Over the last 40 years since President Ho Chi Minh wrote his Testament, which recommended the whole Party, people and younger generations of Vietnam do important works for the revolutionary cause. His instructions, including his thoughts on education and training of future revolutionary generations are still of great value and profound significance.
President Ho Chi Minh always cared for the building of revolutionary forces throughout his life and the revolutionary cause. They not only shoulder current tasks and settle current issues, but also the capable successors who will inherit and further promote the cause of previous generations. In his Testament, Ho Chi Minh told the whole Party and people to remember, “The education and training of future revolutionary generations is very important and necessary” (1). That theoretical point contained a scientific world outlook of a revolutionary leader and reflected the broad vision of a philosopher and a great cultural activist. It has become a revolutionary truth.
1 – Why do we have to educate and train future revolutionary generations?
The revolutionary struggle to turn the bad, unfair and inhuman society into a new, fine and fair society for all people has to undergo a hard and challenging process. In his work, “The State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin mentioned complicated revolutionary tasks such as the power issue. He said it was difficult to seize power but it was more difficult to maintain the revolutionary power. President Ho Chi Minh affirmed that independence and freedom had no meaning if the people still died of hunger and cold. He said the people only understood the value of independence and freedom when they had enough food and clothing. Only socialism can give the people these natural and genuine human rights. However, socialism cannot be achieved immediately but only after the people endure struggle.
By recalling these statements we can see that the revolutionary cause is a long-term process, which includes different tasks in different periods, and therefore it requires the sacrifices and self-denied devotions of different revolutionary generations. In this process, many tasks are fulfilled by contemporary people, while quite a few other works are left unfinished. Moreover, many issues will emerge in real life, which require further solutions. If worthy successors are not available, the revolution will meet with difficulties and will not be able to maintain its fruits.
The thoughts on education and training of future revolutionary generations showed Ho Chi Minh’s broad and profound vision. With these thoughts he could see the present as well as the future. He devoted to the immediate revolutionary cause while consolidating its root. He creatively applied Marxism-Leninism’s viewpoint of dialectical materialism on development: the future is within the present.
Ho Chi Minh highly valued the role of younger generations. He wrote, “A year begins with spring. A life begins with youth. Youth is the spring of society” (2). Enthusiasm, vitality and creative capacity are the strength and resource of youth. As the large and powerful reserve and successor in the Vietnamese revolution and the future masters of the country, the younger generations, first of all youths, have the responsibility to succeed the revolutionary cause and realise the glorious historical mission that their predecessors handed to them. The country will prosper or become decadent, strong or weak, depending very much on the youth. Ho Chi Minh affirmed that the youth had to be a major and steady force in the national resistance war and the national construction process. They must “give the revolutionary strength to the older generations, and be in the frontline of the economic and cultural development and building of socialism process” (3).
President Ho Chi Minh was born and grew up within the Vietnamese nation. He had a strong attachment to the people and firmly believed in the invincible strength and the extraordinary creative capacity of the people, including the youth. The younger generations in general and children in particular had always been in his heart and mind. He spent boundless love on the younger generations and put the future of the revolution and the nation in their hands. Marking the start of the first school year in the new regime, he sent a letter to encourage students in the country. The letter said, “Today we have to restore the country inherited from our ancestors and catch up with other countries in the globe. In this reconstruction process, our country expects great contributions from you. Whether the Vietnamese country will become beautiful and whether the Vietnamese nation will be glorious and well-matched with the super powers in the five continents, mostly depends on your learning.” (4)
From this analysis we can affirm that, as indispensable logic, the “education and training of future revolutionary generations” is very important and necessary.
2 – How to educate and train the future revolutionary generations?
