Mekong Delta Region trailing behind in development

The Mekong Delta region is trailing far behind the rest of the country in development of education, medicine and science, even though it is considered the richest rice basket of Asia.

Students in An Giang Province in Mekong delta go to school by boats (Photo: SGGP)

According to the General Statistics Office, only 71.5 per 1,000 residents in the area attend university or college. This is the lowest number compared to other regions in the country.

In preschools, 140 communes in the region have no facilities and no province has universal preschool education for five-year-old children. As per a plan, it is expected that 95 percent of children will go to school, both morning and afternoon, 100 percent children in nursery schools will follow new education curriculum, and 100 percent of teachers who teach five-year-old children will meet required standards.

Among physicians, Soc Trang Province has the lowest number of doctors with 3.89 percent for every 10,000 people; followed by An Giang Province with 4.56 percent and Tien Giang with 4.86 percent.

Local authorities are aware of the difficulties but their measures to address this problem have been inadequate and sluggish.

Lack of land for construction of educational facilities and high expenditure costs to improve education and human resource quality has resulted in the region lagging behind in the field of education, medicine and scientific research.

For instance, during the period 2008-2012, the government allocated VND1,162 billion (US$ 55,141) to Can Tho University but the school in fact received just VND176.5 billion, 15 percent of the earmarked amount and the school has had to manage the remaining.

Earlier, the government had realized that education, medicine and research in the region was lagging behind, and issued many policies to promote these sectors along with socio-economic development.
 
Local administrations have made efforts to raise the quality of education and medicine and achieved some changes, yet this has not met the increasing demand.

Experts also shifted the blame on local people’s low awareness of importance of education. Many parents in the region do not attach great importance to their children’s schooling.

Accordingly, in addition to boosting funds on education, the local government should encourage and have practical policies to push parents to send their children to school instead of forcing them to earn a living at a very early age.

Besides, the local government should bring in bright intellectuals to drive policies and bring about effective changes. For instance, Can Tho University has five professors, 65 associate professors, 243 masters and 216 lecturers.

In the past ten years, the school has carried out 1,545 research projects including eight of national level and 645 of ministry level. Many of these scientific research projects have contributed to the region’s growth.

Investment in personnel is key solution for the region’s development, which needs a breakthrough in training, medicine and science.  Only with such radical changes can the country’s rice basket begin to compete with others regions of the country.

By Tran Minh Truong - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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