25 years in Vietnam: the story so far ...

Page 1



the story so far‌

I’m delighted to introduce

In Vietnam, perhaps more than in any other

collaboration in the arts, education, and

this collection of stories

country, we can see incredible change since

languages, and of partnerships between

and lives, a collection

1993. The Đổi Mới reforms launched in the

our people and our institutions – to build

mid-1980s have driven development in

trust, create opportunities, and to engender

Vietnam at an incredible pace, with

a friendly knowledge and understanding

GDP per capita increasing by almost

between the UK and Vietnam.

which covers the 25 years of the British Council’s

500 per cent since 1993, and average

engagement in Vietnam.

GDP growth of over 6.8 per cent per

The publication is also a forward looking

year – one of the fastest and longest

light, and a beacon for the next 25 years

sustained periods of successful growth

and beyond. We look forward to sharing

Much has changed in the last 25 years.

in world history. There is now almost

that journey with all our friends, partners,

In 1993, when the British Council was

universal literacy, and the number of higher

colleagues, and stakeholders in the UK and

established in Vietnam, the World Wide Web

education institutions has quadrupled

Vietnam for many more years to come.

was just being born at CERN, and there were

from around 100 in 1993 to over 400 in

only 34 million mobile phone subscribers

2018. Vietnam is now one of the most

I hope you enjoy and are

worldwide, over half of whom were in

dynamic, vibrant, and creative countries

inspired by the stories.

America. The European Union was officially

in the world, and the British Council is

founded with the Maastricht Treaty coming

proud to have supported and worked

into force, and Vietnam was yet to join

alongside Vietnam through this period.

ASEAN. There was a sense of order across the world, as the recent end to the Cold

The period has also seen ever stronger

War led to greater stability in many regions.

ties between our countries, ties that have

There was no Google, no Facebook, and the

grown and deepened dramatically in the

world’s population stood at about 4.3 billion.

last few years with the first ever visit of a sitting UK Prime Minister and reciprocal

In 2018, we face a very different world,

visit to the UK by the Vietnamese Prime

where over 5 billion global citizens are

Minister. Trade between the two countries

connected through the internet, and

is growing faster than between the UK and

7.1 billion have mobile phones. The

any other country in Asia, and the cultural

global order is being challenged from

and educational links through our arts

many sides, and while the EU faces

organisations and our education institutions

the prospect of the UK’s exit in 2019, a

grow stronger and more plentiful every year.

stronger and more confident ASEAN of 10 countries increases cooperation. The

This publication brings together stories of

world’s population has almost doubled in

the impact of cultural relations between

the last 25 years, as it now approaches 8

our two countries since 1993. It tells

billion, and people around the world have

the stories of those who have worked

become more conscious of environmental

to bring our countries closer, and those

and social challenges that affect us all.

who have benefited from the impact of that work. It highlights the power of cultural relations – of cooperation and

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Donna McGowan Country Director Hanoi, November 2018

Cooperation in education and science

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

On the path to economic prosperity, education paved the way Prof Pham Minh Hac Professor Pham Minh Hac was a trailblazer, representing the Vietnamese Government in work with the British

industrialised one. My thinking as a public official helping the government and MOET with this transition, was that international exchanges were vital. I spent two years studying at Lenin University of Education and four years in Lomonosov University,

Council, when it first opened to Vietnam

majoring in psychology. That’s how I learnt about the history

in 1993, as the first Deputy Minister of

UK, Russia the USA, and Germany. The UK has long education

the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET). He was delighted to share that his two grandchildren were studying

of education worldwide, with a focus on countries such as the history in comparison with other countries. Top UK universities are also world leading ones with hundreds of years of history.” He continued: “Looking back at the British Council’s entry into Vietnam, the period 1975-1995 was no time for an open-door policy,

in the UK, one pursuing a Master’s

as it was a time of American sanctions against Vietnam. The Soviet

degree, and the other studying A-levels

for other Eastern European countries. At that time, Vietnam had no

with plans to attend university.

having Vietnamese nationals travel abroad or foreigners coming

Union had collapsed in 1991, with regimes falling earlier in 1989 relationships with the USA or other Western countries. In education, here to explore local opportunities was very difficult. However as

Professor Pham Minh Hac (*) played an important role in paving

I was an expert in my line of work, I was invited to the USA in 1992

the way for the inception of the British Council in Vietnam.

to talk. Nearly a year later, the UK’s Ministry of Education reached out and invited me over there to discuss education policy. After

He described the context of Vietnam at that time: “When I was

that, the British Embassy proposed opening a British Council office

assigned by the government to work with the British Council, I

in Hanoi. I was its primary contact and I supported the idea.”

knew that Vietnam was lagging behind other countries, having just emerged from the longest period of war in the 20th century

When Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher and

(30 years) and very much at the beginning of its economic

Secondary Technical Education were merging at that time, I was

transition from a small-scale production economy to a modern

appointed by the government as the new ministry’s first Deputy



The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Minister. On the political side, I was still serving as a Central Communist Party Committee member. When news came from the British Embassy that the UK wanted a British Council office opened in Hanoi, I was sent by the government to establish contacts with the embassy. We were tasked by the government to pave the way for the British Council to officially open in Vietnam. Professor Pham Minh Hac was invited by the UK ambassador at that time to a networking event with the first public officers to study in the UK under short-term and long-term scholarship programmes, many of whom have subsequently taken in charge of important leadership positions. He recalled the UK ambassador had visited his house and had a warm meal with his family. He still remembered the farewell party of the British Council’s Country Director in 1996, when Ms Muriel Kirton had to finish her term early because of health issues. Those warm memories created deep impressions on him of the close cooperation with the UK and British Council. He is delighted that cooperation with the British Council has brought great results to date. Education cooperation between the British Council and Vietnam in all fields initiated by the British Council has developed with remarkable progress in the past few years. “Even though there were only few Vietnamese students studying in the UK back then, there are thousands every year now,” he said. Professor Pham Minh Hac holds a doctorate in psychology from Russia’s Lomonosov University, is a professor, People’s Educator, former Vice Minister of Education and Training (1990-1996), and former head of the Education Science Institute (1981-1987).

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

I am delighted that cooperation with the British Council has developed to the level we find it today.

2001 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

My undying love for Britain Tran Ba Viet Dung It is hard to tell the difference between

Where the love started

Britain and the British Council in this

In 1978, Tran Ba Viet Dung – a young English teacher of the

story, given the deep-seated affection

to attend a graduate advanced English teaching class at Ealing

Foreign Trade University – won a British Government’s scholarship

Tran Ba Viet Dung, former head of the

College of Higher Education, London. The course took place in

International Cooperation Department,

Dung and his friends lived with a British family, spoke the ‘real’

Ministry of Education and Training and executive member of the Vietnam–UK Friendship Association has for this foggy

Scotland and then London. What was special about the class was English, ate the meals cooked by the homeowner and played with their two young girls. In 1992, Dung had an opportunity to return to Britain in another graduate scholarship programme on Developmental Economics (sponsored by British Petroleum and the British Government) at Manchester University. He and a friend

country. This is a country he dearly

who studied with him in Britain were determined to find the family

loves – the culture, people, knowledge

up, they found the family’s new address. The two men travelled

and educational partnerships. This love

that now moved to Warrick and spent a whole day with them.

who took them in. After so many failed attempts they almost gave from Manchester to a place near London to see the British family

comes from his early days as a young

Fifteen years had passed and the two daughters, now grown young

guest student until he was appointed to

arms like flying planes and hollered: “Let me fly to Vietnam so I

management positions at the ministry, all the way to present when he retired. Everybody in his family (himself, his

women, still remembered their Vietnamese friends, opened their can see your parents!” The memories of the two study tours grew into their love for the country and everything that belongs to it.

Knowledge, opportunity and cooperation

wife and two sons) studied in Britain.

In addition to getting in contact with the British people and culture,

Viet Anh (which stands for Vietnam and

in his first tour Dung also got to know world-famous language

UK) is even his second son’s name.

teachers, had his teaching methodology honed for listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and learning in teams. Young guest students back in these years gave Vietnam a springboard for

2018 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Britain is my second home.

teaching and learning foreign languages in such colleges as the

One of the many British Council activities he highly valued was

Foreign Trade University, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, University

the annual Going Global1 educational convention, where people

of Languages and International Studies and others. “Many of my

interested in education gather. “I still remember the conference

friends and students are very successful now,” Dung said proudly.

in Florida in 2014 under the theme of “Innovation, Implications and Opportunities for All”, a massive gathering that rallied many

In his second study tour, the developmental economics class

educators from all over the world to share education trends and

helped Dung update his specialist English in foreign trade,

current issues. This was a useful event to learn international

import and export, customs, finance and banking, which in turn

experiences and apply them to Vietnam,” Dung recalled.

helped him put together dynamic and engaging lessons. “All those who went over there to study that year have been very

Tran Ba Viet Dung was also passionate about the inception

successful in work and life, and hold important positions in the

of Vietnam–UK University, through his engagement in the

National Assembly, Office of Government, Ministry of Foreign

preparation for the UK visit of the Deputy Prime Minister

Affairs, universities and ministerial leadership,” he said.

and Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thien Nhan in 2010, where the two parties inked the joint statement on

In 2001, Tran Ba Viet Dung was appointed the Director of the

the formation of the world-class Vietnam–UK University.

International Cooperation Department (ICD), Ministry of Education and Training. “I was in charge of the international cooperation

In addition to his role as Director General of the Ministry of

business, which saw a lot of cooperation with the UK.”

Education and Training, Dung was also a standing member of the National Vietnam UK Friendship Association and its

In his new capacity, Dung worked closely with the British Council

Hanoi chapter over three tenures. To him, this is a place

as a focal agency of the UK in education. Both sides made

where “close friends gather and stories are told”.

making significant progress in rolling out a comprehensive agreement on education, one of the key sectors in the

Above all, Tran Ba Viet Dung sees himself as a language

strategic relationship between the UK and Vietnam.

teacher and his bond with Britain opened up to him a whole culture, people and bilateral educational cooperation

Dung’s relationship with the British Council became even more

opportunities that he and his family hold dear and

rooted when the latter intensified and expanded educational

cherish. “Britain is my second home,” Dung said.

partnerships at ministry, provincial department, college and school, teacher and student levels, through close coordination with ICD and other relevant departments of the ministry.


Since 2004, the Going Global educational convention hosted by the British Council has been the world’s most important annual open forum for world educational lead-

ers to debate global opportunities and challenges for higher education and post-secondary education, and to explore partnership solutions.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

British Council O U R P U RP O S E Using the cul tur al re source s of the UK , the B r i tish Co uncil create s f r iendly k nowledge and under s t anding bet ween the p eople of the UK and other countr ie s .

“Chemistry” with the British Council Nguyen Xuan Vang Mr Nguyen Xuan Vang has a certain

the impacts of Vang’s partnerships with

kind of ‘chemistry’ with the British

the British Council have been felt here

Council. He has collaborated with the

in Vietnam, the origins of this longterm

organisation throughout his career, in

relationship began well before the

multiple roles and at different points in

British Council had a presence here.

time. The connection has been there

Mr Nguyen Xuan Vang first crossed paths with the British Council

from the time he was an English teacher

not in Vietnam but rather in London, back in 1984. At that time, he

craving innovative teaching materials

was taking a UNESCO-funded teacher training course, and recalled the British Council’s generous in-kind support in the form of English teaching materials. “The college I was studying at had a visit to

through to when he was promoted to

the British Council. I went too and was very impressed by how the organisation carried out research as well as by the teaching

the role of Rector at Hanoi University

they delivered. They had a series of English teaching manuals and

of Foreign Studies and tasked with

I asked them if I could take or purchase some of them to use in

tendering for a major English teaching project. The relationship continued as Vang became Head of the Ministry of

Vietnam. I gave them my address back home and they sent us the entire set of printed manuals, tapes and CDs, all free of charge.” Back in those days, pursuing further study in English was particularly uncommon as according to Vang, “Russian and Chinese

Education and Training’s International

still had the upper hand.” Vietnam was hungry for resources given

Education Cooperation Department,

for materials to bring home and share with colleagues and friends.

the US economic sanctions, and Vang was actively on the lookout By 1991, although studying English had become more ‘trendy,’

a role that saw him well positioned to

the thirst for high quality contemporary English language material

pursue collaborative partnerships across

was still there. Vang decided to set up the Centre for English

a wide range of fields of education. While

with the goal of providing more opportunities for everyone to

1994 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Teaching Materials, a facility that also taught advanced English access English, and those valued materials offered by the British

Council were there among the resources available for use. Many English ‘fanatics’ may still remember this center, with some of its former students now government ministers and vice ministers. The next milestone he remembers in his relationship with the British Council was their partnership in English teaching in 1998 during Vang’s tenure as Rector of Hanoi University of Foreign Studies. “Back then, there was an international open tender financed by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) through the UNDP. The specifications related to developing the English proficiency of members of 3 key governing bodies in Vietnam – the National Assembly, the People’s Supreme Procuracy and the People’s Supreme Court. Hanoi University of Foreign Studies and the British Council submitted a joint bid and won the almost USD1 million training contract.” Following a successful phase one, the contract was extended with additional funding of close to USD500,000 pouring in. Vang shared that he felt the project was his greatest success amongst all his partnerships with the British Council. Between 2008 and 2017, when Vang was working as Head of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Department of International Cooperation Training, the predecessor of the International Education Cooperation Department, his relationship with the British Council became ‘very close knit.’ Highlights of this period as he recalled it include a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between the British Council and Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, former Vice Prime Minister and Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan’s visit to the UK, the annual Going Global international higher education conference (*), as well as assistance provided by the British Council in establishing connections between Vietnamese and British universities. “Helpful and supportive” are the terms former Department head Nguyen Xuan Vang used to describe how the British Council operated. “They were very helpful and supportive, always ready to share information, explore ideas and identify



The British Council is helpful and supportive, always ready to share information, explore ideas and identify resources available to promote international cooperation with Vietnam in the field of education.

own success I think has certainly been supported by the fact that I resources available to promote international cooperation with

speak English. The British Council can build on its most valued asset

Vietnam in relation to education. The British Council has been there

to continue assisting Vietnam with the teaching of English through

for education in Vietnam through projects like the English 2020

the provision of training for English teachers. Practical support such

project, the Newton Fund, the creation of the Da Nang University

as providing teaching manuals, support with assessment and the

Vietnam–UK Institute for Research & Executive Education, various

dissemination of new approaches to language teaching and learning

projects in education quality assurance and the development

have an important role to play in achieving the goal of increased

of the National Qualifications Framework among others.

communicative competency in English for all Vietnamese students.”

Speaking about the impact of the 2008 educational Memorandum of Understanding, under which the British Council has been tasked

The Foreign Languages 2020 initiative is a Ministry of

with acting on behalf of the British government as a focal agency,

Education and Training project with the objective of

Mr Nguyen Xuan Vang believes that, “performance has generally

embedding the teaching and learning of foreign languages in

been good with benefits for both countries. The two sides have

the national educational system over the period 2008-2020.

worked diligently to find the best collaborative solutions possible.” More recently in July 2018, the Memorandum of Understanding

The Newton Fund: Initiated in 2014, the Newton Fund is a

was extended by the International Cooperation Department and

UK official development assistance programme focused

the British Council, integrating updated components in order

on promoting research and innovation. In Vietnam, the

to further advance internationalisation in Vietnam through

British Council is collaborating with Vietnamese government

improving educational quality and associated competencies,

departments and financing agencies to advance international

enhancing English proficiency, and sharing experiences in

cooperation and to provide professional development

education management for international integration.

for individuals and organisations carrying out research in areas of priority for Vietnam such as health and life

Looking forward, Mr Nguyen Xuan Vang anticipates that, “Vietnam

sciences, agriculture, environmental resource mangement,

wants the quality of English education offered to be providing

sustainable cities, innovation and digital technology.