President Ho Chi Minh, with his diverse experiences and revolutionary theories, was very soon aware that an uneducated and ignorant nation would be a weak nation. That was why, immediately after the revolutionary Government was established, he considered the fight against illiteracy and improvement of the people’s general knowledge the second task in the six most urgent tasks of Vietnam at that time. Particularly, he advanced a strategic and humanitarian viewpoint, which evolved into the guidelines for the entire Vietnamese society in general and the education sector in particular, “For the benefit of 10 years we should grow trees, and for the benefit of 100 years we should provide people with a good education” (5). Although he was very busy, Ho Chi Minh was very concerned about education, considering education of socialism the most important in education provision, and an indispensable link in the younger generation’s education strategy. In other words, the education sector has to realise a major mission of training revolutionary successors. He said, despite any difficulties, schoolteachers and students had to accelerate their good teaching and good learning process. All levels of the Party, all sectors and local administration must pay further attention to this cause and take care of schooling in all aspects to push the education cause to a higher plane. It can be said that his thinking about the education of the people had a major significance, as it is a long-term strategy for national development. Currently, as the people are considered to be the most important internal resources for the country’s socio-economic development, the depth of his thought has become clearer.
President Ho Chi Minh required Vietnamese students and pupils to strive further in learning to benefit the future revolutionary generations. They should learn at school, in the family and society, from books and real life. They learn not to become a “mandarin” as in the old society, but to “serve their homeland and their people, and to make the people rich and the country strong, to fulfil the task of becoming the master of the country.” (6)
A profound philosophy of Ho Chi Minh was that learning must go along with practice and theories must be attached to reality. So, while defining that education and learning were the major means to foster the younger generation, he also required them to train and improve themselves in reality to develop their necessary qualities and capacities so that later they would make the utmost contributions to the country, the community and society. According to him, the self-training and improving process should follow a consistent principle, namely to try their utmost to do the right thing and avoid the wrong, even it was very small.
Sixty years ago in 1947, in his letter to the youth, President Ho Chi Minh affirmed that the youth were the country’s future masters. If the youth wanted to be worthy of this title, they must educate and train their spirit and force and work hard to prepare for the future. Youth education must be closely attached to social struggles to help them avoid hazardous elements and negative practices, and to learn good and progressive practices. He said youths must be ready “to go where the Party needs them and to do difficult tasks”. They must unite, strive forward, overcome any difficulties, compete with one another in learning and production and contribute to the building of a peaceful, unified, independent, democratic, rich and strong Vietnam.
3 – Which education and training should be provided for youths, adolescents and children to make them worthy future revolutionary generations?
President Ho Chi Minh had reiterated that in order to build socialism, the prerequisite was to have socialist people. The younger generations must be educated and trained in a regular way and on a comprehensive basis to fulfil the mission of the country’s future masters. Having good education and training will allow them to obtain the necessary qualities and capacities including brainpower, political will, personality, morals and health to meet the needs of national defence and the building of socialism. In this spirit, the fostering of younger generations must focus on the following:
Firstly, educating the young in revolutionary ethics. According to Ho Chi Minh, in youth education, the primary important task is to build in them revolutionary ethics, educate them with socialist thought and help them wipe out individualism. It was not accidental that he put the revolutionary’s ethics in the first part of the book “The Revolutionary Path”. His thought on revolutionary ethics contained a profound outlook on the development of personality, ideal and lifestyle for the younger generations. Revolutionary ethics are new ethics, an indispensable quality and the root of the socialist people. Because, he said, “It is similar to a river which must have a source. Without a source, the river will run out. A tree must have its root, if not, it will wither. Revolutionaries must have ethics, without which they will not be able to lead the people despite their talent” (7)
In Ho Chi Minh’s thought, the core content of revolutionary ethics is industry, thrift, honesty and righteousness. These four qualities were similar to the four seasons in a year. A person can not be a human in its true sense if they lack one of these qualities. However, revolutionary ethics are not easily available but are the outcome of a hard struggle and individual daily training . So, Ho Chi Minh maintained that the younger generations must always educate themselves with revolutionary ethics. They should show public-spiritedness and selflessness in dealing with other people and in their work, lead a clean life, have a desire for progress, unite and not be self-important. They should actively fight against individualism, criticise negative practices, and carry out regular criticism and self-criticism to help each other make progress.
