International cooperation for development of the National Academy of Public Administration

In the context of globalization and international integration, international cooperation becomes one of the key tools to realize the development goals of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). In addition, building capacity in teaching and research directly supports the process of sharing and transferring modern management skills to develop high-quality administrative human resources to serve the nationalization,modernization and international integration.

In response to new requirements and demands, NAPA’s international cooperation needs to adapt and innovate to improve operational efficiency. In recent years, international cooperation work has been continuously developed to adapt to the requirements of the development process of the National Administration of Public Administration.

  1. The process of developing the international cooperation of the National Academy of Public Administration

The international cooperation activities in administrative training of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) started quite early, contributing to laying the foundations and actively supporting the training and research of NAPA in particular and the administrative science of Vietnam in general.

Since the 1980s, NAPA established international cooperation relations with partners of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China. The main cooperation activitiesare in the form of international seminars, international training courses on key issues of the administrative science. NAPAlocalized andadjustedthe training content and materials provided by expertsto suit the Vietnamese context and integrated into the existing curriculum. It can be said that international cooperation activities have contributed to establishing the system of public administration knowledge and skills, creating an initial foundation for the new administrative sciences in Vietnam.

In the early 1990s, along with the trend of integration and opening, NAPA quickly set up cooperation with many Western partners, such as France, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Federal Republic of Germany, etc. The expansion of cooperation allows NAPA to access the system of modern knowledge and skills to serve the administrative reform process and national renovation. This was also the period when NAPA joined major administrative organizations such as the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) and the Eastern Regional International Organization (EROPA). The process of international integration contributes to raising NAPA’s position and creating favorable conditions for NAPA staff and lecturers to exchange with international administrative training and research institutions.

In the period of 2000-2005, NAPA’s international cooperation has many advantages because this period witnessed strong development of investment activities and development assistance projects in Vietnam. Many international partners and donors proposed capacity building projects for NAPA. Many projects were implemented simultaneously such as the Project “Supporting National Academy of Public Administration” funded by DANIDA Denmark; Capacity Building for Teaching State Management in Vietnam funded by SDC Switzerland; International Didacthèque Program on Public Management sponsored by CIDA, Canada;Project for development of  modern pedagogical method sponsored by InWENT, Germany; the project “Enhancing gender mainstreaming capacity in National Academy of Public Administration” funded by CEG-Australia Fund, etc. The support through international projects providedNAPA with abundant resources to improve teaching and research capacity.

The period of 2006-2008 marked a slowdown in NAPA’s international cooperation due to the decreasing trend of ODA support to Vietnam. The approval procedure became more demanding while NAPAwas not able to adapt its international cooperation to meet the new requirements.

In the 2008-2013 period, NAPA’s international cooperation faced many great challenges. Vietnam became a middle-income country, which means that the development assistance agency gradually withdrew from Vietnam. The projects supporting Vietnam in general and NAPA in particular were getting less and less. On the other hand, a number of staff working in international cooperation with sufficient qualifications and work experience left NAPA for working in the private sector; the resources for international cooperation activities were significantly reduced compared to it was before. These challenges significantly affectedNAPA’s international cooperation.

From 2014 up to now, along with the trend of increasing competition in training civil servants, NAPA has faced the need to improve service quality, and shifting its international cooperation activities from focusing on getting external support to providing international training and services. The new context has created opportunities but also posed challenges that require NAPA to innovate its international cooperation activities to create resources to support NAPA in the transition process.

  1. The results of international cooperation of NAPA

2.1 Expanding NAPA’s cooperative relationships and improving its international reputation

NAPA is a member of many international administrative organizations such as the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA), Eastern Regional Organization of Public Administration (EROPA), Asian Group of Public Administration (AGPA), ASEAN Public Service  Training Institutions Network (PSTI), Group of Public Sector Training Program for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, etc. The NAPA has successfully hosted the EROPA Annual Conferences, international events, and administrative seminars and forums. The active participation in international organizations creates conditions forNAPA to expand its network of international partners, facilitatingNAPA staff, lecturers and scientists to involve in academic activities and the international community of scholars. It also allows introduction of the country, people and the administration ofVietnam, gradually improving NAPA’s position in the community of international administrative training institutions.