Vietnamese graduates with a clear competitive edge by 2020. My

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


The British Council has the best English language teaching methodologies Bui Van Khiet Bui Van Khiet is currently Head of

In his early career as an English teacher at B Nghia Hung

the Secondary Education Division

convinced by a methodology that emphasised listening and

middle school in Nam Dinh, Bui Van Khiet was not entirely

for Nam Dinh Education and Training

speaking skills. He lacked confidence in communicative

Department. Thanks to his efforts and

dominated English language teaching at that time.

those of the provincial government,

Then came along the VTTN (Vietnam English Teacher and

along with support from educational

partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training,

partnerships with the British Council, teaching and learning English in

methodologies as approaches focused on grammar-translation

Trainer Network), an initiative promoted by the British Council in and designed expressly to enhance the quality of English teaching at secondary level in Vietnam. Khiet also participated in a Summer School programme initiated by the British Council. From then on, he has no longer felt uncertain, and is instead

Nam Dinh has reached a standard

committed to communicative approaches to language teaching.

among the best in the country.

a trainer, tasked with providing instruction to fellow teachers.

Following his success as a trainee, he was selected to become

2018 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

In his words: “The British Council gives teachers more confidence

of Division Assistant Manager (2015), and then once more,

and develops skills that are key to managing learning effectively.

assuming the role of Head of the Secondary Education (Middle

We don’t need a lot of fancy equipment yet can still achieve high

and High School) Division in 2017. Khiet also directly provides

quality learning outcomes using what we have readily available,

technical assistance and leadership for foreign language

for example, posters or other common materials like white boards,

teaching (English, French and Russian) across the province.

paper and pens, cue cards and so on. Even later on in my career when I underwent methodology refresher training in other countries

While working at the Education Department as a specialist,

like Singapore, Australia, and the USA, I found the training received

the technical advice, coaching support and innovative

was not as effective as that offered by the British Council.”

training he has provided to English teachers in Nam Dinh province has helped steadily improve the quality of language

Khiet’s courses with the British Council were very much a turning

teaching and learning. By 2015, the teacher refresher training

point for him. The training programmes equipped him with a

programme had attained a much higher standard through

range of useful classroom management strategies and helped him

the Department’s partnership with the British Council:

develop a wide repertoire of activities to best engage students and facilitate successful learning. Students often say that the

“I recommended increased international cooperation to the

hours in Khiet’s classes pass so quickly, with his career thriving

department leadership, and in 2015, Nam Dinh Education and

ever since his early successes as a trainee. “I first worked with

Training Department started its partnership with the British

the British Council in late 2001, and by putting what I learned

Council as part of the Teaching for Success initiative. The British

to use, I was able to coach my high-performing students to win

Council came to every school and sat in classes to diagnose,

first or second prizes consistently in the years that followed.”

survey and interview, and from there put together a specific training programme. Teachers were shown a demonstration class

Starting as a district school teacher, Khiet was initially promoted

delivered by a British Council teacher and received lesson planning

to a position at a provincial school, the Le Hong Phong high

support before returning to their own schools to implement what

school for gifted students. There, he continued to coach high-

they had learned in their own classrooms. Teachers’ own practice

performing English students many of whom went on to win many

was observed by supervisors and observations were followed by

prestigious national prizes. Two years later, he was transferred

debriefing sessions to draw out lessons learnt and help teachers

to the Nam Dinh Department of Education and Training as an

improve. The British Council has been very disciplined, meticulous

English specialist. He was then promoted again to the position

and professional in what they do, focusing on progress before, during and after the training. It has been very effective.”

The programme to develop the quality of secondary English teaching in Vietnam (Vietnam English Teacher and Trainer Network (VTTN) provided by the British Council and the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training was highly successful between 1999 and 2012. This programme reached out to every high school in 20 out of 64 provinces and cities across the country. Approximately 10,000 English teachers were trained in the most forward-thinking and effective methodologies for the teaching of modern languages. VTTN was also a trailblazing effort in terms of partnership engagement and investment: local governments provided the educational infrastructure while the British Council offered the curriculum and experts.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Khiet disclosed that proficiency in foreign languages had been a well-known weakness among students in Nam Dinh, particularly listening and speaking ability. This is no longer the case as remarkable improvements have been made. Since the introduction of Project 2020 (a Ministry of Education and Training programme focused on embedding the teaching and learning of foreign languages in the national curriculum over the period 2008–2020), and along with the province’s own efforts and initiatives, as well as of course the vital partnership with the British Council, Nam Dinh has become an example of best practice for the whole country. Nam Dinh’s national high school exam results ranked 9th country-wide in 2017, improving again to 5th in 2018 (even better than some major cities that enjoy more favourable economic and international integration conditions).

If you visit a primary school in Nam Dinh nowadays, even a third or fourth grader would be very confident in greeting and communicating in English with a foreigner. I consider that something to be proud of and our biggest success.

According to Khiet, his success can be summarised as follows: “If a foreigner comes to a primary school in Nam Dinh nowadays, even a third or fourth grader will confidently greet and communicate with them in English. I consider that something to be proud of and the biggest success of my educational career. Even in my college days, I was not that confident talking to an English teacher who was a native speaker.�

Partnership with the British Council makes a real difference Bui Thi Minh Nga The partnership between Bui Thi Minh Nga, deputy head of the K-12 education division, Hanoi Department of Education

and unique opportunity to build connections with native English speakers. The books were incredibly useful and hard to come across locally at that time, including, for example, Oxford dictionaries, literature books for school students, and English teaching guides for

and Training and the British Council

teachers. Nga has been in touch with the British Council ever since.

is a decade-long story about a close

In 2007, as a Vice Principal, Nga pushed for closer partnership

bond that has been remained strong

innovative ways to teach English. Nga explained: “Historically,

between the school and the British Council in introducing

from Nga’s time as an English teacher

an English teacher typically taught the students vocabulary

in Hanoi through to the present. The

the students learned the language through a system of translation.

latest achievement between the two is a Memorandum of Understanding on educational cooperation between

definitions, like what this English word means in Vietnamese, and The second emphasis was on grammar, and as a result, students might ultimately become very good at grammar, while their listening and speaking capabilities remained poor.” With the new methods offered by the British Council, the first thing Nga did was to decree that teachers must use English as the language

the Department of Education and

of instruction in all English classes at the school. Her second

Training and the British Council

oriented teaching approaches towards a communication-based

that was signed in August 2018.

quality English teaching rose to the top in the city, with the school

move was to shift away from a focus on traditional grammarmethodology. From there, Tran Phu High School’s reputation for going on to offer demonstration classes showcasing their highly

Bui Thi Minh Nga first had contact with the British Council in 2006

effective new way of teaching. Many students taking foreign

when working at Tran Phu High School in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem

language university entrance exams not only perform well in

District. She received more than a hundred books as gifts from the

terms of spoken English communication, but also lead the class

organisation. Nga, at that time the language team leader, saw a new

in terms of dynamic, innovative and effective learning methods.


2006 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Nga’s relationship with the British Council continued to develop

Other successes are noted too, including workshops on 21st

in positive ways. In 2013 Nga became the head of the Foreign

century skills using a British Council model. These sessions have

Education Division, Hanoi Department of Education and Training.

been instrumental in fostering creativity and developing critical

During the period 2013–2015, both the Department and the

thinking and problem-solving skills amongst students. In Nga’s

British Council held numerous workshops on English teaching

words: “Teachers who are used to a teacher-centred approach

methodology for secondary schools across the city as part

may find it hard to move away from the methods they are familiar

of Project 2020 (a Ministry of Education and Training project

with. This sort of project requires teachers to continually innovate

focused on embedding quality teaching and learning of foreign

and also empowers students to become more autonomous in

languages in the national curriculumn). These workshops aimed

their learning. Teacher and students work collaboratively in

to remedy a lack of innovation as well as challenge a pervasive

the classroom instead of teacher-centric learning being the

mindset of dependence on ‘central plans’ in public schools, both

dominant approach. The change in the position and role of the

considered key factors in why public middle and high schools

learner (and teacher) is not just important for innovative language

had been left behind as other education sectors moved forward.

teaching and learning, but is also relevant to the development

After the workshops, Nga realised that teachers actually became

of many other core skills that the British Council is promoting.”

more dynamic and innovative in their teaching practice posttraining, and she is confident this fruitful partnership will go on.

After many years of productive partnership, a Memorandum of

“Going forward, under the revised Project 2020 until 2025, the

Understanding for Education between the Hanoi Department

education department will further tighten cooperation with the

of Education and Training and the British Council was signed

British Council to make even more positive changes.” Nga said

on August 15, 2018, marking the 25th anniversary of the British Council in Vietnam and the 45th year of diplomatic ties between

Nga also speaks highly of other British Council programs like the

the two nations, providing a cooperative framework for activities

Kids Read project, financed by HSBC and delivered at six primary

and lines of work that the two signatories are pursuing.

schools. This project trains teachers in story-telling, including ways to successfully integrate regular use of stories into their

When asked to describe the British Council, Nga took no

classroom teaching practice. It further aims to raise awareness

time in responding – “Professional, dynamic, efficient and

around the importance of reading in expanding general knowledge,

reliable.” Nga is convinced that there is still much to come

supporting cognitive development, building greater social

from her ongoing partnership with the British Council.

confidence and increasing English language proficiency. With its commitment to getting kids reading and to providing parents with the knowledge and skills needed to support children with regular reading at home, the project has really impressed stakeholders.

Professional, dynamic, efficient and reliable.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Actively shape the future for vocational training

The British Council is very professional, understands the issues of Vietnam and shares common goals in cooperation.

Pham Vu Quoc Binh Pham Vu Quoc Binh, Director of Vietnam Vocational Training Accreditation Agency, Ministry of

With that foundation, Binh said he began to participate in series of activities related to vocational education under the British Council’s partnership programme since 2014.

Labour, invalids and Social Affairs,

One of the significant projects involves the British Council’s

highlights the British Council’s

Framework (VQF) that helps recruiters, students and educators

valuable role in ensuring vocational

cooperation in building and implementing the Vietnam Qualifications have the same understanding and perspective of the value of qualifications through professional ability. The VQF also serves as

training meets the needs of Vietnam’s

a reference for other countries, making it possible for Vietnamese

ongoing international integration.

level. The British Council has jointly organised capacity building

qualifications to be recognised or converted at international activities, invited experts from the UK to share their expertise and

The vocational education system, which provides about

comments from the drafting phase to until the VQF was approved

75 per cent of Vietnam’s human resources, is playing an enormously

by the government (2016) and supported the implementation

important role amid the still high number of college students who

of VQF. Vietnam can benefit from sharing the best practices

graduate without jobs and the internationalised labour market’s

and lessons learnt from other countries, helping to standardise

requirement for highly qualified and skilled human resources in

and enhance the competitiveness of human resources.

accordance with international standards. Pham Vu Quoc Binh, Director of Vietnam Vocational Training Accreditation Agency

He highlighted the project to develop the quality assurance system

(VVTAA), believed vocational education must follow international

in some vocational training colleges set to be upgraded to high

standards to ensure quality. “However, the changes have still

quality colleges and active cooperation as especially important

not met the requirements of the international economic and

for VVTAA. Twenty-one institutions in Vietnam have cooperated

environment,” he said. Therefore, research and learning from

with UK institutions to improve the vocational training quality

the international quality assurance system is essential.

through applying the UK quality assurance system. He said even

though quality assurance management was applied in institutions previously, it seemed ineffective since it mainly followed State regulations and was sometimes disconnected, localised and scientific aspects to its management and the sustainability was not high. Since the participation of UK experts, institutions have witnessed positive changes from the cognitive stage “focusing on students” to the teaching stage having inspired learners and built a campus environment. Despite the project having ended, its positive impact has been maintained by connecting activities, networking, sharing successful experiences in vocational schools. The number of beneficiaries from 21 participating institutions is up to to 1,379 managers, teachers and staff. Binh said “the second project” was small, but “extremely valuable”. It was launched in March 2018, another success from the previous project. It involves coordination with the British Council in applying UK standards to quality assessment training in two vocational schools in Vietnam. This is the first time foreign experts have evaluated the level of satisfaction of international quality standards of vocational education in Vietnam. The evaluation results and recommendations were extremely important to vocational schools in Vietnam in achieving international standards. To further enhance the project’s effectiveness, the British Council will continue its support with four vocational schools in the automotive section evaluated by UK standards in 2018. As such, he highly praised the British Council’s approach and expertise: “The British Council strongly believes in its partners, running the content clearly with maximum initiative. The projects are implemented very smoothly. British Council staff are professional and open-minded, the UK experts are willing to share their knowledge and experience.” Looking forward, he welcomed further close support from the British Council: “We are ready to coordinate, research together and use different funding structures.” His dream is to have all institutions in Vietnam with a system of quality management training, because “it is an urgent matter to focus on the international path to improve the quality of training, and successfully implement the policy of promoting selfreliance in association with accountability of institutions”.

2014 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Motivation remains high for promoting the establishment of the first international university in Central Vietnam

There is a s foundation trust betwe British Cou and the Uni of Da Nang

Dr Duong Mong Ha “The British Council provided strong

according to Dr Duong Mong Ha, former

support for the creation of the VNUK

VNUK Director and senior specialist

Institute for Research & Executive

for higher education accreditation.

Education, Da Nang University, a

Da Nang University has a long history of collaboration with

watershed moment in tertiary education development for the region. Central

the British Council. The two organisations worked together on launching the United Kingdom Education Exhibition in Da Nang in 2006, helping students to explore opportunities for study in

Vietnam now has a recognised

the UK and providing access to Vietnam-based programmes that

international research institute, with

University has also been fostering partnerships with UK universities

the institute laying the groundwork for a proposed Vietnam – UK University,”

grant UK qualifications. Through the British Council, Da Nang and Sterling Group, an organisation representing 22 UK leading technology research universities. Since 2010, the foremost researchers of Sterling Group have been travelling to Vietnam.

strong of een the uncil iversity g.


2017 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Sterling Group academics have contributed to the partnership

and pursuing partnerships that are responsive to the demands

through teaching and the delivery of academic reports, creating

of industry and international job markets. Again, it was the British

opportunities for managers, instructors, researchers and students

Council that connected the dots, supporting VNUK in partnering with

of the member colleges of Da Nang University to meet. This has

top British businesses like Tate & Lyle Plc., for example, with the firm

helped to establish international networks and provide access

pledging to grant full or partial scholarships for VNUK graduates.

to innovative information, contemporary methodology and other achievements in the realm of science and technology.

