Viet Nam will spend about VND650 billion (US$34.2 million) to develop its expertise in mathematics during the next ten years.
A national programme aimed at fostering maths research, application and teaching, both qualitatively and quantitatively, has been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Viet Nam aims to be one of the top 40 countries in relation to maths by 2020, a big leap forward from its current rank of 54th.
The programme sets detailed goals, which includes substantially boosting the ranks of qualified university maths lecturers. Authorities hope that more than 70 per cent of maths lecturers at large universities will be PhD degree holders by 2020.
Twice as many
The number of internationally declared research projects by Vietnamese mathematicians is expected to double over the current number, which accounts for only 0.21 per cent of the world's maths research.
An Advanced Mathematical Research Institute will also be built as the first step to achieve the plan's targets.
The institute will provide support to mathematical research projects and top-level mathematical training to university lecturers, mathematicians, new PhD degree holders and researchers. It will also implement outstanding, highly-applicable mathematical research projects and ideas.
More efforts will be spent on improving classes specialising in maths at the secondary and tertiary level, with exams held to select outstanding maths students for scholarships and training to raise the quality of maths teachers.
University Maths lecturers will also be encouraged to focus more on research and mathematical researchers and lecturers will be offered opportunities to study abroad on exchange programmes.
World-leading mathematicians, including Vietnamese living overseas, will be invited to come to Viet Nam for training, research and implementation of key mathematical research.
Funding will focus on major mathematical research projects that have practical uses, while authorities will also prioritise the hosting of international and national mathematical conferences, including the Asian Mathematical Congress, which Viet Nam will host in 2017.
Tran Quoc Huy, a mathematics degree holder working at an IT company, said the prog-ramme addresses the neglect of maths.
"I'm glad that the country has recognised the importance of maths, which has been seen as less important than many other modern sciences in Viet Nam during the past decade," Huy said.
Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan said excellence in maths is prized around the world.
Therefore, Viet Nam needed to follow the lessons learned at the world's mathematical institutes.
Mathematics is already one of the country's most developed basic sciences, which Viet Nam has developed since 1954, which is reflected in the country's strong performance at International Mathematical Olympiads for students.
Among the latest efforts, six Vietnamese students attending the 51st International Mathematical Olympiad in Astana, Kazakhstan last July won one gold, four silver and one bronze medals.
Other success stories include renowned professor Ngo Bao Chau, who will be a plenary speaker at the 2010 International Congress of Mathematics, held in India today. He is a strong candidate for the Fields Medal, the ‘Nobel prize of mathematics', at the event.
However, no current mathematics faculty at Vietnamese universities uses modern mathematics teaching methods, according to Professor Le Tuan Hoa, deputy head of the Mathematics Institute.
Meanwhile, the number of good students who choose to pursue mathematics as their first degree was on a decline, he said.
Only 850 Vietnamese scientists have ever completed a mathematical research work.
The total number of Vietnamese mathematicians still pursuing a mathematical career was now less than the size of a mathematics faculty at a university in developed countries, said Hoa. —VNS