Regarding bilateral cooperation, NAPA has signed agreements and had close cooperation with over 50 prestigious training and research institutions in the world, such as: French National School of Administration (ENA); Indiana University, United States; Schoolof Government,New Zealand;National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, Japan; Seoul National University, Korea; University of Tampere, Finland; National School of Public Administration (ENAP), Quebec, Canada;Center for High Studies of the Ministry of Interior of France (CHEMI);Civil Service College, Singapore. International cooperation enables NAPA to learn and share experience in training and research, get professional support and assistance for enhancement capacity inteaching and research.

2.2 Supporting the realization NAPA’s goals of development and transformation

International cooperation activities have been closely aligning with NAPA’s development strategy such as innovation in teachingcurricula and courseware, building capacity for teaching staff,rank and title-based training, online training, and so on. Through international cooperation activities, NAPA got support for its renovation of the training curricula and content, development of training programs meeting both international standards and Vietnamese practices, improvement of the training quality, enhancement of faculty capacity. In 2014, NAPA collaborated with the French General Administration and Public Affairs to develop a training program for department leaders. In 2014-2015, NAPA collaborated with the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, Japan, to develop and deliverthe master’s program in public policy at NAPA. In 2018, NAPA coordinated with the Korea Public Policy Center to organize a training course on recruitment skills and civil servant assessment for NAPA’s officials and lecturers to prepare theworkforce for the establishment of the center for civil servants recruitment and assessment as assigned by the Government. NAPA was working with theCenter for High Studies of the Ministry of Interior of France (CHEMI) to develop online training programs; in cooperation with the Civil Service College, Singapore designing a training program for policyformulation and implementation skillsfor public leaders and managers; coordinating with Indiana University to develop a project to local official training.

2.3 Delivery of international training services

NAPA has gradually become a reliable destination for trainingof civil servants from regional countries. Every year, NAPA trains 20 Lao senior managers and 100 Lao students. NAPA has trained over 400 high and middle civil servants and nearly 2,000 Lao students. In 2017, NAPA was honored to be awarded the First Class Labor Medal by the Government of Laos for its contributions to the training of Lao cadres and civil servants. NAPA also organizes training activities for other countries in the region. Since 2015, NAPAhas conducted training programs forBangladesh Government officers. Up to present, NAPA has organized 16 training courses for over 600 officers, including additional secretaries, joint secretaries, deputy secretaries, senior assistants. In addition, NAPA provided training courses for civil servants fromthe Government of India, Pakistan and study visits for South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines. International training activities promote cooperation and diplomatic relations between Vietnam and other countries in the region, improving NAPA’s prestige and international position, creating favorable conditions for NAPA’s officials and lecturersto work in an international environment, generating revenue forNAPA.

Since 2017, performing the tasks assigned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, NAPA has organized training courses for Vietnamese cadres and civil servants, combining domestic and overseas training components. These courses were highly appreciated by the Ministry leaders and course participants. The training content is linked with the work of course participants, focusing on improving the capacity of leadership and management. The trainingcourses ensure a good harmony between theory and practice and, integrate both international experience and domestic practices, which allows students to have a comparative analysis and facilitatesthem in learning and application of provided knowledge, skills to their work efficiency.

Regarding cooperation ininternational training, NAPA is one of the leading cadres and civil servants institutions in international training. NAPA has organized 5 master’s courses in collaboration with prestigious training institutions around the world such as the Master’s program in public administration in collaboration with National School of Public Administration (ENAP) Québec, Canada; Master in public finance management and public policy in collaboration with Tampere University, Finland. NAPA is continuing to discuss training cooperation with Palermo University (Italy), Laval University (Canada) and other prestigious training institutions. In addition to improvement of the capacity of Vietnamese public leaders andmanagers, the international training programs also provide favorable conditions for NAPA to receive modern training technology for innovation of the training curriculum and content, and to improve NAPA’s teaching and research capacity.