“In the entire process of preparing for VNUK, I was very impressed with Mr Robin Rickard, the British Council Country Director from

“These are underlying efforts that have created a strong foundation

2009–2013, who was so dedicated and spent so much time and

of trust between the British Council and Da Nang University,” said

effort working with me personally on the Vietnam – UK University

Dr Duong Mong Ha. When the Ministry of Education and Training

project,” Dr Ha recalled. “Unfortunately, Robin was not in Vietnam

nominated Da Nang University to work with the British Council

to witness the initial success of the project. He moved to a

in 2010 on the development of the Vietnam – UK International

new post four months before the official decision to create the

University, that trust proved its worth. The existing mutual respect

Vietnam – UK Research and Training Institute was made public.”

enabled both sides to work closely together, and allowed the project to proceed successfully. Dr Ha was tasked with working directly with

The Vietnam – UK International University still lies ahead. While

the British Council and a UK partner – Aston University – to develop

Dr Ha will not have the opportunity to continue his involvement,

a project proposal. The project was designed in two phases: setting

he hopes that the success of the VNUK Institute for Research &

up the VNUK Institute for Research & Executive Education, and

Executive Education will provide impetus for the establishment

expanding the Institute with the ultimate goal of creating a Vietnam

of the Vietnam–UK International University, providing Da Nang

– UK University in Da Nang with academic support from UK partners.

city and central Vietnam with a world-class research university.

“While I have worked on the development and implementation of numerous projects with various partners from Australia, the USA, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Canada and the UK, the Vietnam – UK University project is the contribution that I am most happy with,” Dr Ha said. “Through this project, myself and university leadership have had the opportunity to maintain contact with our British partners, attend international educational conferences, visit and work at British schools, and discuss the development of partnership programs for research and training, among others.” Now in its fourth year since inception and as the first public international tertiary institution in the region, the VNUK Institute for Research & Executive Education has played a key in role in internationalising higher education in central Vietnam. The Institute is also in its fourth year of recruiting students majoring in computer science, business administration and biomedical science. Professor Ha notes that students learn a wide range of practical skills, develop a forward thinking and open mindset, and speak very good English. The institution’s partner, Aston University, is among the top 10 research universities in the UK both in terms of graduate employability and the long term professional success and prosperity of its alumni – there are plenty of millionaires amongst its graduates. Similarly, VNUK remains committed to providing training

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Cou second home f

Prof Ngo Giang L Having dedicated her whole life to science, Professor Ngo Giang Lien still has the same emotions as many years before when recalling her collaboration with fellow scientists from the UK in the fight against malaria in Vietnam, and on her favourite scientific endeavour: breeding mosquitoes. Colleagues of Professor Dr Ngo Giang Lien, former deputy of the Cell Biology subject group at the National University’s Natural Sciences School, still show admiration when talking about her ground-breaking study on malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. When her project proposal was accepted for funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1994, she and her team headed to Khanh Phu Commune in Khanh Hoa Province, a wild and remote forested area and as such a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes with their preference for living around tree stumps and in leaf canopies. There, they caught and bred mosquitoes to study their chromosomes. Their one-week trip was ultimately extended to three months, and the team only came back to Hanoi a couple of days before the Tet holiday. “I felt so happy during that time” said Lien. “Vietnam was very poor. Without the chromosome methodology, the fight against malaria would have gone nowhere.”


I want to say my most sincere thank you to the British Council and the British scientists who have been with us every step of the way in the fight against malaria in Vietnam and around the world. Without their help, the struggle to combat malaria in Vietnam would have gone on forever.

uncil is my for science


After three months in the jungle, the WHO project was a success, but less so for the team members personally as most developed malaria on their return to Hanoi. Severe headaches and endless hot and cold fevers took their toll on Ngo Giang Lien’s health. Stunned by the instructor’s courageous sacrifice, British experts from WHO suggested she travel to the UK to learn new approaches to tackling the disease. The British Council did all it could to help her secure prestigious internships with world famous professors specialising in malaria research at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, London University and other UK universities. For the first time, a Vietnamese national gained access to advanced approaches to identifying malaria vectors. Back in Vietnam, Lien took bold steps in setting up training courses on new techniques for researchers from within the country as well as from a number

to Vietnam, delivering training on the latest tropical disease

of other countries in the region including Thailand and Indonesia.

mitigation methodologies and their theoretical foundations. “It was

The training programmes were a resounding success.

an invaluable partnership, and the British scientists we worked with were absolutely passionate, highly dedicated and always

“I worked so closely with the British Council as my second

professional,” she said. This close-knit cooperation helped Vietnam

home for science. The organisation empowered me

get a handle on malaria epidemics. With more than 4,000 people

to gain access to modern scientific domains, explore

all over the country dying from malaria in 1994, Vietnam is now

advanced techniques and work alongside top experts in

well in control of the disease and can prevent major outbreaks.

my field of research” Professor Ngo Giang Lien said.

Dengue haemorrhagic fever is also substantially mitigated.

After her return home from training in the UK, Lien again worked

As Professor Ngo Giang Lien puts it, the British Council’s

in partnership with the British Council for well over a decade,

influence in this endeavour was huge. She hopes the British

and extensively so during the period 2000–2011. The British

Council is here to stay and will continue to help connect the

Council worked with Lien to bring the UK’s foremost experts

science community in Vietnam with their UK colleagues.

2011 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Deep impression from the London accreditation course Prof Dr Mai Trong Nhuan Prof Dr Mai Trong Nhuan participated

Prof Mai Trong Nhuan, former VNU Hanoi Director, recalled his

in the higher education accreditation

London at that time was disruptive after the bombing, but the course

training held by the British Council

ground-breaking trip to this accreditation training course: “Being in went smoothly and was inspiring. The course only lasted 10 days, but it was of great benefit to me. VNU Hanoi had in mind for some

in the United Kingdom just after the

time that autonomy in education must rely on accreditation, but it

July 7, 2005 London bombing. It

this course, I learned about the higher education accreditation set

lacked a toolkit with specific quality testing benchmarks. Thanks to

made for a high-impact trip that left

of criteria used in the UK, and more importantly, how it worked.”

its mark, especially for the access

After the course, Prof Nhuan provided insight and participated

it provided to new thinking that

which came out in 2006. He tapped into what he learned from

in the development of accreditation guidelines for VNU Hanoi,

resulted in pioneering educational

the trip and referenced to other countries with the unique

accreditation efforts in Vietnam.

The professor said this was the first accreditation toolkit HNU

nature of tertiary education in Vietnam and VNU Hanoi in mind. introduced in Vietnam, used by the Ministry of Education and

Accreditation is a common higher education quality

Training as a reference source for the release of “Guidelines

control tool in many countries, including Vietnam. It helps

on the procedures and cycles for educational accreditation

universities improve their quality over time, retain learners,

in universities, colleges and technical schools” in 2007.

maintain autonomy and responsibility to society, while meeting the needs for human resources, science and

In addition to helping to put in place a foundational and pioneering

technology for ongoing international integration.

set of criteria, Prof Nhuan also explored the modern approach to educational accreditation. He realised that while Vietnam often

In this context, Vietnam National University, Hanoi (VNU) has

took a procedural approach to accreditation, meaning that it

launched itself as a trailblazing educational institution in this

focused more on compliance (whereas regulations may be obsolete

field of activities for a decade, through its partnership with the

and out of touch with reality), the approach to accreditation

British Council and accrediting agencies in other countries.

in the UK and elsewhere around the world was a result-based

one (whether something is good or not), and accurate and independent scientific principles. The course also opened up the opportunity for a close partnership between the professor and British Council, through various activities financed and delivered by the latter, including numerous forums, workshops and training courses on advanced higher

The British Council is an organisation that symbolises connecting, sharing, partnership building, opportunities and creating trust.

education governance. Through the partnership with the British Council, he was also proactive in taking educational quality control and accreditation at the national university closer to international best practices to help develop a research-oriented, multisectoral, interdisciplinary, highly autonomous and responsible approach to university training development, launching the university as a trusted and leading name in Vietnam. The course was invaluable for the professor’s work as leader of VNU Hanoi until 2012 and later as a senior officer, Chairman of the National University Accreditation Board, vice chair of the Policy Advisory Board, Vietnam Panel of Climate Change. When it comes to educational accreditation, the professor headed the external evaluation teams of many other universities in Vietnam and worked as a facilitator in accreditor courses. In 2016, he was invited by the British Council to attend an accreditor training course. From the experiences gained from the UK and around the world, he shared new thinking with students from various colleges in Vietnam on educational accreditation, accentuating truthfulness, integrity, intelligence, experience and cognisance for accreditors. He also valued and gave high credit to the way British Council experts worked. He recalled that meetings often took place with high intensity, through unique, straightforward, scientific, professional and aggressive methods, but in harmony, mutual respect and listening when it came to negotiations. Prof Nhuan wished the British Council would continue to be a good and inspiring example in terms of quality and innovation, and to provide more partnership opportunities among training and research institutions of the two countries.

2007 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


My first access to Newton Fund through the project delivered by British Council made the difference in my career with science. It allowed me to build a foundation and especially the confidence to drive projects forward to success.

Young scientist breaks new ground to connect Vietnam and UK Prof Duong Quang Trung Professor Duong Quang Trung is a celebrated success story and shining example of the British Council’s capacitybuilding agenda focused on early career researchers. With resources from the Newton Fund, he is generating opportunities for learning, research and networking between Vietnamese scientists, the UK and other countries.

brought the young professor (aged 35) back to Vietnam to attend the “UK – Vietnam Researcher Links” workshop. The workshop was his stepping stone to build and connect research teams in Vietnam. The next year, Prof Trung and his team successfully enlisted sponsorship from the UK Government’s Newton Fund delivered by the British Council. “In April 2014, I was sponsored by the British Council to attend a workshop connecting early career researchers in Vietnam and the UK. That led me to work with colleagues from Duy Tan University on a project called “Laying the groundwork for sustainable development: Connected society for future cities” and managed to pool a £220,000 fund for the study. This project went on to win the Newton Prize 2017. I was then awarded more than a dozen other projects from the British Government, but

Hailing from the ancient town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam,

my first access to Newton Fund through the project delivered

Professor Duong Quang Trung now works at Queen’s Belfast

by British Council – made the difference in my career with

University (one of the top 24 universities in the UK) as a third-

science. It allowed me to build a foundation and especially the

ranked professor on a four-rank scale (Reader). His main job

confidence to drive projects forward to success,” he said.

involves research in the telecommunications field and teaching students. As a brilliant young scientist who has won numerous

The research project that won the Newton Prize 2017, along with

awards and scientific research funding (£3 million over the

associate, Dr Vo Nguyen Son from Duy Tan University, was deemed

past four years), Prof Trung believes British Council research

extremely valuable for Vietnam and the world. Essentially, it uses

support through the delivery of Newton Fund provided a critical

information and telecoms technology to maintain communications in

foundation to build on his doctorate for further success.

challenging conditions, such as during natural disasters and within environmental pollution, when other network systems have been

In 2014, the British Council was the first sponsor that

destroyed or congested. This system also helps to provide early

2014 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


connects with medical relief in the field. The project has conducted

About the Newton Fund

a large number of trainings, networking and exchange activities

The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships

warnings for natural disasters and contamination levels as well as

between research communities in Vietnam, the UK and globally. Another meaningful scientific link financed by the Newton Fund – the annual International Summer School founded by Prof Trung– helps Vietnamese students to get involved, improve their understanding and become familiar with ongoing academic activities in the advanced global educational systems, with involvement from scientists from world-leading universities. Prof Trung said that after three rounds of activities, 39 out of 66 summer camp participants have been awarded full Master’s or PhD scholarships in the UK as well as the US, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The partnership between Prof Trung and the British Council has been fruitful, with four projects under the auspices of the Newton Fund. “The British Council has the passion and always does everything it can to support science. The projects sponsored and delivered by the British Council are producing positive results and providing the vital interface for Vietnamese scientists to reach out to the advanced research sector in the UK,” he said.

with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 7 UK delivery partners, which includes UK Research and Innovation (comprising the 7 research councils and Innovate UK), the UK Academies, the British Council and the Met Office. The Newton Prize is an annual £1 million fund awarded for the best research or innovation that promotes the economic development and social welfare of developing countries. More than 150 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize 2017 from the eligible countries – India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are 25 shortlisted applications in total and five Prizes of up to £200,000 will be awarded to each winner to be used to advance or develop existing Newton funded work. The Newton Prize aims to incentivise researchers to participate in the Newton Fund as partners with the UK, and to work on the most important challenges facing Newton countries. The concept for the Newton Prize has been developed to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton countries are solving global challenges. For further information visit the Newton Fund website (www.newtonfund.ac.uk) and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

HAPIE project brings happier outcomes for all

Assoc Prof Dr Mai Anh Tuan Assoc Prof Dr Mai Anh Tuan, Ministry

a component of the HAPIE project. HAPIE is focused on

of Science and Technology (MOST)

employability of students through the design and development

and head of the HAPIE project, asserts that “the collaboration between British consultants and Vietnamese

building quality human resource capabilities and increasing the of high-value technologies, with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of the British Council Vietnam’s initiative for building university partnerships between Vietnam and the UK, the programme is comprised of 17 Vietnamese entities and four British partners. Experts from different fields, including information

hospitals, universities and businesses

technology, mechanical engineering, and the medical sciences

for the purposes of HAPIE has yielded

businesses and hospitals concentrate on technology transfer

impressive and tangible results.”

hi-tech products, for example, precision biomedical and mechanical

from universities in both countries, along with Vietnamese tech between the UK and Vietnam. Emphasis is placed on high-value engineering technologies, maritime environment analysis tools,

In 2017, 108 Military Central Hospital carried out a special

and hi-tech agriculture solutions, among others. Experts from

operation for a patient who had lost a jawbone following an

both countries have been working collaboratively on the research

accident. Doctors and specialists from Vietnam (in a team led

and development of cutting-edge technologies, supporting each

by Assoc Prof Tran Duc Tang) and the UK (Dr Le Chi Hieu) drew

other in accessing funding, and collaborating on projects seeking

up a pre-operative plan to recreate the patient’s jaw, calculating

to commercialise research outcomes. This is an excellent example

which other bones in the body could be used for the transplant,

of interagency coordination and professional cooperation.

building a mock-up of the lost bone, and creating the mock-up using 3D printing technology prior to the operation. The operation

Through two HAPIE workshops in 2017, Vietnamese partners

was successfully completed in nine hours instead of the usual

have come to better understand processes around successful

twelve. This helped mitigate much of the potential risk to the

commercialisation of tech innovations, from how to identify sources

patient, relieved pressure on the doctors, and reduced operating

of funding, to how to calculate non-technical social, economic

costs. The approach taken to the execution and transfer of this

and environmental impacts associated with product development.

pre-operative procedure has allowed for its application in various

According to Dr Tuan, colleagues from the UK also shared their

hospitals in Vietnam with a high level of precision, an outcome which

experiences in skills development to help universities and institutes

is highly beneficial for patients, physicians and the community.

quickly get on the same page as industry. Not just limited to theoretical exchanges, HAPIE has also successfully proceeded

The pre-operative planning process outlined above is actually

with three hands-on components in which local partners have

2016 2017 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

had the chance to practice firsthand a wide range of skills and techniques, with consultants from the UK assisting at their side. HAPIE also has other success stories that Dr Tuan is proud of. One of them is ROBOT3C, a project partner company making robots and other automation products that are marketed in 50 countries. HAPIE, working in tandem with ROBOT3C, applied for and obtained additional funding from the National Technology Innovation Fund (NATIF) in order to focus on perfecting products by applying specific quality and productivity standard to ensure an increasingly secure foothold for Vietnamese robotics in other markets. “HAPIE is a rare story of success and efficiency,” Dr Tuan said. “Over the 10-month implementation period September 2016 – June 2017, despite the modest initial investment, revenue generated by the project has increased tens of times.” As part of the HAPIE operation, seven individual projects from Vietnamese partners have received financial support in their search for product development funding, with contributions from the Vietnamese and UK governments totaling £384,000. HAPIE has also been working with the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Light Beam Magazine team and other stakeholders from the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, the VNU University of Science and the Vietnam–Japan University as well as with a wide range of established companies. Roundtable talks have taken place to provide students from technical colleges with the knowledge and skills required to meet industry expectations, prepare for the workplace and find the right job. Each student learned how to project plan, work in a team or independently, and benefited a lot from what consultants had to share about using their new skills on the job. The project has since received a lot of positive feedback from companies who have hired project participants. Dr Tuan told us that, “Many of these participants later became our colleagues. This approach to student training is anchored in academic research and carried out in close association with laboratories, enabling the mastery of both theory and practice. It is an approach that is unafraid to dedicate time to equipping learners with soft skills, and importantly, it seeks to increase dialogue with industry in order to guarantee quality higher education outputs through a training model that can be shared and replicated among other universities.” Dr Tuan posited that “HAPIE does indeed bring happier outcomes for all.”

