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Vietnam - Japan cooperation Achievements in training of leaders and managers at HCMA

(LLCT) - Japan’s Assistance Strategy for Vietnam rests on three pillars, which are promotion of economic growth and strengthening international competitiveness, response to fragility and good governance. JICA assistance for good governance gives high priority to capacity development of public leaders and civil servants as the quality of the policies, the effectiveness of the enforcement depend on their performance and accountability. At the same time, improved capacity of public leaders and civil servants helps enhancing efficiency and sustainability of JICA’s loan and technical cooperation projects. Together with JICA, National Personnel Authority of Japan (NPA) - the agency responsible for ensuring fairness in personnel administration and protecting the benefits of national public employees - is willing to share Japan’s philosophy and know-how of civil servants training with HCMA.

Background

The Renewal policy embarked in 1986, on one hand, has brought about remarkable progress in socio-development of Vietnam. On the other hand, it posed great challenges to Vietnamese public leaders and civil servants. While they faced with difficulties in policy making and execution to deal with various issues that had arisen with the country’s transformation to socialist oriented market economy, training programs provided by Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, the specialized leading training institution for public leaders and civil servants, had traditionally been theoretical in nature, focusing on political theories and laws. It was difficult for trainees to apply the knowledge acquired in the training programs to the practice in their work.

To address this issue, in 2010, the Prime Minister issued Decision 1677 on “The Program for Renovation of Training Programs for Leaders and Managers”. In implementation of the Program 1677, HCMA was required to formulate refresher trainings targeting different leadership positions, which should incorporate practical and updated knowledge and skills and adopt more active training methods.

Moreover, for the first time ever, in 2012, HCMA was assigned by the Politburo to conduct the Training program for potential high-level leaders (Lop Boi duong Du nguon Can bo Cao cap), who are candidates for strategic leadership positions in the 12th term of the Communist Party of Vietnam. In coping with challenges in renovation and formulation of position based refresher trainings added with great pressure to make the Training program for potential high-level leaders a success, HCMA was seeking and eager to learn experiences from foreign countries. Because HCMA appreciated Japanese civil servants for their disciplines, professionalism and ethics, they asked Japan for technical support.

Offering Japanese hand-on policy experiences into Refresher Courses “Lop Nguon”

Japan’s Assistance Strategy for Vietnam rests on three pillars, which are promotion of economic growth and strengthening international competitiveness, response to fragility and good governance. JICA assistance for good governance gives high priority to capacity development of public leaders and civil servants as the quality of the policies, the effectiveness of the enforcement depend on their performance and accountability. At the same time, improved capacity of public leaders and civil servants helps enhancing efficiency and sustainability of JICA’s loan and technical cooperation projects. Together with JICA, National Personnel Authority of Japan (NPA) - the agency responsible for ensuring fairness in personnel administration and protecting the benefits of national public employees - is willing to share Japan’s philosophy and know-how of civil servants training with HCMA.

Recognizing the importance of the Potential High-level Leaders Training Program, NPA sent leading experts in training management to Vietnam to discuss with HCMA’s lecturers training contents and methods that could best meet with the need and expectation of participants, who are future strategic leaders of Vietnam.

On May 19, 2013, the first group of Japanese experts including Mr. Yoshida Kozo, NPA Commissioner, came to Vietnam to conduct the Policy Research Module with the two themes of “Civil Service System” and ‘Water Resources Management” under the Potential high-level leaders training program. With positive feedbacks from participants, NPA continued to dispatch another five groups of experts who are high-ranking policy makers of central ministries and professors of leading universities of Japan to lecture and discuss with participants on priority policy issues of Vietnam.

113 selected participants of the Potential high-level leaders training program were invited to Japan for further discussion and field survey in the themes they were given lectures in Vietnam. They were given opportunities to discuss with policy makers of Japan concerning issues and challenges in policy making process and be exposed to Japan’s successful policy models.

Out of 511 participants of the Potential high-level leaders training program, 114, which is more than half of the total number of the Central Party Committee, were elected as the Central Party Committee Members at the 12th National Party Congress in 2016. They are now in the position to directly utilize what they learnt from Policy Research Modules for public policy formulation and execution. Moreover, participants of the Potential High-level Leaders Training Program could build networks with high-ranking officials of Japan and became a bridge to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Modernizing training method and management

The Policy Research Module supported by JICA made contribution not only to success of the Potential high-level leaders training program but also capacity development of HCMA lecturers. Observing that the active training method (debate, group discussion and presentation) and the Plan-Do-Check-Action (PDCA) cycle of training management adopted by Japaness experts for the Policy Research Module made lectures much more effective and interesting, HCMA requested JICA and NPA for Training of Trainers (TOT) in training method and management.

