Lecturer from Japan-Japan University (JICA). He holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s, doctorate, and master’s degree at the University of Tokyo (Japan).
Going to Japan in 1993, when I was 19 years old, I was a product of Vietnamese society. I just wanted to have a career, make money immediately, and then I got a Liberal Arts education…
4 years after graduating from two universities in the late 1990’s, Hanoi University of Science and Technology and Hanoi Foreign Language University with an English major, Mr. Nguyen Dang Minh had the chance to study in Japan.
He studied Engineering, but unlike the mechanical engineering “trained in the Russian way” at the University of Science and Technology, Minh entered the Honda Technical College with a specialization in service and repair technology.
After two years studying, he continued with his Master’s degree at the University of Tokyo specializing in industrial engineering. In this academic setting, he experienced a distinct learning style separate from his education at the University of Technology in Engineering.
Two degrees in two places would be recognized by the Toyota Group to get him work. When he started a business here, Mr. Nguyen Minh realized something that seemed strange to this corporation. Someone would come in having studied Chemistry, but learn to work on mechanics at the company.
He himself was a mechanical engineer who had been working for less than three years and was transferred to Toyota’s management and research system for China. 7 years of work here helped him develop enough skills, which made him look back to the education model in which he was trained.
It motivated him to take a Ph.D. in business administration. After returning to Vietnam in 2011, he began his education as a lecturer at the Hanoi University of Economics and has been acting as deputy director of the Institute of Business Administration at this university.
Adaptive Learning and Changing
Dr. Phan Le Binh was a colleague of Mr. Minh at the University of Tokyo. Unlike Mr. Minh, Mr. Binh was educated in the Japanese education system to receive his doctorate as one of the first four Vietnamese to receive a scholarship to study in Japan.
After that, Dr. Binh became the first and only Vietnamese national to work at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) headquarters in Japan.
Returning to Vietnam, he continued to work at JICA for many years and is a veteran of transportation development, urban planning, and management. One of the turning points was when he was sent by the Japanese side to teach at the Vietnam-Japan University.
Going to Japan in 1993, when I was 19 years old, I was a product of Vietnamese society. I just wanted to have a career, make money immediately, and then the university education at the University of Tokyo brought the ideas of Liberal Arts,” said Dr. Binh.
Following a degree in architecture and construction, after graduating, Mr. Binh was surprised when he saw others studying in the same course with backgrounds in construction, transportation and the other half with banks and advertising companies.
I was surprised, really that when I was 23, I did not understand. Later on, my classmates and I were equipped with what the school offered. It was the ability to think logically and the ability to present content for others to understand themselves. When there is a weapon, my friends did not upgrade his study. They went to search for a job and show how smart and presentable they were in order to be received,” said Mr. Binh.
Mr. Binh’s development at JICA was also interesting and stimulating. Being the first non-Japanese at the company to be recruited, Mr. Binh did all of his assignments and although he may have been in charge of traffic planning, he may shift to other areas because of rotational positions.
After three years working in that position, I could possibly move to a different one in agriculture, HR, or anything. At JICA in Vietnam, I do everything from booking a car, translations, hotel, management ODA projects, and most importantly remaining unafraid when I take on a new task. When I was managing ODA projects, they told me that I had a new project working as a lecturer. I got a job even though I was not teaching professionally,” he said.
Sharing about the universal value of “Liberal Arts” from personal experience, Dr. Binh said that this educational model equips learners with a variety of skills, identifying problems, and problem solving. In Vietnam, university training is mainly focused on professional training in order for a graduate to fit in a job.
While in Japan, such liberal arts development is done at the college level. Japanese college graduates are skilled and do any job. Japanese colleges are more interested in providing students with diverse perspectives and methodologies.
Both Dr. Nguyen Dang Minh and Phan Le Binh have experienced the value and spirit of the liberal arts, and they emphasize that that is the decisive factor of having an effective education. With liberal arts, in addition to core training, students are encouraged to be lifelong learners, creative, open-minded, and interdisciplinary.
“I think education must come from an educational philosophy. If the philosophy is lost, then educational strategy is not anything because the strategy would not serve any purpose. Opening up the meaning and reason for studying makes people feel comfortable learning,” said Dr. Minh.
According to a report on Revolution 4.0, more than 50% of jobs in the near future, in the next 20 years, will disappear or fluctuate dramatically because of emerging and dissolving industries. People must be adaptable and change based on a comprehensive knowledge based to develop new skills. Educators are pointing to the need for education to prepare their children for not only school years, but also years far off in the future.