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

HAPIE helps drastically transform how research outcomes translate into real life in Vietnam.

Creating opportunities for young people

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

It is interesting how the British Council brings people together to meet, innovate, create and inspire one another to action.

Global Citizens Summer Camp – living with responsibility and love

Vu Hoang Duong As far as Vu Hoang Duong is concerned, participating in the British Council’s Global Citizens Summer Camp was

youth-centred initiative with the objective of cultivating a sense of local and global community and awareness about sustainable development. Vu Hoang Duong was accepted into the YGCP

a formative experience that helped

when she was a fresher at the Foreign Trade University. She

her realise what is important in life.

and wanted to make a difference. Through the YGCP and her

The young woman is now happy

was beginning to think more deeply about the outside world relationship with the British Council, Duong became aware of things that mattered to her professional and personal lives.

with what she has. She works in a

“That [was the] turning point!” Duong said, without any doubt.

project management position for the

Teaming up with other YGCP members from Vietnam (17 in total), she

non-government organisation (NGO)

and enhance her skills. She was able to share what she learned

Oxfam in governance, overseeing projects of social significance as well


The Young Global Citizens Programme (YGCP) is a British Council

participated in a wide variety of activities to develop her cognisance with those younger than her in the summer camps that followed. In 2007, Duong was selected to participate in a British Council event to meet global YGCP representatives in the UK. She has been

as finding fulfillment in her role as a

invited ever since to share and connect with summer camp teams.

loving mother to two at home. Every

“It is interesting how the British Council brings together people

day, she tells herself to live more

action,” she said. The young ones Duong met inspired her

who meet, innovate and create, and inspire one another to

responsibly, lovingly and in ways

to live and to have passion in life. A Korean friend crossed

that benefit future generations.

positive changes. A Pakistani friend who later became a well-

2010 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

continents to work as a volunteer and contribute to making

known TV anchor moved Duong with her story of how she

creative and at the forefront. A reward for Duong’s efforts

survived through the hardship of war in her country.

can be seen through the Citizens’ Public Services Rating on Smartphones initiative, an Oxfam success story that Duong and

Duong also truly learned how to respect differences. The 17

her colleagues jointly initiated, raised funds for and convinced

YGCP members came from different parts of Vietnam and

municipalities to implement and replicate. Another effort was the

disparate environments, yet had their own individual qualities.

Tax Inclusiveness Initiative (a policy review and recommendation

Because of this, they learned a lot from one another. There

for tax reallocation to guarantee more inclusiveness between

was a love of tap dancing, determination to build a hometown

the rich and poor) that Duong helped develop and promote. This

educational facility, chasing a dream to become an architect, a

was rated as pioneering and timely, as Vietnam was in need of

yoga instructor and so on. Living so close to such differences

restructuring its tax system during a period when conventional

enlightened Duong: “Learning from one another’s way of life and

revenues, from tariffs and oil for example, were dwindling.

respecting these differences makes life interesting and nuanced.” More than a decade has passed since the YGCP, Duong still keeps An all-important influence for Duong came from contact with the

in touch with her summer camp friends and British Council officers,

British Council, a career choice. Getting to know British Council

to share memories and deep-rooted life values from the summer

employees from the YGCP summer camp, she came to love the

camps. She often says to herself: “If I don’t do this right, what will

values enshrined by the British Council and knew she wanted

become of my children, future generations and the whole society,

to work for a NGO. Duong felt the dedication the British Council

unless I help to build a foundation on which they can thrive?”

employees extended to young participants not only from their sense of responsibility, but from love, passion and the need to inspire and spread good values. Under such influences, Duong chose a socially meaningful topic for her Bachelor’s dissertation, Fair trade for coffee growers, before she applied for an internship at Oxfam and became an employee. She held firm in her belief that “working hard and being useful will have positive future impacts”, the same sentiments the British Council officers cultivated in her. Another value inspired by the British Council is always being at the forefront. After the YGCP, she followed many British Council activities and realised she was “at the forefront”. For example, the concepts of global or active citizenship have only become more familiar with people recently through constant use, after the British Council introduced them in 2006. Personally, her entire career with Oxfam has followed that principle of being

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Council inspires deep thinking and commitment to academic inquiry Nguyen Dinh Ton Nu Nguyen Dinh Ton Nu, a high school

This exceptional student learned her English at the British Council

student who earned a major scholarship

from the 3rd to the 8th grade. Apart from studying English, she also participated in many other activities like acting in plays as a

from Harvard University, said that

4th grader, making movies with her friends, and writing essays in

her 5-years spent studying at the

One teacher at the British Council impressed Ton Nu profoundly –

British Council was instrumental to her finding her own path in life. It was early summer 2017 when Nguyen Dinh Ton Nu rocked the world of local youngsters as the media reported on her success as the Vietnamese girl who had won a 7 billion VND scholarship to prestigious Harvard University. The 18-year-old former student from Hanoi Amsterdam School for gifted students was also able to convince three other American universities to reserve a scholarship for her. However, setting aside her own expectations and those of her family, Ton Nu wrote a letter to Harvard requesting a one-year postponement so that she could stay in Vietnam to live life, try different jobs and experience both success and failure. In late August 2018 she left for Harvard, where she has chosen to major in either human science or philosophy, whichever she decides is most to her liking.

6th and 7th grades – earlier than her peers by four or five years. Mr Robert. “When I was in the 6th and 7th grades, he taught us so much, not just a few paragraphs but a whole book,” she recalled. “He taught us English through movies, guided me and the class on how to make a movie, how to analyse a story, and how to write a creative script based on that story. He set the bar high but not too high. He allowed us to move freely with our minds and explore our creativity, but remained present to help us throughout the entire process.” It was those years studying at the British Council that helped Nu achieve a breakthrough in how she thinks. It was there that she found a love of learning that motivated her to pursue and achieve the goals that she has now succeeded in attaining. Studying for this young woman is joy. Ton Nu not only studies at school, but also reads extensively. At home, while Nu’s mother taught her how to be independent, her father has always encouraged her to read, and from a tender age. It was her parents’ encouragement that prompted Nu to always question, explore

My time studying at the British Council is a source of inspiration for my academic life and a model for me to follow what has so far been a very inspiring path.

problems, remain focused and think deeply, all in the pursuit of greater understanding of the world, both the outer world and the world within oneself. Ton Nu values highly the ability to learn autonomously. “To love something, you must learn it yourself, be independent, stand on your own two feet, and dare to delve into your feelings, encounter questions, accept failures and deviations. You must be courageous enough to accept all that to remain passionate about learning.” On her study path, Ton Nu shared with us that, “The British Council is very important to me, and may even be one of my most influential sources of inspiration. I can share my views on Western styles of studying, on personal freedoms and self-determination, all because of my days studying at the British Council. It is where I came in contact with international teachers and came to know more about education in the West. I absorbed a lot about learning itself, and how to raise questions and answer them. The five years I spent studying at the British Council helped me greatly in finding my own way forward.”

2008 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Creator of job connection fair – Connect the Dots

Nguyen Ho Quang Ha Nguyen Ho Quang Ha is an active

Ha studied his MBA at Southampton University in the UK in

member of the UK Alumni Association

2009, became an active member of UKAV in 2012 and almost

in Vietnam (UKAV), an organisation the British Council created and nurtured in terms of capacity and resources since 2007. Following the footsteps of previous generations, he came up with the idea for a job connection fair ‘Connect the Dots’, a trusted and selective job channel that helps a large number of UK alumni

instantly he had the idea for the job fair ‘Connect the Dots’, to connect employers and help students returning home from the UK to deal with the challenges of finding a job. Ha is on a mission for UKAV to connect former and outbound Vietnamese students to the UK, sharing life and learning skills for them to get the best preparation possible in relation to the culture, society and environment before arriving in the country. Connect the Dots is an opportunity for students to best re-integrate when they return home, provide updates on employment, economic development in Vietnam, and so on. This provides a really solid platform for students.

connect efficiently with employers.

Support and counseling from the British Council helped UKAV make

Nguyen Ho Quang Ha is a busy man, but that does not prevent

Connect the Dots more professional, such as how to properly assess

him from making meaningful contributions to the community. He

the needs of employers and candidates who return as UK alumni

currently works as Hanoi branch manager of a foreign company in risk management and insurance consulting, and concurrently the managing director of UKAV in Hanoi and an executive member of the Vietnam–UK Friendship Association. UKAV alone has about 2,500 members and approximately 7,500 fan page followers, having engaged in a diverse range of activities to connect and

to create a convincing agenda for the event, including workshops discussing employment demand, updates on job markets in Vietnam and secrets to successfully finding a job. These were followed by in-person interviews between employers and candidates. The first event in the chain took place in August 2013, crowding in about

share, from culture, sports, philanthropy to job opportunities

300–400 participants and eight companies, including major names

and most notably the Connect the Dots event initiated by Ha.

such as McKenzie, Standard Chartered Bank, among others.

The first event was a resounding success and marked the establishment of Connect the Dots, as the initiative became a source of high quality employee supply. Ha recalled: “In 2015, FPT as one of the participating companies, was provided with 100 applications by UKAV, 30 of which were accepted. Another example is Standard Chartered Bank that participated for five years in a row, as did many other businesses.” For five consecutive years, Ha took the lead in event organisation and personally engaged in fund raising activities. Added to that, with the British Council’s support along the path, participants in Connect the Dots have increased in numbers, launching UKAV as a well-known brand name that is recognised as one of the most professional and effective student alumni in Vietnam. The event is not only for engaging UK alumni, but also alumni students from other countries. Ha said: “The biggest event was in 2016. About 40 companies and 700 international students, including 400 from the UK attended. We had major Vietnamese and foreign firms, including IBM, Microsoft, HSBC, Vietnam Electricity (EVN), FPT Corp., Vingroup and even the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower, coming to find human resources.” Many young talents have found the jobs they wanted through Connect the Dots, for example the VinPearl Nha Trang Vice President’s job, a position with a healthy salary. Moreover, this also came with meaningful partnerships, as some students who found jobs through Connect the Dots later came back voluntarily to support the initiative. Ha personally thought Connect the Dots gave him a network to connect and share with friends, and he was happy to do something to help young students. He has come across many talented young Vietnamese and he wants to share opportunities and understanding with them, to help put Vietnamese human resources on the international employment map. As such, he holds dear his moto in life: “Be yourself, do good deeds, live with the community”, and being a part of UKAV and the British Council helps him live up to his philosophy in life.

2012 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


The British Co helped make come true Vu Dinh Hung Vu Dinh Hung was the winner of the top IELTS award for East Asia presented by the British Council in 2015. Now the young academic is in his 3rd year of university, majoring in Psychology and Sociology at Nottingham Trent University (UK). He has been very much involved in various social activities at the university, including introducing Vietnamese culture to international friends, taking on an internship at the college’s Training and Governance Department, and assisting young startups.

ouncil Award my dream

If I can describe the British Council Vietnam in a few words, I would say that it is committed to creating positive change for the community.

Vu Dinh Hung sat for the IELTS exam at the British Council in May 2015 at the age of 25, when he had just graduated as a General Physician from Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University in Ho Chi Minh City. In the same year, Hung applied for the IELTS Prize scholarship. Hung’s presentation at the competition on the working class neighborhood in HCMC where he was born

“Taking a study trip overseas is no simple decision, especially

and raised, a place where city-dwellers see one another as

when it comes to finances. The British Council’s IELTS Prize

family, earned him the top IELTS prize for Southeast Asia.

helped my dream come true, as I could go to another country to study and explore the world and myself,” Hung said.

Only in contact with the British Council for a short time, Hung was quickly impressed with its friendly, professional and community-

“The British Council provides opportunities for young people to

oriented environment. At the IELTS award presentation, one

get to know what is like to study in a multicultural environment

of the judges told Hung that she loved his presentation on

and in an advanced education system like that in the UK. Through

his neighborhood and hoped that Hung would continue to

English classes and competitions, you are offered the chance to

work in the spirit of always looking toward the community in

reach out to the world and network with international friends. I

everything he does. The judge’s comment was encouraging and

believe that this is highly influential, not just for individuals, but

set an expectation that deeply affected Hung. Indeed, to this

for the country as a whole as Vietnam is on a path of increasing

day, he always tries to find the connections between what he

regional and international integration. A younger generation that is

is learning and contemporary change in Vietnam, the UK and

dynamic, proficient in the English language and equipped to work

elsewhere. For this reason, Hung chose academic disciplines

for transnational companies in multicultural environments is an

associated with community and sustainable development.

absolute necessity if the country is to continue to develop rapidly.”

With the IELTS Prize his, study in the UK – something Hung had

Now a member of the Nottingham based Vietcentric

often imagined through the pages of the famed Harry Potter

entrepreneurship organisation, Hung has a keen interest in

novels, now became a dream he could live out in real life.

projects focused on supporting and growing social enterprises like those that the British Council is taking the lead on promoting

After three years at Nottingham, and the constant stream

in Vietnam. Hung is hopeful that these efforts will increase in

of new impressions that came with it, Hung feels that his

scale and impact overtime, achieving strong outcomes that will

knowledge has become more comprehensive. He has also

help to create positive change for the community. He is confident

had the chance to meet and work with talented individuals

this will happen because these projects are driven by the same

from all corners of the world, inspiring him both in life and in

community-focused, sustainable development aspirations

his studies. This has opened up many new opportunities.

underlying all of the British Council’s activities in Vietnam.