2.4 Building capacity of lecturers

International cooperation in improving faculty capacity is one of NAPA’s focus. Most international cooperation activities aims to improve faculty capacity, professional knowledge and skills in designing training programs, delivering lectures and applying modern pedagogical methods. The capacity building for lecturers is carried out through various activities, including teaching with international experts in the training courses organized in the country and abroad. NAPA also organizes regular international conferences and seminars which created a forum for scholars, officers and lecturers to participate in research on issues concerning socio-economic development. In the context of social and administrative reforms, it is necessary for NAPAlecturers to provide government officerssystematic and up-to-date theoretical knowledge. Through training and research, NAPA lecturers contribute to the building and strengthening of the foundation of the administrative sciencesin Vietnam.

2.5 Cooperation in research

International cooperation in research is being more focused. NAPA has cooperated with Indiana University, United States; UNDP experts to design projects to develop research capacity for NAPA staff, lecturers and students, and organize training courses to improve the research capacity for NAPA’s academics and young researchers. NAPA also conducts some international joint studies, such as the study on local governance in Vietnam and Japan in collaboration with Japan partners, the study on Vietnam’s policy-making process in collaboration with JICA Japan, and so on.

2.6 Cooperation in application of advanced training technology

International cooperation also actively supports the process of transfer of advanced training technology into Vietnamese practices, contributing to the effectiveness of the civil servant training. In 2018, NAPA collaborated with the Hanoi People’s Committee to develop a training program for newly recruited civil servantsfollowing the training model of the French National School of Public Administration (ENA). In addition, NAPA collaborated with the Center for High Studies of the French Ministry of the Interior (CHEMI) to develop online training programs, through which CHEMI transferredNAPAthe technology of development, design, implementation, and management of online training programs.

  1. Opportunities and challenges for international cooperation

In order to create a drastic change in the quality and effectiveness of the civil servant training, contributing to building a contingent of cadres, civil servants and public employees, who are qualified and capable of meeting the requirements of serving the people and the cause of national development and international integration, on January 25, 2016, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 163 / QD-TTg approving the Project on training cadres, civil servant, and public employees for the period 2016 – 2025. It is stated “building Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, the National Academy of Public Administration centers for training leadership and managementat the regional level”. This presents new opportunities and challenges for theinternational cooperation of the National Academy of Public Administration.

3.1 Opportunities

The process of comprehensive international integration, administrative reforms, and public services reform in Vietnam has created many opportunities for international cooperation, specifically:

Firstly, with deeper renovation and international integration, Vietnam has increased its resources and international prestige, which creates opportunities for NAPA to expand its international relations with more reputable international partners.

Secondly, the process of administrative reform and renovationrequires the capacity building for cadres and civil servants. Building a qualified contingent of cadres and civil servants is not only a goal but also a requirement of the administrative reform, one of the essential conditions for successful implementation of the reform. This requires the National Academy of Public Administration to promote its international cooperation to learn experience, acquire technology and take advantage of resources to improve the quality of the civil servant training.

Thirdly, the Government Decision No. 05/2018/QD-TTg stipulates the functions, tasks, powers and organizational structure of the National Academy of Public Administration, affirming that NAPA is a special public non-business unit. It has created a solid legal basis for NAPA to formulate a development strategy for the coming years, creating the favorableconditions to makeNAPA a truly training center for leadership and management at theregional level. This is an opportunity for NAPA to develop and  implement an international cooperation strategy to support the enhancement of NAPA’s teaching capacity.

Fourthly, the fact that the National Academy of Public Administration as a subordinate unit of the Ministry of Home Affairs has ensureda consistence between formulation and implementation of the policiesrelated to cadre and civil servant training, contributing to the quality enhancement of cadres, civil servants and employees of the Ministry of Home Affairs. In addition, NAPA also gets more attention, direction, and support from the Ministry of Home Affairs’ leaders in implementing political tasks, training and research activities. In particular, NAPA is assigned by the Ministry to carry out the training cooperation with other countries, creating conditions for NAPA to continue and improve the effectiveness of international cooperation activities.

