Book Summary

The six sections of this first volume of the Vietnam Ethics Series explore questions on opportunities and challenges with a focus on contextual Ethics. Vietnam in transition: 30 years later delves with identified opportunities and challenges that remain at the grass root levels to be improved to move faster forward.

Opportunities identified are the positive spirit that changes have brought to the people at all levels: higher living standards, better infrastructure, more variety in consumer products, more job opportunities, and to a small section of the population, freedom to travel, freedom to make a living outside the public sector with the State as sole employer.

However, alongside the positive aspects, there is a social cost to pay for this new status: degradation of the environment, loss of cultural identity and loss of traditional values, insecurity on the job market for those who were on the payroll of the State, insecurity on health and education market due to the disengagement of the State, insecurity, and risk exposed by the opening of social media platform and the free enterprise without proper regulations to accompany these changes.

In Section 1, the. selection concentrates on issues relating to the lack of competitiveness of the Vietnamese which is translated on labor productivity and HDI index, and explanations on the probable cause of this low productivity index, such as low IT infrastructure,  lack of economies of scale, absence of an institutional framework to boost up productivity, labor-intensive in the agricultural sector instead higher valued-added activities, etc.

As Vietnam’s economy is still heavily dependent on agricultural activities with 80 percent of the workforce and an output of 20 percent of GDP, the solutions proposed by some authors were focused on boosting productivity on the farmers through co-op collaboration, along with capacity building farm management and optimizing operations with adequate use of financial tools provided by State-owned financial institutions.

HDI Index and Labor Productivity Compared 

Comparative studies on economies that have similar economic and geographic environments (i.e. Vietnam vs. Thailand, or France vs. Germany) use indices as measurement factors such as human development index (HDI), gross domestic product (GDP), gross national product (GNP), GNP per capita, etc. to compare the level of advancement of countries to allow a quick comparison between countries.

The human development index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development such as long and healthy life, being knowledgeable, having a decent standard of living on a given segmentation of survey. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions. Therefore, Vietnamese curricula should encourage young professionals to understand not only the present working environment of today’s Vietnam but also the challenges lying ahead with more global competition arising from the region. In service sectors such as tourism, journalism, communication, IT, and financial services, there is an imperative need for bilingual studies and soft skills that are lacking in most Vietnamese schools.

Boosting Productivity Through Cooperatives


An agricultural cooperative, also known as a farmers’ co-op, is a cooperative in which farmers pool their resources in certain areas of activity.

A broad typology of agricultural cooperatives distinguishes between agricultural service cooperatives, which provide various services to their individually farming members, and agricultural production cooperatives in which production resources (land, machinery) are pooled and members farm jointly.  Examples of agricultural production cooperatives include collective farms in former socialist countries, the kibbutzim in Israel, collectively-governed community shared agriculture, Longo Maï co-operatives and Nicaraguan production co-operatives.

The default meaning of “agricultural cooperative” in English is usually an agricultural service cooperative, the numerically-dominant form in the world. There are two primary types of agricultural service cooperatives: supply cooperatives and marketing cooperatives. Supply cooperatives supply their members with inputs for agricultural production, including seeds, fertilizers, fuel, and machinery services. Marketing cooperatives are established by farmers to undertake transportation, packaging, distribution, and marketing of farm products (both crop and livestock). Farmers also widely rely on credit cooperatives as a source of financing for both working capital and investments.

Agricultural marketing cooperatives are cooperative businesses owned by farmers, to undertake transformation, packaging, distribution, and marketing of farm products (both crop and livestock.)

A service provided by COSA (Committee on Sustainable Assessment) is described under this pdf link.

The full list of producer organization indicators and open access to the short-form POD self-assessment can be found on COSA’s website. A brochure explains the POD’s value to development agencies, lenders and other collaborators or clients. Now that a first round of adjustments to the POD are complete, these new materials can be found on the COSA webpage dedicated to producer organizations.
Theories and Practices on Farming in Vietnam

As a result of the changing environment due to economic growth, Vietnamese farmers must also adapt their working habits. Farming plays an important role in the Vietnamese agricultural landscape.