2015 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Council helps develop international standards for Vietnamese journalists Ta Bich Loan Well-known journalist Ta Bich Loan, Chairwoman of the Journalist Association Charter at Vietnam Television, has been

One of the projects that Vietnam Television (VTV) is a beneficiary of and one that Loan values highly is MediaNet – a project that develops the skills of young Vietnamese journalists. The project was rolled out by the British Council in partnership

very proactive in projects that involve

with the Vietnam News Agency between 2005 and 2007

training and capacity building for the

a time described by Loan as “filled with journalists lacking

and was designed and launched at an opportune moment,

Vietnamese media in cooperation with

professional training who would just have to learn on the job.”

the British Council. With financial support

The training brought several leading journalists in socially influential

from the British Embassy, these projects helped to bring Vietnamese journalism closer to international standards and also offer long-term benefits.

shows to VTV. The course training manual – the MediaNet Handbook – is Loan’s favourite, and she asked for as many as possible, about 50 books, to share with the VTV Journalist Association Charter. She encouraged everyone to read the book carefully, because “even journalism schools probably do not help journalists put together such concise and standardised rules,” she commented.

2005 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Medianet helps raise media benchmark expectations, is easy to understand and offers an approach that is closer to international standards.

2008 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

For Loan, there is another project of monumental importance to

Loan believes that if they are developed further, the

VTV that also has the British Council’s footprint – the development

Codes will have even more spillover effect.

of the Vietnam Television Standard Operating Rules. Loan is currently heading up the Entertainment Show on national She depicted what journalism in Vietnam at that time (2008)

TV channel VTV3 – the network with the highest rating in Vietnam.

looked like:

She is also the creator of such high quality, long-running TV shows as The path to Olympia and Contemporary people. She

“As Vietnam had just joined the World Trade Organization (WTO),

has also had great success in developing VTV6, the first national

new economic opportunities opened up before its untrained

youth TV channel and he was listed by Forbes Vietnam as

eyes. At the same time, Vietnam was opening its doors to the

among the 50 most influential women in the country in 2017.

Internet and this created an information revolution with access to international knowledge now readily available. All that resulted in new demand across various sectors, including in journalism. Vietnamese journalism wanted to reach a level of quality closer to international standards, and everyone saw that it was time to change, to open their minds to new ways of doing things.” It was then that the need for professional journalistic standards was raised in Vietnam. The British Council, in collaboration with the Vietnam Journalism Association, drafted the Journalism Code of Ethics for local journalists. Based on that intital set of standards, Loan put her own efforts into developing a dedicated code for VTV . Working with Professor Paul from London University and with the support of the British Council, VTV succeeded in establishing its own Code, a success that she and her colleagues remain rightly proud of. In Loan’s opinion, these professional standards have helped to establish more specific and consistent professional norms than existed previously. Vietnamese members of the press now share a voice when they go out to the world through, for example, new provisions on privacy, child rights and interests, and accurate and fair reporting. With the support of the British Council, Loan and her team started holding workshops to disseminate the Codes. It was an explosive success when VTV unveiled the Codes at the National Television Festival in November 2008. The event rallied media representatives from all 63 provinces and the Codes were enthusiastically welcomed by television stations throughout the country. The Codes remain valid to this day. Despite being modified and updated, most core tenets remain intact.

Once a journalistic code is available, reporters can guide one another to avoid or correct mistakes, and therefore do a better job.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Supporting social enterprises

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Advocating for Social Enterprise Legislation Dr Nguyen Dinh Cung Dr Nguyen Dinh Cung is the first Vietnamese policy maker to promote social enterprise in Vietnam and is

The partnership officially started with a survey of the SE context in Vietnam, the UK and other countries in Southeast Asia. Development policies for SE pioneered by the UK were also examined, with a view to identifying those that could be applied to

also a trailblazer who has been there

Vietnam. From this survey, Dr Cung was inspired by human-centric

side by side with the British Council

also addressing social and environmental issues. He became a

championing efforts to integrate

business models, which aim to generate economic returns while trailblazer in the drafting and integration of SE-specific legislation for the revised 2014 Enterprise Law and in doing so helped create

social enterprise-specific content into

a legal framework and wider sector ecosystem for SE that would

the revised 2014 Enterprise Law.

to prosper. Throughout this process, the British Council stood

allow smaller socially and environmentally responsible businesses shoulder-to-shoulder with Cung and his team, providing case studies

In the eyes of the social enterprise community in Vietnam, Dr

from the UK as evidence of the success of SEs in the UK and the

Cung, head of the Central Institute for Economic Management

positive impact they have had on economic development there.

(CIEM), is the founding father and ambassador of social enterprise (SE) in the legal system. The 2009–2014 period

Enshrined in law, SEs in Vietnam are now formally recognised.

was a memorable time for him and the SE community.

In fact, Vietnam has some of the most forward-thinking SE legislation in the region. Social enterprises are encouraged and

It all began in March 2009 when the British Council introduced the

legal frameworks facilitate stronger and more equitable growth

concept of social enterprise to Vietnam for the first time. It was

than before, as previous legislation had focused more heavily on

also when Dr Cung watched a story on British television in 2009

rigid adherence to regulations designed for different corporate

talking about a type of business unaffected by the global economic

entities, leaving little space for social enterprises to flourish.

crisis, one that could prosper and even resolve the problems emerging from the meltdown. As a policy maker sensitive to the

Dr Cung is also the author of a series of laws vital to economic

social implications of acute economic downturns as experienced

restructuring. He started his career at CIEM in 1983, the dawn of

during the crisis, Cung saw right away that this was something

Vietnam’s transition to Đổi Mới, a series of market liberalisation

that Vietnam might need. And so he got together with the British

reforms that occurred throughout the 1980s and 1990s. These

Council to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that has helped

reforms are largely credited with facilitating the impressive

the social enterprise community to grow sustainably ever since.

economic growth rates and accompanying increases in living standards that occurred during this period. Key legislation

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Cung drafted included the 1987 Foreign Investment Law, the 1990 Private Business Law and the 1999 Enterprise Law. He is also a man influenced by British education. He completed his graduate studies in the UK in 1992. In 1994, Cung returned to the UK on a Chevening scholarship, studying for a Master’s degree sponsored by the UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and coordinated by the British Council. Building on ten successful years of Vietnam-specific policy making and research, these international courses helped Cung access multiple perspectives on market lead development trajectories, re-invigorating his approach to law-making.



Cooperation is enduring and meaningful Nguyen Quang Vinh Mr Nguyen Quang Vinh worked at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) for 26 years, rising from officer to General Secretary. This equals the 26 year development of the VCCI – British Council partnership, commencing

“Not many people could speak English in those days. That was where the British Council came in with its English classes delivered to the key personnel of the VCCI, companies or ministerial officials. These proved invaluable.” In addition to that, the British Council was also active in supporting key personnel of the VCCI to gain access to the Chevening scholarship offered by the British Foreign Affairs Ministry. Vinh and quite a few VCCI leaders in their various terms of office

when the British Council was preparing

received the Chevening scholarship, which gave them long-

to open an office in Hanoi. Both

Master in Business Administration, majoring in International

sides have long supported Vietnam’s development, helping to deliver meaningful outcomes for the business climate and individual stakeholders.

lasting values from studying in the UK. Mr Vinh completed his Business and Export Governance, at Cass Business School, one of the top business administration colleges in the United Kingdom. Most important to Vinh, more so than the information gained from the lessons, was the new and scientific approach to knowledge. There were also other useful skills, for example time management, teamwork, proactive thinking and communication in a multi-cultural environment. These skills helped him become more successful and balanced in work and life.

Mr Nguyen Quang Vinh started to work at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in 1992 as an officer of the

Another salient contribution the British Council made to

International Relations Division for the UK and the USA. This

the VCCI and the local business climate, highly credited

was also the time that the British Council was preparing for

by General Secretary Nguyen Quang Vinh, was taking the

its official presence in Vietnam. Vinh can still recall directly

lead in assisting relevant agencies to introduce the social

assisting with the installation of the British Council Hanoi office.

enterprise (SE) concept into Vietnamese Enterprise Law.

The two parties first cooperated on the English classes.

Vinh explained: “Social enterprises are created to solve social

From Vinh’s perspective, Vietnam had only just begun

and environmental issues. If they are set up well, it is not only

to open its doors to the region and the world and

very good economically but also contributes to social security. In

needed workers who could speak English well:

order to grown, they need to be prioritised by various authorities

1993 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


2014 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


at different levels. Because social enterprise was a new concept

A multilateral networking initiative that Vinh wants to highlight

known to Vietnam no longer than 5–6 years, it had no legal platform.

was the British Council’s collaboration with the VCCI to create

The British Council, in partnership with the VCCI, the Ministry of

the UKAV (the Association of Former Vietnamese Students in

Planning and Investment, and the Central Institute for Economic

the UK). He felt that the UKAV was working very well, engaging

Management, helped embed the social enterprise concept in

thousands of its members through such activities as sports,

Enterprise Law. Social enterprises, previously unaccepted, now

inter-cultural exchanges, and trade promotion. “It was one of the

began to develop. The British Council was active in providing

efforts where I gave great credit to BC and the British Embassy

counsel, sending local senior officials on study visits to the UK,

in their cooperation with Vietnamese agencies,” Vinh said.

and bringing experts from the UK to attend forums on sustainable development. This helped businesses provide more sources of

Through his long-term vision, Mr Vinh was committed to his role of

reference for Vietnam before embracing the concept in its law.”

promoting sustainable values for businesses and moving toward achievement of Social Development Goals. One can be sure that

Mr Vinh said that SE was one of the core pillars of business

the British Council shares the same goals and path and will keep

sustainable development and social responsibility. The VCCI

working “for a long time, persistently and actively” with the VCCI.

and the Business Council for Sustainable development – a VCCI initiative – were promoting these in Vietnam to help the economy achieve its Sustainable Development Goals from the UN agenda for 2030. Thus, social enterprise was always an important agenda item at National Meetings on Sustainable Development (the first held in 2014). The British Council actively supported these by sending experts from the UK to speak at the forum, which helped enhance the awareness of local businesses in creating values consistent with Sustainable Development Goals.

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a long history of cooperation with the British Council. Both sides have helped create a great deal of added value through exchange of education, trade promotion and culture between the two countries.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Council is a driver for entrepreneurship and social innovation Assoc Prof Dr Truong Thi Nam Thang The Centre for Social Innovation and

The Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CSIE)

Entrepreneurship (CSIE) at the National

and financial assistance from the British Council. When the UK’s

Economics University is the first ever

was founded as the direct result of advocacy work and technical social enterprise model was introduced to the National Economics University in 2012, it was still a new conceptual framework in Vietnam. The British Council however, was active in providing

organisation to promote innovative

support through capacity building workshops and study visits

enterprise with society’s interests at

to the UK, as well as in championing the integration of the model

the core among universities in Vietnam.

and associated concepts into university curricula. Intrigued by

Centre Director, Assoc Prof Dr Truong

Prof Nam Thang has worked with the British Council from the

Thi Nam Thang values the role the British

in the next generation of business people as well as amongst

the new research and teaching methodologies shared, Assoc outset in an effort to engender a spirit of entrepreneurship both

Council has played in establishing and

economic administrators. As a result of her efforts and with

promoting connections that have allowed

April 2017 with a focus on three key areas – research, education,

the Centre to grow and thrive, becoming

strong support from the university board, CSIE was formed in and promoting entrepreneurialism among young people.

an integral part of the entrepreneurship

Now just a little over a year into its operation, CSIE is growing

ecosystem in Vietnam today.

terms of financing and expertise. With its long-standing reputation,

and thriving thanks to the British Council’s strong support both in the British Council offers many opportunities for CSIE to build connections with major universities in places like the UK, France, USA and Canada. It can also support CSIE in establishing contacts

2012 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


with other global institutions with similar agendas such as the

of a proposed project on Supporting the National Entrepreneurship

UNDP and can facilitate networking opportunities with a host of

and Innovation Ecosystem by 2025, or Project 844.

social enterprises in the UK and other countries. The strategic partnership between the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact

Many opportunities have also been made available to Assoc Prof

(ISII), Northampton University and CSIE is a clear demonstration

Nam Thang. She is a member of the Ministry of Education and

of the success of UK–Vietnam cooperation in this area. Over

Training counselling board for the student entrepreneurship

the past year, CSIE and ISII have worked together on national

focused Project 1665, and is also a member of the British Council’s

research projects related to social enterprise, and will continue

advisory board for a Southeast Asia social enterprise project that

to do so, coaching students undertaking SE research, organising

will run throughout the period 2018–2021. “I want to inspire young

research exchanges, and opening Vietnam’s first Impact Hub – an

people so that social enterprise becomes no longer an option,

incubation centre for impact-exerting start-ups. CSIE is also set to

but a must-do, as sustainable development is today,” said Thang.

launch a Master’s training programme on social innovation, and a number of universities, along with the British Council, have already

Obviously, the British Council has been very successful in

committed to running annual workshops on social enterprise and

identifying and supporting key actors like Thang whose

social innovation. These workshops are a space where Vietnamese

passion and leadership has been pivotal in cultivating an

academics can connect with international colleagues and business

increased focused on social enterprise in Vietnam.

people, with participation in this initiative increasing year on year. By tapping all available resources in the UK and Southeast With the British Council reliably by its side, CSIE is slowly spreading

Asia, CSIE is determined to inspire young people to take

far and wide a spirit of entrepreneurship and social innovation

action. Thang is confident that in the not too distant

among young people. Just over a year after its inception, CSIE

future, her dream of social enterprises contributing

was able to train 25 social innovation source trainers across

1 per cent of Vietnamese GDP will come true.

the country, with a number of participants sent to study in the UK and elsewhere in the region. These 25 seed facilitators will in turn train 300 students and young social entrepreneurs. Among other exciting initiatives is the Vietnamese Youth for Social Innovation Challenge held by CSIE and the British Council in the first half of 2018. The event attracted 15 domestic and international partners with hundreds of young participants submitting more than 100 social entrepreneurship proposals – the largest competition to date in Vietnam in this field. Assoc Prof Nam Thang strongly believes that all the above efforts make CSIE a source of prestige for the National Economics University, as talking about CSIE means talking about the university and vice versa. The university has taken a leading role in sharing partnership opportunities with many other in-country universities, allowing them too to get involved in social innovation work, increase expertise and create more opportunities for students. Numerous opportunities for cooperation have also come to CSIE and the university since the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment approved the Project Request for Supporting Student Entrepreneurship by 2025 (Project 1665 for short) with more opportunities to come in the form

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Not many international organisations are as close to their partners when capacity building as the British Council. More often than not, they simply provide the finances and verify final outcomes, whereas the British Council remains in lockstep with you and vice versa, hence the very close partner relationship and optimal use of resources.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The British Council supports Kym Viet on its path to professionalisation Pham Viet Hoai In the small Kym Viet Co. workshop, employees with disabilities are working

market quality products consumers love, not one that “relied on the disability factor to seek compassion from buyers”.

diligently. Under their hands, products

Success did not come easily for such a company. Fortunately,

like stuffed animals and cloth neck-

since its inception. British Council has provided training activities

pillows slowly take shape and come to life. These products help them earn a regular income and enjoy other job-related benefits like any other normal worker. From day one, they have had the support and commitment of the

the British Council has been working alongside Kym Viet almost and workshops on governance capacity for social enterprises, in addition to providing the company with moral support in the pursuit of their agenda of recognition based on quality of goods and services provided, rather than on the status of founders and employees as members of the disabled community. When the British Council visited Kym Viet in 2014, the company’s premises – headquarters and workshop – was comprised of two rented rooms just a little larger than ten square metres. There were two employees, two basic sewing machines, one

British Council, both in terms of business

binding sewing machine and one iron brought from home.

administration capacity building and

close adherence to any formal professional standards.