Fifthly, the development of international cooperation over the past years has brought NAPA international prestige and position through establishing and developing long-term and effective international relations. NAPA has maintained good traditional cooperation with many prestigious organizations and partners in the world, which facilitates the implementation of quality international cooperation activities, especially in providing international training services.

Sixthly, cooperation activities were not limited to technical assistance and financial support activities as they were before, rather to equal cooperation relations for mutual benefits and coordination in providing training services and research. This changes the quality of cooperation relationship, enhances the position and activeness of NAPA in cooperative activities, facilitates the implementation of cooperative activities to meet NAPA’s needs and priorities of development.

Seventh, the expansion of international relations and delivery of international training services in recent years have created favorable conditions for NAPA’s staff and lecturers to participate in many international cooperation activities in various forms such as capacity building projects, conferences, international seminars, international training courses, etc., facilitating the development of communication and working skills in an international environment, making NAPA’s staff and lecturers more actively participate in international cooperation activities. In addition, the team of international cooperation staff is enthusiastic, responsible, dedicated, experienced, capable of designing and implementing effective international cooperation activities.

3.2 Challenges

In addition to the above-mentioned opportunities, NAPA’s international cooperation has encountered some challenges as follows:

- Firstly, NAPA is facing the requirement of expansion and development of international cooperation to serve the process of innovation and development while the funding for the cooperation activities is increasingly reduced compared to previous years.NAPA is not allowed to fund the overseas training of lecturers. Project 165 stopped funding for cadres’s participation in the joint training programs for master degree. Most of the international cooperation activities depend on the external or internal funding, which, therefore, limits initiatives and the long-term implementation of the system of NAPA’sinternational cooperation programs.

- Secondly, in context of increasing competition in training, NAPA is subject to competition in the implementation of international cooperation activities and provision of international training services. This requires NAPA to proactively innovate, change ways of thinking, improve its capacity to be able to effectively implement international cooperation activities, be competitive in training.

- Thirdly, international cooperation is facing the urgent need of transformation from focusing on supporting NAPA’s activities and capacity building to expansion of the provision of international training services. This is a big change in development orientation as well as in organizational culture, requiring the NAPA’s international cooperation to be renovated while maintaining the internal stability, ensuring quality implementation of traditional international cooperation tasks such as supporting NAPA’s activities and capacity building. The process of adaption to this neworientationwhile maintaining the traditional cooperation activities takes time and needsNAPA leaders’support,international cooperation’s staff effort, innovation, capacity building, adaptation.

- Fourthly, NAPA’s autonomy in cerrtain international cooperation activities is still limited. The complexity of administrative procedures in international cooperation partly affects the initiative and progress of international cooperation activities.

- Fifthly, research competence, English ability and working skills in the international environment of NAPA’s staff and lecturers have not yet met the current requirements of international integration, limiting the active participation of officials and lecturers in NAPA’s international cooperation activities.

- Sixthly, the physical facilities for international cooperation activities are still not adequate, affecting the implementation of the agreements as well as international cooperation programs.

  1. Orientations for developing NAPA’s international cooperation relations

In order to make international cooperation really become a tool to serve the renovation, capacity building for research training of the National Academy of Public Administration, actively support the implementation of NAPA’s development goals in the following years, international cooperation activities should focus on the followings:

- Firstly, to use effectively the long-term support of reputable traditional partners to build a solid scientific foundation for NAPA’s teaching and research. The public administration, management knowledge and skills in Vietnam in general and in NAPA in particular are not on par with international and regional levels, not meeting the practical requirements. To accomplish this goal, in addition to internal efforts, NAPA identifies strategic partners, develops programs, plans for long-term cooperation, and mobilizes domestic and international resources to implement cooperation.