Between 2013 and 2016, 3 TOT training courses were organized at HCMA Headquarters for 26 lecturers and 4 other courses at regional academies for more than 100 participants. 8 TOT courses were conducted for all 63 provincial political schools during 2016-2018 with 205 participating lecturers. Training Management Handbook that incorporated TOT lecture notes were published and widely distributed for utilization of lecturers at HCMA Headquarters, regional Academies and provincial political schools.

Currently, the active training method and PDCA cycle have been systematically adopted not only at HCMA Headquarters and regional Academies but also provincial political schools. Moreover, HCMA shared this updated training method and management to lecturers of Lao’s Academy of Politics, who started to apply at their Academy.

Upgrading knowledge of younger leaders

In Japanese organizations, middle managers play important role in making their organizations more resilient. They have the access to the front-line, where the reality is, and also have the access to the management, where the organization’s strategy is formed. JICA therefore also paid attention to Advanced political theory training Program (Lop A), whose participants are current or potential middle managers in central ministries and local governments.

To facilitate the brainstorming and consideration of how to overcome problems Vietnam and promote knowledge sharing between JICA and HCMA, JICA invited Japanese experts who are based in Vietnam to HCMA to make presentation and discuss with “Lop A” participants.

As invited Japanese experts came from JICA projects, Japanese organizations such as Embassy of Japan, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Japanese companies in Vietnam with different background, they can discuss with participants various issues of both public and private sector. In addition, given their understanding of Vietnam’s situation obtained during working in Vietnam, Japanese experts could share not only Japanese experience but also suggestions for Vietnam.

During 4 years from 2016 to 2019, 73 lectures on 38 themes were delivered to more than 1,500 “Lop A” participants. Participants showed strong interests in themes such as civil service system and public administration reform, climate change, agriculture policy, business environment etc. and actively participated in discussion with lecturers. Japanese lecturers also got better understanding of the issues Vietnam is facing and policy priorities through discussion with participants, which greatly benefit their duties in Vietnam.

Enhancing research capacity

In addition to efforts to strengthen capacity of HCMA in training of public leaders and managers, JICA also assisted HCMA to develop its research capacity. With support and facilitation from JICA, Japanese researchers from top universities of Japan such as Hitotusbashi, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), and HCMA lecturers conducted joint research to analyze conducive and impeding elements, which affect effective management of an organization and study exemplary cases of leadership and management, which could be emulated by executive officials of public organizations.

Case study reports of Vietnamese outstanding leaders (Mr. Truong Chinh, Ex-Party General Secretary; Mr. Kim Ngoc, Ex-Party Secretary of Vinh Phuc province, who initiated the agriculture reform) were published and utilized for HCMA‘s different training programs. HCMA lecturers’ capacity has been strengthened through attending seminars and joining case studies in the field of knowledge creation and leadership.

The cooperation between JICA and HCMA started in 2004. Since then, the cooperation between the two sides has quickly expanded with a wide range of activities covering different training programs of HCMA for both strategic leaders and mid-level officials as well as research activities.

Through more than 15 years of cooperation and various kinds of joint activities, JICA and HCMA have been able to build the trust relationship, which helps open various cooperation opportunities between the two sides and have made great contribution to strengthening of strategic partnership between the two countries.

Building on the trust relationship and success of joint activities, JICA was honored to be requested by HCMA for supporting the upcoming Potential Strategic Leaders Training Program (Lop Boi duong Can bo Quy hoach cap Chien luoc), which develop human resource for the next-five year term of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Japanese side is determined to dispatch resource persons for training in Vietnam and implement training in Japan in collaboration with NPA.

Achievements of the cooperation between JICA and HCMA were outstanding and largely recognized by JICA and other Japanese organizations. In September 2016, JICA decided to present the JICA President Award with deep appreciation for HCMA’s cooperation and accomplishment.

For more effective cooperation in the future, JICA expects strong leadership, strong ownership and close communication from HCMA side.

KONAKA TETSUO

Chief Representative of JICA

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