The company was running rather spontaneously, without

moral support – vital factors contributing

Kym Viet chairman Pham Viet Hoai, said that training opportunities

to Kym Viet’s success today.

we have standard operating procedures in place. For example,

with the British Council helped professionalise his company. “Now when we have an order coming in, everyone knows who will get the

Kym Viet was founded in late December 2013 by three people

fabrics, who will do the binding, the cutting and sewing, and so on,

with disabilities – Pham Viet Hoai, Le Viet Cuong and Nguyen

as a matter of routine. We were not that disciplined in the past when

Duc Minh. Right from the outset, the trio proudly asserted that

people did whatever they preferred. It took more time, we were

they were setting up shop like any other company that would

producing lower quality outputs and there was less professionalism.”

In terms of becoming more professional, Kym Viet has evolved over time. From its rented rooms in the early days, it moved to a one-story house about 50 square meters in size with a small yard. With more orders coming in, Kym Viet again moved to a new site in 2015 now with a workforce of seven or eight people. Toward the end of 2015, Kym Viet relocated again to its current headquarters, a four-storey complex with warehouse space, workshops, restrooms for employees, and an expanded staff of 18. With such progress, by 2015 Kym Viet was able to have its products certified as meeting “Quacert” / Vietnamese Standards Metrology and Quality Administration quality specifications. After acquiring this product quality validation, Kym Viet started to take on a wider range of purchase orders. Initially the three founding members had had only a single key sales channel – selling at trade fairs and sometimes earning only around VND500,000, – less than needed to cover basic food costs! As production capabilities started to increase, the range and size of buyers also increased, with clients now including a range of businesses from private souvenir shops to major companies such as Bibo Mart and Thang Long Aviation Services JS Co. Today, Kym Viet does not have to worry about ‘making ends meet every day. Workers earn an average income of VND3.5 million a month, not to mention the fuel, bus fare and free lunch the company offers. Another success no less important to Kym Viet is what the company has done to change both society’s preconception of what people with disabilities can do to contribute, as well as how those with disabilities perceive their own potential. “Most of those who started here lacked confidence in their ability to fully commit to their roles and meet company expectations. But working here is not like some other places. We encourage our staff to really work and push themselves to succeed. Nowadays the families of those original employees can all see that their children have developed into confident and professional adults with strong work ethics – a positive change in both mind and behaviour,” said Pham Viet Hoai. In 2016, Kym Viet was presented with the Social Enterprise Inclusivity Award by the British Council. To date, Kym Viet and the British Council still maintain a close relationship. In addition to its 18-strong core production staff, the Kym Viet team also includes its three founding members, a storekeeper and a cashier. This makes a total of 23 staff, all of whom are creating, sharing and enjoying Kym Viet’s values and commercial success, and the team is confident business will continue to grow in the future.

2014 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Cultural connections

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Joining hands to promote the cultural industry in Vietnam

Nguyen Phuong H Nguyen Phuong Hoa was clearly intrigued with the concepts of creative industry and cultural industry the British Council has unveiled in Vietnam since mid-2000. The Vice Director of the International Cooperation Department (ICD), Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MOCST) has since made positive contributions to the promotion of these concepts in Vietnam, underlined by the government’s recognition of the economic role of culture by approving the “Master plan for cultural industries in Vietnam by 2020 and vision to 2030”.


The British Council is a forerunner in introducing the concepts of creative industry and cultural industry in Vietnam.

in place, as external relations expand and the country gains a specific foothold in the international arena. With a more openminded outlook, a lot of skepticism and concerns have been removed and she felt lucky to be working in ICD so she can approach new things, as she clearly saw that MOCST could become a ‘leader’ for creative/cultural industry in Vietnam. Almost overzealous about the concept, the young Youth Union official in a MOCST debating competition among youth leaders, chose creative/cultural industry in the UK as an inspiring story line. She wanted to dig deep and transform the role the MOCST had to play in society. And that is also one of the reasons Hoa later chose the UK for her Master’s degree, majoring Cultural Policy and Art management. A long-lasting process of change has evolved. The former specialist was appointed to division assistant manager, division head and Vice Director of ICD and Hoa now continues to make recommendations


and collaborate with the British Council to send study missions of senior officials on creative/cultural industry to the UK and numerous in-country roundtables and workshops, as she believes changes should happen from the top-down, with growing awareness and capacity for departmental agencies. She has also energetically shared her creative/cultural industry knowledge with management, involved herself in the coordination and mobilisation of resources

Nguyen Phuong Hoa said that one of the greatest successes in

from the ministry and other relevant agencies to advocate for

entering into a partnership with the British Council was introducing

the government’s acceptance in developing the “Master plan for

the concept of Creative industry/Cultural industry in Vietnam.

cultural industry in Vietnam by 2020 and vision to 2030”. As a result, the government approved the plan in 2016 and creative/

Since 2005, the British Council has been sending specialists to

cultural industry was made official in Vietnam. “Over the past

Vietnam to work with the MOCST to hold roundtables on creative/

decade, from awareness to the release of formal directives, the

cultural industries under the auspices of the Creative Britain

British Council has been there with us all the way,” Hoa said.

initiative. Hoa, then a young and energetic Youth Union officer of the ICD, MOCST felt she was ‘enlightened’ by the experience from the

“The strategy was most successful in broadening awareness, as

UK. She saw it as an opportunity to change the awareness of not just

the top leadership saw the role of culture in the developmental

the leaders and policy-makers, but society on the role of culture.

landscape. The policy, however, still remains on paper as specific

“Culture in Vietnam has been viewed as a realm of the mind, and

funding or relevant action plans to generate changes are not yet in

many people often see the MOCST as simply about entertainment

existence. As such, external support from such organisations as the

and spending money. The creative industry or cultural industry,

British Council through specific programmes will be invaluable,” Hoa

on the other hand, pictures culture as a money-making business

said. One of the case studies she highly values and supports is the

that is moving fast and contributing to the economy. Recent

British Council’s Creative Space Project. She believes that creative

studies also indicate that cultural industries sometimes grow

spaces are grounds to nurture, meet, share understandings and

even two or three times faster than conventional industries.”

drive creation, and thus are indispensable for cultural industry.

Hoa also believes the creative/cultural industry notion was

There is much to be done going forward and Hoa, the former young

introduced in Vietnam at the right time. Nearly two decades after

officer with a dream to transform the “role of the Ministry of Culture

Đổi Mới, Vietnam has certain economic development foundations

in society”, is confident that these great efforts will yield results.

2018 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

From the British Council, there is an international networking foundation for Monsoon Music Festival Quoc Trung

Music composer Quoc Trung crossed

The first time music composer Quoc Trung coordinated with the

path with the British Council in 2013

British Council was when he was invited to join the World Music Expo

when he was searching and building

(Womex) in Wales in 2013. On that occasion, he planned to organise the Monsoon Festival. With this cooperation and the fundamental

Monsoon – the only annual international high-quality music festival in Vietnam.

support, the British Council laid an essential international foundation for the only international music festival in Vietnam. “At that moment, I struggled and was confused about which bands

Thanks to a festival tour visit to the

I should include, how many bands to invite and what the capacity

UK and support to invite young artists

Monsoon Festival. Thanks to the British Council, I had confidence

should be. The British Council offered to sponsor bands for the

to perform at Monsoon by the British

there would be international bands at Monsoon 2014. After joining

Council, the Monsoon Music Festival has

happy when it came to Vietnam and not only performed, but also

brought new values and opened doors

the festival, I selected 9bach band from Wales to perform. I was so joined the launching event with Vietnamese artists, ” said Trung.

for connecting, studying and fine-tuning

Trung highly appreciated the support to invite UK bands to

music between Vietnam and the world.

cities have big and small festivals, when the artists go on tour.

Vietnam. He explained: “In Europe, they have summer, many

They have many shows and production costs are normally more affordable. In Vietnam, the scenario is different. In Asia, there is little connection between the countries, distance and seasons. Not to mention the difference between Vietnam’s music market and the world. If the band only performs once at a festival, it will be quite impossible to make it happen. Therefore, support to invite a band to Vietnam sponsored by the British Council is really valuable.” However, cooperation and support does not only end at “the cost to invite a music band”, but also connecting to enhance the meaning and value of a festival from different perspectives. An important aspect is support and appreciation for young artists, noticed by Trung at UK festivals and applied at Monsoon to gradually create a habit of supporting young artist and new music: “When you are an audience you should have patience, unconditionally support, encouragement for young artists. There are some unique bands whose performances may not be perfect or experienced, but the audience’s patience, the way the audience appreciates their “imperfection” made me really impressed. Only when people form a habit to support new creations can the development of art evolve. At Monsoon, I want to introduce young artists who have quality products, but have not gained fame yet and step-by-step form the habit of supporting young generation, and new things.” An another important aspect when cooperating with the British Council is to broaden knowledge, help music composers like Trung keep an eye on world music developments and have opportunities to connect with artists based not only in the UK, but also other countries. From 2013 to present, every year music composer Trung has received invitations to crucial music festivals in the UK such as The Great Escape, a festival for young artists all over the world or the Covergence Festival in London for electronic dance music and experience new technology applications. He said: “I have the chance to connect with music producers, organisers from many countries such as Estonia, Greece, Korea and Japan. These trips have helped me share ideas like Asia Music Connection – a forum to share information between festival organisers in Asia.” Looking forward to Monsoon in the future, Trung said there would be conferences to introduce regional festival organisers and producers to understand the demand and further development.

2013 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Inspiring and educating the next generation of artists Thanh Bui

Australian–Vietnamese artist and businessman Thanh Bui and the Soul Music & Performing Arts Academy and Trinh Cong Son’s Scholarship Foundation he co-founded have engaged in a strong partnership with the British

The two singers quickly understood each other and performed well when on one stage. Thanh said: “My students at that time had turned from astonished to amused. The programme inspired and motivated them to develop themselves, especially when they knew Rukhsana Merrrise was a finance student who one day stopped her study and was determined to become a singer and gained success. With Thanh, British Council support for Trinh Cong Son’s Scholarship Foundation is also a positive story. “Currently,

Council. In the music education system

Trong Nhan from Trinh Cong Son’s Scholarship Foundation

he established, all certificates have

And in the next three to five years, the British Council will

strong connections with UK partners,

has received an English scholarship from the British Council. continue to support 10 other students,” said Thanh.

underlining Thanh Bui’s belief in the UK.

Thanh and the UK have enjoyed further quality collaborations.

Thanh Bui said he would never forget his first collaboration

officially became the first training and examination centre in

with the British Council Vietnam when he was invited to

Vietnam for the world-leading music examination council Trinity

perform at the UK Alumi Vietnam Gala event in 2013. Soul

College London in 2013 after one year in Vietnam. Since then,

Music & Performing Arts Academy (SMPAA) had also become

alongside with Trinity, SMPAA has also collaborated with other

the location for this special event in Ho Chi Minh City.

leading prestigious music and choreography examination

The most remarkable achievement is probably when SMPAA

councils in the world like Associated Board of the Royal Schools After this event, there were fresh collaborations between Thanh and

of Music – ABRSM, Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing

the British Council. For example, a young artist from the UK named

(ISTD) and National Association of Teachers of Dancing. SMPAA

Rukhsana Merrise had a live performance on Soul Live Project

is also proud to be the first dancing examination council in Asia

stage in 2016 with Bich Ngoc Idol – a student studying at SMPAA.

to be recognised by ISTD, taught by ISTD certified teachers.

With a strong relationship in the last five years with the British Council, partners from the UK and music and art education system founded by Thanh Bui, young Vietnamese artists are well set for the future.

Besides, Young Lyricíst students from SMPAA are also proud to be the first representative in Vietnam and the only representative in Asia to attend the world’s biggest choreography event organised by prestigious British choreography organisations at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2017. And that was one of the desire to introduce Vietnam to the world through music and art performance of Thanh and Dr Alexander Tu Talking about his future plans, Thanh said that Asia Music & Performing Arts Education (AMPA Education), he founded, will provide thousands of rooms for primary schools in Vietnam to study music and train music teachers, especially in remote areas. This project started in Vinh Long province in the 2018 school year. With a strong relationship in the last five years with the British Council, partners from the UK and music and art education system founded by Thanh, young Vietnamese artists are well set for the future.

2013 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


The British Council’s influence and reach are more deep-seated and wide-ranging than I first imagined.

British Council and “Every Kilometre of the way” Vu Thao

Vu Thao is a designer, founder and owner of the all-natural fashion brand Kilomet109. She won the British Council’s

The YCE Award supported Thao in many ways, and had more implications than she ever imagined: “When such an organisation as the British Council – an intellectual community – steps in to help you, you must be very lucky. Vietnamese fashion is often

Young Creative Entrepreneur in Design/

stereotyped as more look than substance, and when it is recognised

Fashion Award in 2014. And ever since,

definition of the occupation has also been more serious. Through

Kilomet 109 has grown more successful

by the intellectual world, its value will grow exponentially. My the British Council, I got to know the research community, doing research for materials, design, sociology, economics and so on,

and the bond between her and the

and my brand shapes itself over time into a model for people not

British Council has also flourished.

Kilomet 109 greater depth and I myself also feel more confident.”

just from the same community to ‘look closely into’. That gives

The British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE) in Design/

Two years later, Kilomet109 widened partnerships with a group

Fashion Award was unveiled just in time as “Vietnam needs

of artisans, quadrupled its operation and simultaneously

designers who are also skilled business people”, rather than just

finished the PHIEU (psychedelia) Collection. Thao was invited

showmanship. For this reason Vu Thao entered the competition

by the British Council to work with the New for Old project to

with Kilomet109, a high-end, modern and delicate fashion

promote the designer’s bond with the local artisan community,

product line made from woven and died organic materials.

with activities consisting of the launch of the PHIEU Collection through a multimedia exhibition (fashion, photography and

The British Council 2014 Award brought Thao to the UK to attend

illustration) financed by the British Council. The exhibition

global design classes and workshops in London, and learned a

left a significant mark, as it introduced an in-depth and more

lot from experts on not just designing but also business, brand

multifaceted perspective on artisanship and modern designing,

building, design technology, trending and creative design

where artisan materials are no longer considered artistic

thinking. “That was a very professional and practical move by

products. For Thao, this was a major and meaningful project.

the British Council,” said Thao, it was exactly what she needed. The British Council kept its relationship with Thao very much alive through the Crafting Future project and the Craft and Design

2014 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Challenge 2017 competition, where she was invited to attend as a competitor counselor to teach manual working procedures to local artisans. Up to that point, Thao realised her partnership with the British Council had become more of a ‘spider web’ over time. Thao valued the depth and long-term goals of these British Council design and artisanship projects. Other projects Thao knew did not have sustainable implications after phase-out, where artisans did not have ownership and instead, just worked as cogs in a machine and would not know what to do next after the projects ended. On the other hand, the British Council acts as an incubator as it concentrates on training and skilling in multiple steps and uses designers to establish a link with artisans to achieve a better vision, while providing the ability to self-question, self-support, proactively search for markets and learn know more about designing. “Their views of their occupation will then be much different, as they are more decisive, better value their handicraft profession, and respect their cultural positions more,” Thao observed. With training, project participants can earn better income, rather than a fixed amount from the project. Creation of ownership for artisans was the best value the British Council had to offer, said Thao. When this story was taking shape, Thao was in the UK attending the influential design event London Design Biennale with fellow artists to unveil modern multimedia fashion-art from Vietnam to the international public. It was not a direct partnership with the British Council, but came from an event that she jointly engaged in with the British Council, which again reflects the ‘spider web’ nature of the relationship. Back in Vietnam, Thao will launch the next Kilomet109 collection. After every collection, the artisan team she is working with will grow in size and geographic catchment, while Kilomet 109’s clientele and distribution system also widens over time, in Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Europe and the United States.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

The wow effect at the WOW Festival Dr Le Thi Thuy Hoan British Council support turned a dream to attend the WOW (Women of the World) festival – a series of events in London

“I have been to workshops in many countries, but I was just blown away when I came to WOW. This was a gender equality event, and tickets were sold out a week in advance,” said Dr Hoan. In the Vietnam context, this is something different “when people have to

that honours and shares the problems of

buy tickets to watch and listen about gender equality”. When she

women all over the world – a reality for

were no vacant seats and many people were sitting on the floor.

