process. As a result, theoretical training has constantly expanded its scale. A variety of new theoretical and practical issues are studied, summarized and included in teaching and researching content. A vast majority of the country's theoretical staff are regarded as soldiers on the ideological front to strive for the Party's goals, ideals and guidelines, protecting the sole leadership of the Party and defending socialism.

Fifth, a strong system of institutions has been established, including the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics along with its five affiliated institutes, the Political Academy under Ministry of Defense; the Political Academy under Ministry of Public Security; Institute of Social Sciences at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences; University Social Sciences and Humanities at Vietnam National Universities, Hanoi University of Education and some other universities. thousands of bachelors, masters on political theories are educated at these institutions annually. An increasing number of experts, mostly masters and doctors in political science graduated from universities around the world, mostly from developed countries.

With these achievements over the past years, the Party and the country have enlarged the team of theoretical cadres in all fields, who are trained in professional expertise, academic content, political knowledge and ideologies. They worked hard and became mature through theoretical and practical activities, making worthy contribution to the process of renewal of the Party's theoretical thinking, persistently developing Marxism and Leninism in the new context, contributing to the national historic achievements after more than 30 years of renovation.

Nevertheless, the training of theoretical staff still faces some limitations, weaknesses and difficulties.

Firstly, the quality of training has not met the fundamental, immediate and long-lasting demand of national reform, national defense, national renovation and construction. Consequently, most of theoretical tasks are basically completed but with low quality while some of them are "delayed, postponed” and prolonged to be resolved. The 9th Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam clearly stated: "Inadequate summary of practical and theoretical studies leads to the fact that several issues in the renovation process have not been clarified to give guidance for reality and to provide scientific basis for outlining the Party's guidelines, policies and State’s laws. Some theoretical matters of socialism and the path to socialism are necessary to be clarified by summarizing practical and theoretical studies".

This limitation results from inappropriate content of theoretical training programs. The teaching staff at theoretical academies are not really “virtuous” and "professional" when training members of the Party and for the Party. Other important factors include: the low entry requirements for university students majoring at theoretical disciplines compared to other fields; the illegitimate motivation of post-graduates and doctoral students when studying theoretical subjects; unreasonable policies for theoretical cadres...

Secondly, there exists both paradoxical redundancy and shortage of theoretical staff because of improper structure of training disciplines. Documents of the 12th Party Congress stated: "The system of training programs to foster political theory is still irrational, combined with backward methods of teaching and learning political theories". Some related subjects to political theories such as state and law, economic management, public policy... are overloaded with students, whereas "genuine" political theory disciplines such as philosophy, social science, political economy, history and theories of international communist workers, which are specially important to revolutionary causes, do not attract enough students. There are various causes for this paradox, but the most emergent is that we do not have the specific policy necessary for the training of these particular theoretical disciplines.

Thirdly, if the depreciation of Marxism, Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's ideology and the poor, delayed and superficial application of practical summaries, theoretical knowledge cannot be solved, it will create a danger for the training of our theoretical staff. Reading classic works, which was a regular activity in previous generation, is now popular only among a minority of the students who follow theoretical disciplines. Additionally, our academic staff approach world-temporary theoretical issues rather late, indirectly, unsystematically, unselectively and uncritically. One major excuse is that they lack foreign language skills and have no relations with well-known academic institutions and leading scientists in the world.

Fourthly, institutions for theoretical training of the Party and State are currently quite diversified but not yet specialized as they have to carry out overlapping tasks and majors. While their strengths have not been promoted, they have to face with increasingly unhealthy competition. Accordingly, lots of academies underestimate the quality of training students and theoretical staff, racing for bulk, revenue and income, etc. Every year they produce a cohort of bachelors, masters and doctors who are alike in terms of expertise, strength and weakness. More and more PhDs do not do any theoretical work, more associate professors and professors do not involve in any theoretical teaching.

President Ho Chi Minh repeatedly instructed that cadres are the "roots" of all work. In that sense, the theoretical cadres are the "roots" of the Party’s ideological cause.  For the "roots" to become strong, the following solutions are proposed to improve the quality of training theoretical cadres:

First of all, it is necessary to review, amend, renew the content and promulgate a unified theoretical training program for universities and institutes nationwide. The situation in which each school, even each faculty has its own program should be terminated. In the short term, focus should be on the subjects of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, political economics, communist science; Ho Chi Minh Thought; Party History; and Party Development. Unified and standardized content of the training programs is the principal premise for the consolidation of theoretical awareness and thought in the Party and the whole society.  It is also a useful element to prevent and overcome expressions of "self-evolution" or "self-transformation".

Second, training facilities ought to be reorganized and restructured based on its tasks, functions and advantages as many academics now are conducting the same theoretical disciplines. There should be special guidelines for certain subjects which are indispensable for the Party’s ideological work but it is hard to attract students.

Third, it is essential that specific training system is set up along with regular retraining, fostering and updating knowledge for theoretical staff, especially those who directly teach and study theories. Drawing from previously valuable experience, the Party and State should direct the scheme of training theoretical staff, including training of theoretical lecturers to meet new requirements. Theoretical knowledge in this era is updated so quickly and regularly that the staff must be ready for prompt acquisition. In this way, it is urgent to teach them foreign languages and skills in using modern technologies.

V.I.Lenin confirmed that only the revolutionary party who is equipped with pioneering theory can fulfill the avant-garde mission. The hugely important task always needs wisdom and responsibility of the entire Party and each of us as the soldier in the ideology front. This article is based mainly on practical activities at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and expressed in the spirit of scientific truth./.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Viet Thao, Vice President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics


The paper was presented at the fourth session of the Central Theoretical Council, Hanoi, 23/12/2017.

Translator: Nguyen Thi Viet Nga/ Proofreader: Vu Thanh Van


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