Blog: Notes from Vietnam - Simon Lebus

Blog: Notes from Vietnam - Simon Lebus

Simon Lebus, Group Chief Executive of Cambridge Assessment, shares his experiences from a recent trip to Vietnam, which included news of a new English language project and a convoy of Santas on mopeds.

Visiting Vietnam last week I attended a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien, with Cambridge represented by myself, Uyen Pham of Cambridge English and Saul Nasse, Chief Executive of Cambridge English. We were joined by representatives from the Ministry's International Cooperation Department, Testing and Accreditation Department and the Project 2020 Steering Committee.  

Simon Vietnam handshake - imageProject 2020 is the government program to improve English language learning and teaching throughout Vietnam. The ambition is to achieve radical transformation by 2020 and much of the focus is on communicative skills as historically the emphasis has been on writing and reading. There is serious commitment at the most senior levels to deliver on this and as a result there is much interaction with international agencies and organisations, and also a clear focus on improving teacher training and learning materials.

Simon Vietnam group - imageExams are inevitably a big part of any reform programme of this sort so it was a good opportunity to talk to the Deputy Minister about Cambridge English qualifications, with which he was already familiar as we already have a large number of candidates taking our exams in Vietnam.

Earlier in the day we went to see the Vice Chair of the Central Propaganda Committee, Dr Vu Ngoc Hoang, where we were photographed with him standing under a frieze of Marx and Lenin. Vietnam has a communist government but they combine this with a robustly wheeling and dealing economy in which private enterprise plays a large part.  

Elsewhere in the city, there was a large convoy of Santas on mopeds, the main form of transport in Hanoi. Although Vietnam has only a small Christian population, Christmas there, as in many other parts of the world, is a good opportunity for consumer marketing and the motorised Santas looked as if they were making a good effort to get into the swing of things. As health and safety is not yet an important part of Vietnamese life they will in due course no doubt be able to use the mopeds to transport their present sacks as well.

Simon Lebus
Group Chief Executive, Cambridge Assessment


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