Dr Le Thi Thuy Hoan. Normally based at

came to the meeting hall where the WOW Summit took place, there

After nearly a week “carried away” in WOW activities,

the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, the

she understood why WOW was so engaging.

2018 trip delivered the ‘wow’ effect with

At the WOW Summit, the appeal came from touching presentations

an overwhelmingly inspiring experience.

candidate and a mother-of-five writing books on gender equality.

from a wide range of speakers, including an Ireland presidential On to the focal presentation session, the appeal lied in the most

Dr Le Thi Thuy Hoan, head of communications at the Vietnamese

“trivial” topics, sometimes things that were “sensitive” but practical,

Women’s Museum, had a lot to say about her trip to the WOW

like how public toilets in India might affect women’s learning and

(Women of the World) festival in London in March 2018. WOW

career development or why the funnel-shaped sanitary pads was

is an annual international event that honours the achievements

a great invention that relieved burdens on women. The stories

of women and girls around the world, while also discussing

helped blow the steam off, moderate preconceptions and drive

solutions to problems that women encounter. Launched in

expedient changes. In Vietnam, however, such occasions are

the UK, it takes place every year on International Women’s

normally held in common ways by sending flowers and presents

Day (March 3) and has now spread across many nations.

to guests and giving a speech focused on tradition, Hoan said.

Through networking efforts and sponsorship from the

“From WOW, I learned how to choose topics, develop and resolve

British Council, Dr Hoan was invited to the WOW Summit as a

the story,” she said. Inspired by the festival, she instantly came

representative of Vietnam to give a presentation on museums

up with initiatives on where the Women’s Museum should be

reaching out to vulnerable women’s groups. The time for

heading, including reaching out to partners. Concrete results

preparation was just before the Lunar New Year holiday, when

came in November 2018, with the Women’s Museum and UN

the departure date was nearing. After listening to what she

Women launching an event for students, with children and adults

had to say through her concept paper, the British Council

invited (including homosexuals, ethnic minority people and those

took action for Dr Hoan to embark on her WOW trip.

with disabilities), giving Pecha Kucha-type presentations (story telling through visual slides) on gender equality. Another initiative she is working on with UNESCO is also taking shape, in the form

of conversations among students to improve understanding on gender and sex. Many more exciting plans will go live in the near future. Importantly, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum is in talks with the British Council and other partners to seek a permit for application of the WOW model in Vietnam. She is examining and learning from WOW organisational techniques to create a strong appeal, just like what she received from the trip. “We must empower women to speak, not just inviting them over to listen about the how the Trung sisters started the uprising in the past. Activities need to help them address their needs or issues.” she said. Dr Hoan said her trip to WOW was a heart-warming experience, and the follow-on connections with the British Council and other partners were an inspiring way to come up with new strategies. “The museum is affiliated to the Vietnam Women’s Union and has over 16 million members – a force to be reckoned with that can create wide-ranging impacts,” she said.

2017 2018 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

British Council values

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together



Cultural values without geographical boundaries Giles Lever

Beatle-mania in Hanoi. In the 1990s, before Vietnam got the internet, it was less easy to find shared points of cultural experience than it is today. I would often mention to a Vietnamese friend a famous Western actor or

so as soon as I heard about it I went down to the lake to watch. I found myself unexpectedly moved by the sight of a hundred or so young Vietnamese walking slowly together while singing, with great emotion and feeling, Lennon songs such as Imagine and Give Peace A Chance. It showed that some forms of culture cross all boundaries of geography, time and nationality. Football

singer, only to be met by looks of

Besides the Beatles, the other thing guaranteed to cut through

incomprehension. But one British

Vietnamese people is, and always has been, football. I first realised

name everybody knew: the Beatles.

any boundaries of language or nationality between British and that Vietnamese people were just as football-mad as the English during the World Cup in 1994. Every night, the road outside my house in Ba Trieu would fill up with impromptu 5-a-side games

In 1997, the former ambassador David Fall decided to throw a

– easily possible, since there were so few cars on the streets in

much bigger and more lavish Queen’s Birthday Party than we

those days – before people headed off to watch the World Cup

had ever done before. This was held at the Residence at 15 Phan

on TV. I often used to venture down and join in the street games,

Chu Trinh. Some clever person (not me!) at the Embassy or the

where I always received the warmest of welcomes from the

British Council managed to find a Vietnamese Beatles tribute

Vietnamese players, who were often remarkably well informed

group. They were note-perfect, and the assembled Vietnamese

about British football, despite it rarely being on Vietnamese TV at

and British guests ended up dancing the night away to a selection

the time (I will always remember my Vietnamese teacher’s husband

of Beatles hits. But another event in the same year made an

correcting me over a particular English striker’s first club).

even bigger impression on me: a procession around Hoan Kiem Lake by a group of Vietnamese students to commemorate the

It was in the same year that together with a group of mostly

anniversary of John Lennon’s death. Any kind of march or public

expatriate friends, I became a co-founder of the Hanoi Capitals

gathering by ordinary people was extremely rare in those days,

Football Club. We played year-round friendly matches against

2014 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


any Vietnamese opponents we could find, mostly in Hanoi, but also sometimes in places like Mai Chau (not yet established then as a backpacker destination) and Lang Son. Football gave us a chance to see parts of Vietnam, and to befriend and mix with local people (first in the games, then over bia hoi and ruou afterwards) which we would have not have had otherwise. Of course, we have since seen many more examples of the enduring attraction of football – and particularly the Premier League – in Vietnam, such as the visit by Arsenal which became famous for the devoted Vietnamese fan known as “running man”. With footballers from South Korea and Japan having broken into the Premier League, I hope within my lifetime to see a Vietnamese player pull on the shirt of one of the UK’s most famous teams. Or perhaps a Vietnamese investor in my hometown team, Bolton Wanderers. Exploring together Son Doong cave. Unbeknownst to me, while I was in Vietnam as a young diplomat in the 90s, an intrepid group of British cavers (mostly from Yorkshire, the heartland of British caving) was busy starting to explore and map the amazing cave systems of north and west Vietnam. Meanwhile, a few years earlier, a local man from Quang Binh, Mr Ho Khanh, had discovered the entrance of what appeared to be an extremely large cave while sheltering from a storm in the jungle. He had then moved away from the area and forgot the location. But he and the British cavers were eventually introduced to each other, and at their encouragement, he spent several years trying to rediscover the entrance. Eventually, in 2009, he did so, and the team, led by Howard Limbert, were able to explore what subsequently turned out to be the biggest cave (by volume) in the world. As someone who loves exploring nature and wilderness, it was an especial privilege for me to be able to join a tour of Son Doong in 2016 with a group of other foreign ambassadors, and to meet both Howard and Ho Khanh in person. The cave itself has to be seen to be believed – parts of it look more like an alien planet than anything you might expect to see on Earth. I’m always amazed to think that a place which is now rightly known as one of the great wonders of the natural world, and has rightly been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was still unknown during my first posting in Vietnam. And I’m proud to think that the story behind its exploration is really one of British–Vietnamese cooperation, with the British spirit of adventure and discovery combining with Vietnamese determination and resilience.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

These are cultural values that have no impediment to geographical boundaries, time or nationality.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Discovering the common threads of our humanity Paul Zetter

The hurriedly scribbled yellow post it note on my desk at the British Council in Manchester one morning in late

I was thrown from my bike which flew into the air and landed on top of me. Within seconds a circle of people had formed around

1997 had two words on it that changed

me blocking the traffic, looking at me on the floor as if I had just

my life forever – ‘Call Ian’. It referred

I now know to be miraculous, happened to me. Someone broke the

fallen to earth. Several more seconds passed and then something, circle and came to my aid. Singlehandedly a young Vietnamese

to previous British Council Vietnam

woman took control of the situation demonstrating leadership,

Country Director Ian Simm who had

courage, quick thinking, kindness, intelligence, compassion

interviewed me for the post of Assistant

universal qualities of being a human being lie and are revealed.

Director, Vietnam the week before – I

and selflessness. She stepped over a line to where the great

Within minutes, due to her skill, I had been made safe and was extracted from the crash site into a taxi on the way to the

had been successful and set the date

nearest hospital with what I now know were 5 broken bones in

to arrive in Vietnam in January 1998.

my leg, shoulder and back. As I was wheeled on a gurney into the emergency unit I looked back and she had disappeared.

My first three months were full of briefings, receptions, culture shock, Tet, home hunting and motorbike purchasing. I didn’t

As I lay in hospital in the UK at the start of what was to be six

fully understand my role but had faith that things would

months of rehabilitation and recovery, someone from the British

fall into place sooner or later. One Friday evening in early

Council asked me; ‘so where do you want to go next?’ assuming I

April there was a power cut in Quang Ba so I jumped on my

wouldn’t want to return to somewhere where I had experienced so

Dream and headed towards the center – towards the light.

much trauma. ‘Back to Vietnam of course’ I replied, knowing that

Half way there, just coming to the end of Hung Vuong Street

somehow part of me needed to go back and seek out those human

preparing to turn left by Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, I was hit

qualities in my life and my work in what we called cultural relations.

at great speed by two fourteen year olds on a motorbike.



I’m not sure if I succeeded to do this but I do know that I enjoyed seeking out people who had something different to say and different ways of expressing it. I did find those qualities in my wife and as we brought two children into the world, the fact that they have two passports each - one Vietnamese and one British, is a constant source of pride for us. Since those moments, being helped on a street in Hanoi by a stranger who didn’t need a thank you, I’ve believed that cultural exchange was about more than coming together to share differences, it is about discovering the common threads of our humanity. Paul Zetter was Assistant Director of British Council Vietnam from 1998–2002. Since then he has stayed in Vietnam to train people in arts in development and creativity and since 2005 to make films for the development sector in Vietnam and South East Asia. He has tried twice using newspapers and online media to find the woman who helped him on the street in 1998 but has not managed to find her, yet...

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Starting the ne with a posting

David Cordingley I arrived from an African posting as British Council Director Vietnam in June 2000 – a new millennium, new continent and new job. On my first day in the office I was struck by the fact that over 90 per cent of my new colleagues were young, female, and that most of them seemed to be expecting babies (perhaps I exaggerate slightly!). This turned out to be something of a metaphor for BC Vietnam more generally: the directorate was refreshingly young, dynamic and expanding. Vietnam itself was emerging from years of international isolation, and to build new and enduring links with the UK (which, of course, had never been a traditional partner for Vietnam) presented a stimulating challenge. To do all this we had some excellent projects. The thirst for English language was palpable, and our teaching centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and our examinations department were stretched to meet demand, particularly after we acquired “public” status to open our doors to paying customers. But our teachers were keen and enthusiastic and did some excellent work The English for Senior Officials Programme (ESOP), funded by the UK Government and delivered by the British Council, was a real flagship project and established enduring friendships.



ew millenium in Vietnam


We left Vietnam for London in June 2004, and subsequently moved on to Brazil and to South Africa. But nothing quite matched the excitement and pace of development of Vietnam.

One of the training cadres comprised military officers, and I well

on the Senior Management Team – taken for granted nowadays, but

remember attending the early morning graduation ceremonies

innovative back then. It was very rewarding to see how colleagues

in the Officers’ Mess – sharing a warm Bia Hanoi at 0830 with the

– a little anxious at first and therefore reluctant, perhaps, to assume

Colonel in charge. (This was a bit early in the day for me, but duty

new responsibilities – responded so competently. Patricia, Timothy

called....). On the arts side, our collaboration with the Vietnam

and I also have very fond memories of Tet holidays, when we would

National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO), led by Professor Colin

celebrate the Vietnamese new year invited to colleagues’ homes

Metters and our own Graham Sutcliffe – was ground-breaking. We

where we enjoyed excellent hospitality. Great company, food to

had some quite excellent evenings out at the Hanoi Opera House.

die for, and – I vaguely recall – no shortage of seasonal drinks! Tet in the UK – not a kumquat tree in sight! – is just not the same.

Expansion was physical, too. When I arrived in Hanoi the office was located in Cao Ba Quat, in a low-lying part of Hanoi notorious

We left Vietnam for London in June 2004, and subsequently

for flooding during the rainy season. On one of my first days in the

moved on to Brazil and to South Africa. But nothing quite

office I was ferried by cyclo through the flood waters from the car

matched the excitement and pace of development of

to my office – I think the waters had just about subsided by the

Vietnam. The very best of wishes for the next 25 years!

end of the working day. We were all pleased to move to larger and much more suitable premises in an annex to the Horison Hotel in Cat Linh, where our teaching, examinations, arts and education programmes could be managed within a properly integrated environment. Our information centre was always abuzz with young Vietnamese seeking to broaden their international horizons. In Ho Chi Minh City we also underwent a premises change, creating an excellent facility within a wing of the British Consulate. However, I think the most striking thing for me during my time in Vietnam was seeing how our Vietnamese staff developed in confidence and grew into their jobs. We established local staff roles

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

My youngest daughter shares her birthday with Ho Chi Minh and we could not be prouder.

Making a difference in people’s lives Robin Rickard Vietnam was my third international

and the Vice-President spoke to each of us in turn. I was at the end

posting and my first as a Country

of the line as I knew my place and when I was introduced she broke

Director. There are many single stories

into fluent and enthusiastic English because I was the British Council Director. As the jaws of her officials and interpreters dropped

told about Vietnam – “the American

she broke protocol and explained that she had learnt English at

War”, “great food” and “beautiful

not having invited her to our new premises as she was a proud

the British Council in the 1990s and then gently chastised me for alumna! Building trust and creating opportunity through English.

beaches” and Vietnamese people

Vietnam always felt like a place where you were encouraged to do

– “friendly” and “hard-working”.

something for the first time – we opened partner teaching centres in local schools; funded local artists through the country’s first

And while these are undoubtedly true there are so many

ever art auction; introduced social enterprise into the economy

more stories to tell. I now think of the Vietnamese as being

and changed the law along the way; sowed the seeds for an

more passionate about their country than anywhere else I

inaugural Vietnam-UK university in Da Nang. And in our very own

have ever lived and so personally and collectively committed

office we launched an internship scheme for disabled people

to making the future better than the past for their children

in partnership with a local disability organisation. None of my

and grandchildren. My youngest daughter shares her

colleagues dared to disagree with the Director championing of this

birthday with Ho Chi Minh and we could not be prouder.

initiative but I am not sure they thought it would ever happen until I announced that a new post of Personal Assistant to the Director

When Mark Kent the British Ambassador finished his term in the

would be given to our first intern, Giang Do. Making a difference

country, he was invited to mark the occasion at the Presidential

in people’s lives. Some of the (now employed) interns write to

Palace with the Vice President Madam Nguyen Thi Doan.

me on my birthday and at Tet. Making a difference in my life.