Compared with the requirements in industrialization and modernization of Vietnam’s agricultural sector and rural areas, the development of Vietnamese farms was spontaneous and not sustainable. Therefore, further studies on farming techniques have great significance in both theory and practice.

In the efforts of boosting production productivity, lessons learned from other countries are useful for improving the agricultural activities of farms in Vietnam. But, in this perspective, let’s not forget the discourse on sustainability and ecology.  Indeed, agricultural activities are also linked to the use of land with regard to the conservation of the biodiversity of flora, fauna, and ecosystems.

New theories on ecology have made a distinction between ecoregion, bioregion, and biogeographic realm. According to WWF, an ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than a biogeographic realm.

Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species.

The biodiversity of flora, fauna, and ecosystems that characterize an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions.

In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation (largely undefined at this point).

The concept of ecoregion applied by Bailey gives more importance to ecological criteria and climate, while the WWF concept gives more importance to biogeography, that is, the distribution of distinct species assemblages.

Ecoregions in Vietnam as defined by WWF

The following is a list of ecoregions in Vietnam defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Terrestrial ecoregions

Vietnam is in the Indomalayan realm. Ecoregions are sorted by biome.

Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
  • Cardamom Mountains rain forests
  • Luang Prabang montane rain forests
  • Northern Annamites rain forests
  • Northern Indochina subtropical moist forests
  • Northern Vietnam lowland rain forests
  • Red River freshwater swamp forests
  • South China-Vietnam subtropical evergreen forests
  • Southern Annamites montane rain forests
  • Tonle Sap freshwater swamp forests
  • Tonle Sap-Mekong peat swamp forests
Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests
  • Central Indochina dry forests
  • Southeastern Indochina dry evergreen forests
  • Southern Vietnam lowland dry forests
  • Indochina mangroves
Freshwater ecoregions

The freshwater ecoregions of Vietnam include:

  • Xi Yiang
  • Sông Hồng
  • Northern Annam
  • Southern Annam
  • Mekong River

Kratie–Stung Treng

Mekong Delta

Marine ecoregions

Vietnam’s coastal waters are in the Central Indo-Pacific marine realm.

  • Gulf of Thailand
  • Gulf of Tonkin
  • South China Sea Oceanic Islands (disputed)
  • Southern Vietnam
Rice Farming Systems in Mekong before 1975

Until the French colonization in the mid-19th century, Vietnam’s economy had been mostly agrarian, subsistence-based, and village-oriented. French colonizers initially designated the Southern part of Vietnam for agricultural production as it was better suited for agriculture, and the North for manufacturing as it was naturally wealthy in mineral resources. The Mekong Delta region was baptized as the basket of rice for export thanks to agricultural development concentrated on rice cultivation, whereas rubber and tea plantations were concentrated in the coastal regions in central Vietnam.

The Vietnamese rice farming system that was developed in the 17th century to the present day has been influenced by many natural and social factors. In fact, the rice-farming techniques in the Mekong Delta that were initially practiced by former Khmer people were changed with the new resettlers who brought with them their agricultural farming experience of the Red River Delta. The story of rice-farming evolution was intertwined with stories of migration, policy on land distribution, crop yield improvement, and wars of influence for this rich region, until today.

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Vietnam in Transition, Education, Culture and Ethics reflects on the process of constructing a curriculum for the studies on Vietnam designed for educators and researchers in the field of social studies. Based on a selection of scholarly works, proceeds of seminars and conferences on Education inside and outside Vietnam, the English edition proposes an analysis on factors that affect the learning environment of Vietnam as a young nation in the context of globalisation.

The texts presented cover a large spectrum of subjects, starting with the changes in the educational and cultural background of Cochinchina under the French colonial period, visiting the role of University in an economy in transition, or including the major literary trends in pre-75 Southern Vietnam’s modernisation process, among others. Transcripts of seminars and conferences reflect participants’ visions on the future of Vietnamese Education, with the editor’s comments as takeaways at the end of each section.

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