No library, no soul
A MOET’s senior official said while big universities in the world all consider libraries as their “heart” or “soul,” in Vietnam, libraries do not have much significance to lecturers and students.
The survey, conducted on 196 schools, or just 50 percent of the existing schools, has found that only 80.4 schools belonging to MOET had libraries. The figures were 92.9 percent when surveying the schools belonging to other ministries and 88.6 percent at the schools belonging to provincial authorities.
The figures show that some 20 percent of schools still do not have libraries. Meanwhile, under the current regulations, universities must have libraries and other material facilities that can effectively satisfy the teaching and learning at the schools.
Of the 172 libraries found, only 38.9 percent could meet the Vietnamese or foreign standards.
39.7 percent of schools, or 77 schools, reportedly have e-libraries, which, as MOET commented, is too small, which shows the delay of schools in utilizing information technology in training.
The representative of the Hanoi Agriculture University said the school has 30,000 books with 130,000 copies, 20-30 percent of which are the versions in foreign languages. Being a key university in Vietnam, but the school still has not had an e-library to serve the training and research. The school has requested MOET to allocate budget to build an e-library by 2015, which is expected to be a seven storey building with the floor area of 10,000 square meters.
Deputy President of the Hanoi University of Education Kieu The Hung, when admitting that Vietnamese schools are seriously lacking libraries and other instruments that serve the training and learning, said that this is a common situation in Vietnam.
“You should not get surprised when hearing that schools do not have enough classrooms and their students have to go learn lessons in rental rooms, that schools do not have material facilities for training, and that schools have tiny campuses,” Hung said.
The problem lies in unreasonable programming?
The HCM City University of Sports and Gymnastics Education, established in 1976, now has 1500 full time training students. It has been planning to expand the training for the last many years but still cannot do that, because the school is too small if compared with the 1985 Vietnamese standards. It needs to have at least 20 hectares of land to train 2000 students, while the school now covers a modest area of less than one hectare.
In fact, a library is not the only thing schools are lacking. Most schools complain that they do not have money to install necessary equipment that serves the teaching, learning and scientific research.
Dr Tran Thanh Binh, Head of the Institute for School Research and Design, said at a recent workshop that a lot of schools, especially the newly registered people-founded ones, are located in the areas which should not be reserved for education. The 10,000 students of the Mining and Geology University, for example, now study in the rooms of an improved hotel area.
Binh went on to say that the lack of land fund is the main reason that makes it impossible to build functional buildings and areas at schools.