I accompanied him along with other senior folks from our Embassy

2009 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Working at the British Council is a turning point in career and life Luong Thi Thu Huong Luong Thi Thu Huong worked as an intern for British Council Country Director Robin Rickard from 2012– 2013. To her, it was the perfect place to work, a life-changing opportunity

Huong recalled that when she was asked by the British Council to come in for a job interview and saw such a professional work environment with a lot of expatriate staff, she initially felt scared as so much was new to her. But the friendliness and openness of everyone there, especially Director Robin Rickard, slowly removed Huong’s anxieties.

that gave a person with partial

Huong recalled that “Robin was a kindhearted, gentle

sight like her the confidence and

attention to detail. Robin taught me not to be rash. There

professional skills to have a better life. Until becoming an intern assistant to British Council Vietnam Country Director, Huong was a shy girl and not the extroverted and confident person she is now. That shyness stemmed from an incident that cost Huong the sight in her right eye at the age of 12. She was constantly targeted by peers and did not feel good about herself for many years. As Huong finished high school and came to Hanoi for work to cover the cost of her studies at the Open University, majoring in English, her shyness improved somewhat. She became more active in helping others, as she felt lucky not to have lost her eyesight completely like many other visually impaired

and understanding man. I learned from him the value of was so much work to do and sometimes I just tried to finish my work quickly without much checking. He showed me where I had made a mistake in order to learn from it.” At the British Council, like any other employee, Huong could learn English for free. Through her work, she also learned new skills like how to use computers, copying machines and fax machines, office-style communication, how to deal with different situations over the phone, office administrative procedures and so on. Huong also cherishes memories at the British Council related to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion advocacy that she was encouraged to participate in. Activities included supporting the Australia for Vietnamese children – ACCV charity event and

people. But it was only when working at the British Council,

the English club for the visually impaired, participating in Child

even just for a year-long internship, that Huong realised it was

Protection focused events, and trying her hand at modelling

likely the most important milestone of her career and life.

in an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion week fashion parade.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies at the British Council and the people there made me much more confident. I no longer think of myself as a person with disabilities.

It was that environment which helped her gain strength and optimism in life, and she was always proud of what she did. Huong’s growth in her career and a recommendation letter from the British Council helped her successfully apply for her next job at Viet–Phap hospital. Huong talked a lot about what she got from the British Council. “Having an internship here was a big opportunity for me and many other people with disabilities to develop ourselves and our careers. Everyone there helped me by motivating me, showing me dedication, encouragement and guidance, through what they showed in their eyes, their actions or simply by a kind word. So I was no longer afraid to ask if there was something I didn’t understand. I felt at home and confident, and not an outsider. Everyone was very supportive. All my colleagues came to my wedding and visited my home when I gave birth to my baby. I was very grateful to them. For me, British Council is the kind of workplace I dream of, where respect and care for each other is central.” Huong now lives with her husband in a small house in Hoang Mai district. The couple have a beautiful two-and-a-half year old daughter. In addition to her job as a call operator at the Viet–Phap Hospital, Huong also has a second job in web-based sales. Huong’s husband, Ngo Quang Hieu, is the incumbent Vice Chairman of the Hoang Mai district Blind Association and a talented English tutor.

2012 2013 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Work at the Council is so and dynamic Le Anh Tho “Beyond marvellous, interesting, vibrant, dynamic, committed to creating opportunities for all people in society, and so on� are the expressions that former Head of Arts and Creative Industries of the British Council in Vietnam, Le Anh Tho used to describe her nearly seven years working there. Despite its presence in Vietnam for a quarter of a century, most Vietnamese when hearing about the British Council tend to think that it is a high-end educational institution. To learn English, explore educational information about the UK, take an IELTS exam and so on, you come to the British Council. Education, however, is only one part of what this organisation offers Vietnam. It is also a place full of

British o vibrant c

through such activities as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Week. It comes in different themes each year, including among others, combatting domestic violence, raising awareness about breast cancer and learning sign language from members of the hearing impaired community.” For Le Anh Tho, her work for the British Council was one of her best achievements in life. On revisiting the many memorable projects that she was a part of, she recalled, “I was really proud to be part of the British Council’s contributions to the advancement of education in Vietnam through projects that helped the Vietnamese Ministry of Education to improve the quality of training for English teachers like Project 2020, as well as efforts to connect universities in the UK with Vietnamese partners, among others.” Her time working at the British Council was when Le Anh Tho felt that she had the most impact and where she acquired the most useful knowledge, knowledge that she continues to carry with her. Key milestones for Le Anh Tho include her role in making possible a

stories and projects that are both innovative and that demonstrate

series of activities celebrating the 40th anniversary of UK – Vietnam

a genuine commitment to creating opportunities for all people in

diplomatic ties in both countries, sending Vietnamese designers

society. As such, making sure that everyone understands the wide

to London Fashion Week for the first time where designers

range of roles and responsibilities the British Council assumes is

participated in the International Fashion Showcase featuring

a serious challenge for the organisation’s former Head of Arts and

designer Cong Tri, as well as her involvement in the successful

Creative Industries of the British Council in Vietnam, Le Anh Tho.

visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron to Vietnam in 2015.

The British Council appeals to Le Anh Tho both in terms of the

Among all these achievements, one of the things that Le Anh Tho

work environment and sheer joy the job has to offer. She recalls,

was most proud of throughout her time working at the British

“I didn’t think I would ever leave the British Council because the

Council was the successful introduction of the British Council’s

work environment there was really more than one could expect

Innovative industry project, particularly the project’s breadth and

and the job was just so very interesting, especially when I had two

depth. Drafting the project outline and convincing UK partners to

hats to wear – Assistant Director of the British Council in Ho Chi

support the project, all the while trying to localise the concepts

Minh City and Head of Arts and Creative Industries. My life when I

and get the project accepted at home by Vietnamese partners

was working at the British Council was truly vibrant and dynamic,

and local people was a challenge. She notes that, “When I took the

focused on projects intent on making positive contributions to

job, the term ‘creative industry’ was still unfamiliar, but now it has

society. I learned so much and experienced so much, and this

become a recognised expression, and has even been explored

inspired me to contribute more and dedicate more of myself.”

over time and recommended to the Prime Minister for integration into public policy. I feel happy about my part in achieving that.”

Le Anh Tho believes that humanitarianism is a cross-cutting agenda in the British Council’s activities, not just through the projects the

While she has left the British Council, Le Anh Tho is still thinking

organisation engages in with its Vietnamese partners, but also

about the job. “People are now able to conceptualise what

inherent within the institution. She shared that,

innovative industry is, but we are not there yet in terms of

“The British Council workplace values humanity, respects

legislative change needed to better support industries intent

employees, and offers a rich experience to the staff

on pushing boundaries, and this is something I regret.”

2010 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together


Grow up and nurture values with the British Council Cao Thi Ngoc Bao Looking back at nearly 25 years since her first steps past the doors of the small Hanoi office of the British Council

agencies, and Quoc Hoa Hotel in Bat Dan Street, where I met many international guests. I realised over time that progressive people wanted to contribute to society and move up.”

in Vietnam in 1994, Cao Thi Ngoc Bao

Having graduated in 1994, Bao told herself that she would

cannot believe she has come such a long

one functioned. The British Council was just in the country for

way. Now Director of Business Transition

work for a foreign organisation, without even knowing how less than half a year and was struggling to find the employees that met its standards. Bao filed her application, passed the

at the British Council, Bao has grown

interview round and was accepted. “When I was taken in, we

up with the organisation and remains

national, working in a small room and a modest information

committed to its humanitarian values and to make positive contributions to its collaboration project.

had only four people on the staff, including just one Vietnamese desk about the UK at No. 1 Ba Trieu Street Building” she said. The British Council office moved to Cao Ba Quat Street in 1996. In the farewell party for the outgoing first country director, everyone wondered ‘what will the British Council become a few decades from now and what will happen to us’ she recalls. Bao knew

Setting foot in a “global family”

she would be working at the British Council until she retired.

In the 1990s when Vietnam started to open its doors to the world,

In 2018, Bao – now Director of Business Transition at the British

Cao Thi Ngoc Bao knew she had an aptitude for and loved the

Council Vietnam – can confirm: “I almost didn’t notice that I have

English language. Despite having passed the exam to a ‘Block

been with the British Council for 25 years now. Everyone asked me

A’ college, she was determined to sign up for an in-service

why I was at a same place that long. Wouldn’t that erode my skills

higher training course for English teachers at Hanoi National

and knowledge? I didn’t think so, because every day is different.

University of Education. At college, she took every opportunity

I have been trusted with new projects, listened to, able to raise

to practice English: “I was working part-time at galleries, travel

new ideas and explore new perspectives in what I’m doing.”


2008 The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

By 2018, the British Council in Vietnam has built up a 270-strong

Trust: Once trust has been built with a Vietnamese partner,

staff, nothing short of a miracle from just four members those

the British Council will receive strong support, respect and

years ago.

assistance. This comes from the passion and professionalism of staff and the organisation’s transparency through its

Cross-cutting values

commitments to actions for mutual benefits. It is common with the British Council that its programmes are often not well funded, thus successful implementation requires commitment and

Throughout the programmes and projects she was part

resource sharing between different parties. Trust and shared

of, Bao realises the British Council has unique values

responsibilities between partners are of utmost importance.

that have kept her around for the past 25 years. Five core common values: The five values the British

Equality, diversity and inclusiveness: The British Council integrates and encourages equal engagement from different

Council has upheld include professionalism, creativity, valuing

genders and involvement from vulnerable groups, including

people, integrity and mutuality. These five values have been

people with disabilities, indigenous groups and LGBT groups in

richly reflected in all British Council programmes as well as

programmes. It opens opportunities for people and believes

internally across the organisation, as employees are given

everyone has their own potentials and that with the desire,

the opportunities to grow and nurture those values.

resolve and the right circumstances, they will shine brightly.

Leading the way: The British Council pioneers exploring

The environment factor: The programmes encourage good

unchartered territories, including introduction of the

treatment of the environment and mitigation of damaging effects.

social enterprise, global citizen, innovative industry and cultural industry concepts in Vietnam. Sustainable and cross-cutting: The British Council supports Vietnam’s priorities, while also highlighting UK achievements in the best way possible and leaving solid platforms for its partners

Listening to demand: Most British Council programmes are built on a need-based harmony that requires respect for diverse views and long-term bonds with partners to maximise mutual benefits without following a stereotype approach.

to build on for long-term benefits. While programmes and projects

Improved sustainability: The British Council’s wish is that

may vary, beneficiaries are consistently maintained. For youth,

outcomes and achievements of programmes are sustained and

for example, the British Council has programmes for capacity

developed among individuals and entities benefiting from the

building, training, governance, personal development, media and

projects. It has been very successful in realising such expectations.

communication, social enterprise and innovative industry. For teachers and researchers, available initiatives include exchanges and partnerships between institutions, the Exchange Programme

In the ‘ecosystem’ of the global family

research facility, High Education Links and Newton Fund. Connectivity for mutual benefits: The British Council works as an interface between different organisations, from government agencies, non-government organisations and various groups

Bao also shared internally within the British Council, good values were made visible since inception until now. She said the British Council is like a global family.

from Vietnam, the UK and other countries. Engagement, sharing,

Be open, listen and respect: The early days of a foreign

connection and contribution from diverse groups are constantly

organisation in Vietnam were far different from now. Few people

encouraged. To this end, the benefits of British Council programmes

knew about Vietnam and vice versa. It was lucky there was a

are inclusive, covering not just a particular group of beneficiaries.

culture of openness for both sides to share and listen. The UK has strengths on regulatory and system building, while Vietnam is highly adaptable. Vietnamese national employees have to take on roles of ambassadors: to help Vietnam understand the

values imported from the UK and create benefits for both sides.

Balance in work and life: A unique feature of the British

These ambassadorial roles have and are being played well,

Council, perhaps a key element that keeps her in the organisation

due to the balance of values between the two countries. That

is how everybody respects one another’s personal inclinations,

balance is, in turn, created by many different factors, such as

lifestyles and views, which provides a platform for harmony

the eagerness to learn by staff, understanding, dynamics and

and helps every individual to find a balance between the

respect for personal values of leaders. But above all, as everybody

needs for entertainment and enjoying life with work, despite

is operating in a same open, trusting and straightforward

the massive pressure and volume of work involved.

environment, they all can achieve good results in what they do. Support from the global family: For example, when I work in

Owing to the humanitarian values that have been created, maintained and developed over the past 25 years, Cao Thi Ngoc

one line of business, there are other colleagues also working on

Bao and her colleagues at the British Council have achieved

that line of business in other countries, like programmes on the

positive changes. They are encouraged to learn new things,

youth or social enterprise programme. I meet different people

grow up every day and have opportunities to contribute to social

and learn. I find that in multilateral relationships, knowledge

well-being. “I am proud of such developments,” Bao said, with

does not just come from Vietnam or the UK, but from diverse

bright eyes. Naturally, she and other staff members of the British

countries. When I face challenges in programme implementation,

Council in Vietnam are a source of inspiration that imbues all

I can call for help from the region or around the world.

its programmes and projects, in its family and community.

Empowerment: As a global organisation, the British Council has sharpened its strategic vision, through which it empowers its local staff in Vietnam to adapt such vision to the actual local context for the best interests of Vietnam and the UK. Contribution: I work not just because I have responsibilities in what I do, but I am happy to be able to do it and contribute. Sometimes, I worked almost around the clock or went on survey missions for a month for the VTTN programme (Vietnam English Teacher and Trainer Network – an initiative to improve the quality of English teaching in Vietnamese middle schools by the British Council and Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training), where I was in a different province each day. But I was not tired. All I wanted was for the surveys to provide the most unbiased findings to engage as many teachers in the programme as possible.

With the British Council, I witnessed the increasing advancement and opening up of society.

The British Council and Vietnam | 25 years together

Chief editor: Do Hoai Anh

We would like to express our special

Writer and lead editor: Truong Uyen Ly

thanks to colleagues at the British Council

Supporting writers: My Hang and Quynh Nguyen

interviews and completing this book:

for their support in conducting the

Lead photographer: Binh Dang

Danny Whitehead

Supporting photographers: Le Anh Dung va Tran Tien Dung

Cao Thi Ngoc Bao

Translator: Trinh Minh Hung English editors: Malcolm McNeill, Elizabeth Kentmann and Simon Drought Design: Crunchy Frog

Hoang Van Anh Nguyen Quoc Vinh Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa Nguyen Thanh Thuy Le Mai Hanh Tran Thi Hong Gam Nguyen Phuong Thao Pham Minh Hong Nguyen Thu Huong Nguyen Ngoc Anh Le Song Nga

The information and views set out in this publication are those of the characters only and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of their organisations or the British Council. The British Council may not be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein by any third parties.

Copyright of the British Council in Vietnam. All rights reserved


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.