- Secondly, to focus on providing international training services through joint training and international training programs, NAPA needs 1) mobilizing resources and synergy of allNAPA units for development of joint training programs; 2) building close partnerships with ministries and localities to accurately identify needs and attracting learners in joint training programs; 3) coordinating with localities and ministries to organize joint training and mixed training with involvement of both domestic and foreign training institutions and financed by local funds or trainees. 4) developing new skills for NAPA’s officials and lecturers such as skills in market research, marketing, public service delivery, training organization and management according to international standards, etc. so that they have capacity to effectively design and implement joint training programs; 5) enhancing the promotion and introduction of NAPA international training programs to potential customers in the region, and 6) applying online training technology in providing international training servicesto improve the training quality and efficiency.

- Thirdly, to create conditions for NAPA to promote its activerole in international administrative organizations and forums. It is necessary to have mechanisms to encourage and create favorable conditions, such as partial funding support for NAPA staff and lecturers to participate in overseas training activities and for academic activities and international forums related to public administration, public management and related subjects;

- Fourthly, to improve the working capacity in the international environment for NAPA’s staff and lecturers so that they can be confident and actively participate in international training activities and academic activities, thereby transfer the modern training technology to design the quality curricula at NAPA. The skills to ve developed include foreign language communication skills, teaching and research skills, intercultural understanding, creative thinking and adaptability, teamwork and network building, technology transfer.

- Fifthly, the management of international students and international course participants needs to be changed. There is a need to develop and apply effective management toolsto manage and supportforeign students and course participants. At the same time, it is necessary to focus on developing short-term training courseware and training materials for each target group of international course participants. The training content mustlink with the course participants’ working practice, ensuring the provided knowledge and skills could  be applied effectively into practical work of international course participants.

- Sixthly, it is necessary take use of NAPA’s overseas study visits for  officials and lecturers by focusing on the defined specific goals, associated with the tasks relating to NAPA’s research and teaching. At the same time, it is necessary to organize the sharing of experiences, knowledge and skills learned after the officials go home on working trips to provide updated and improved information for NAPA’s administrators and lecturers.

- Seventhly, it is necessary to create conditions for NAPA branches to improve capacity of international cooperation, to organize international cooperation activities, and strengthen coordination with localities to organize international conferences, training courses to increase efficiency.

- Eighthly, NAPA should have policies to attract international experts and Vietnamese professors and scholars to teach and do research at NAPA, organize academic activities, seminars, forums for officials and lecturers to exchange and work with international experts, thereby improving their professional skills, allowing them to practice communication and discussion skills in English, and share ideas on the issues raised in the administrative scienceand the reform practicesof the country.

- Ninthly, NAPA needs to invest in physical facilities to serve the international cooperation activities such as international seminar rooms, online seminar rooms, well-equipped classrooms to ensure quality joint training courses such as classrooms with good teaching facilities.

- Tenthly, NAPA needs to improve the capacity of officials working in international cooperation. In fact, the results of international cooperation activities depend a lot on the international cooperation staff. It is necessary to build a contingent of international cooperation staff who are knowledgeable about training and training management, have foreign language skills and multicultural knowledge, skillsin communication and negotiation with foreign partners. On the other hand, international cooperation staff should have the capacity in advising, making project proposals, and other organizational skills such as planning, implementing, coordinating and monitoring activities. teamwork and coordination to build and successfully implement international cooperation projects and programs.

International cooperation is one of the key means to improve the training quality, reputation and competitiveness of NAPA in the context of globalization and international economic integration. In order for NAPA’s international cooperation to develop sustainably, there must be an international cooperation strategy focusing on NAPA’s development priorities, at the same time allocating resources and creating conditions for realization of the strategy. In addition, it is necessary to build the capacity of officials, lecturers and officials in involvement in international cooperation, to create mechanisms to motivate, facilitate and encourage officials and lecturers to participate in international cooperation activities. Successful implementation of the above requirements will create conditions to improve the effectiveness of international cooperation, so that it becomes an effective tool for the overall development strategy of NAPA.

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