Vietnam state agencies’ obsession with certificates to blame for fake diplomas: ex-deputy minister

By Bao Van, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the March 21 issue of our print edition, Vietweek)

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A police officer of Quang Nam Province shows fake certificates and diplomas which were discovered in an investigation in a local gang that produced fake official stamps and certificates in September 2013
Government agencies’ job recruitment process should be amended to keep out people with bogus diplomas, Tran Xuan Nhi, a former deputy minister of education and training, tells Vietweek.

Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan recently said at a meeting of the National Council on Education and Human Resource Development that holders of fake certificates can only get jobs in state-owned enterprises. What do you think about his opinion?

Tran Xuan Nhi: I agree with the minister’s opinion. Fake certificates are not unusual. Recruiting people with fake diplomas harms society. Employees with fake diplomas can only be found in the state sector, not in the private or foreign sectors. Private and foreign firms must compete fiercely to survive in the market, and so they need people with high qualifications. Fake certificate holders have no opportunity to enter these sectors. Meanwhile, many state-owned firms have a monopoly. They are not worried about competition, and so can employ people with fake certificates.

The recruitment of these people harms state agencies and undermines the quality of the state apparatus in general.

To improve state agencies’ quality, we have to fight against bogus certificates, to ensure the real value of diplomas. 

The recruitment of fake diploma holders in state agencies is not a new issue, and this has caused many losses, hindering the development of our country.

People with fake diplomas and those with real diplomas but poor qualifications often pay bribes of tens of millions of dong or even hundreds of millions to officials to join state agencies.

Why don’t we have effective measure to prevent this?

The government has not yet been tough on this issue. Holders of fake diplomas can get high positions in state agencies. They can easily hire other bogus certificate holders, who could get high positions there. This should be stopped.

The issue is that state agencies often consider promoting an employee based on their qualifications. Some state agencies send their employees to study for master’s degrees or doctorates because of a regulation on the minimum number of degree holders they should have. It is a wrong point of view. Many people try to obtain degrees to be assigned to higher positions. They don’t do it because it is good for their jobs. In fact, many postgraduates and Ph.Ds are working in fields which are not suitable for their qualifications.

What are possible measures to prevent bogus diploma holders from joining state agencies and climbing to high positions there?

Recruitment and assignment at state agencies are not strictly regulated. Vague regulations have caused negative phenomena like public servants trying to get bogus diplomas so that they could get promotions.

I think the best way is to have direct interviews for recruitment to state agencies to check candidates’ knowledge instead of selecting them on the basis of their certificates. Interviewees should show working plans and measures to deal with working issues. Information about them should be circulated around the whole agency to ensure that they are the right people for the job.

This way will help state agencies get better workers than based on certificates.

Could a renovation of education, besides reform of the recruitment and assignment processes, help eliminate fake diplomas?

To eliminate bogus degrees, we should renovate not only the recruitment and assignment mechanisms, but also education.

Since state agencies pay too much attention to certificates for recruitment and assignment of work, bogus diplomas exist. Another serious issue is that [genuine] certificate holders of poor quality are employed at state agencies. So the education sector should try to ensure examination results reflect students’ real quality.

Schools should provide proper career guidance to students,
helping them understand that skilled workers can earn a lot of money and enjoy good status in society. Senior secondary schools should classify students into different groups – those suited to enter universities and those with the aptitude for vocational schools. The government should improve salaries for teachers and tighten assessment of students’ quality.

Despite efforts by the education sector to eradicate bogus diplomas, some people can still get them, and get jobs at state agencies and high positions.

Right. We should draft specific regulations to tackle the issue [of fake diplomas] and a mechanism to jettison poor employees. It is not easy to do. State agencies attempt it, but fail to achieve success.

They should dismiss employees who do not meet the requirements of their job.

To ensure holders of fake diplomas are not employed by state agencies, officials who hire them should take responsibility for their recruitment, vice chairman of the National Assembly's Culture and Education Committee, Le Nhu Tien, said.

This would force them to be more careful during recruitment, he said.

There are many loopholes in regulations, creating opportunities for holders of fake diplomas to join state agencies, he said.

Many officials at state agencies decide to employ a person based on their degree they hold, their relations with officials, and even bribes, he said.

The government can only ensure people with bogus diplomas are not employed at state agencies when all of these issues are resolved, he added. 

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