Secondly, providing them with theoretical, cultural, scientific and technological knowledge. Ho Chi Minh maintained that youths should have virtues and talent. Because, he said, it would be difficult for a virtuous but incapable person to work, while a talented person without virtues will become useless. Moreover, ignorance is a major cause of hindered development, “Ignorance will lead to silliness, and silliness will lead to cowardice” (8). So, intending to become knowledgeable and talented people, in addition to improving their revolutionary virtues, the young people must study hard, including the study of Marxist-Leninist theories. This is to equip themselves with and improve their level of revolutionary theory level, which will lighten their actual deeds.
Besides revolutionary theories, the younger generations must learn literacy, science and technology, and use this knowledge in the building of the new society. Ho Chi Minh maintained that this task was more important now as Vietnam advanced towards socialism from its position as a backward agricultural country. He concretised the objectives and contents of education so as to conform to each level. He wrote, “In university education, it is required to combine theories with practice, learn advanced scientific theories and knowledge from other countries and apply this knowledge to the actual situation in our country to make a practical contribution to national construction. In secondary education, the schools should provide pupils with reliable and practical knowledge, which can meet the current and future needs of nation building. The content, which is unnecessary, should be ruled out. In primary education, pupils should be taught to love the homeland, the people, work and science and protect public property”(9). Only by learning these lessons, can the younger generations gather the necessary knowledge and have a foundation to promote their creativity and make an important contribution to national defence and socialism building.
Thirdly, improving physical strength. The creators of Marxism and Leninism pointed out that the future of humans completely depended on the comprehensive education of the younger generations. President Ho Chi Minh paid particular attention to the comprehensive education of Vietnamese youths, adolescents and children, including their physical health development. According to him, the promotion of democracy, nation building and the realisation of a new lifestyle, all required healthy people. It is because, “Every weak person will make the entire nation weak. Every strong person will make the entire nation strong”(10). In this spirit, he set a bright example in physical training and sports while calling on all people including men and women, old and young to take physical exercise regularly, considering it to be the responsibility, and duty of each patriotic person. In particular, he wanted the youth to be a vital force, with physical strength, a strong spirit and energy. To reach this goal, there is no other way but to take regular physical exercise and sport training.
Deeply understanding and realising these correct and profound thoughts of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese revolutionaries of different generations developed rapidly and made major contributions to the nation’s development. They fought and won the resistance war against the US invaders for national salvation, defended national independence, reunified the country and marched to socialism. They have been active in order to “rebuild our country stronger and more beautiful” as ardently wished by Ho Chi Minh before leaving this world.
In the current comprehensive national renovation, globalisation and international economic integration processes the Vietnamese younger generations have always persevered in the socialist idea fostered by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh. They have proved their strong will, youthful strength, creativity and enterprising spirit. They have further studied and trained to improve themselves in all aspects. They have been active in production and science and technologies in order to, together with the entire Party and people, further carry out the renovation, industrialisation and modernisation processes to build a Vietnamese society with a rich people, strong country and a fair, democratic and civilised society. Emulation movements such as Youth Volunteer, Youth Career Development, and Youth in School have been warmly welcomed and realised by Youth Union members, youths, students and pupils. The Party, State and society have acknowledged and rewarded young people who have distinguished themselves in national defence and socio-economic development. It can be said that, Vietnam’s younger generations nowadays still deserve the trust, love, reward and wishes of President Ho Chi Minh, “The Working Youth Union members and our young people in general are good; they are always ready to come forward, fearless of difficulties and eager for progress. The Party must foster their revolutionary virtues and train them to be our successors, both “red” and “expert”, in the building of socialism”(11)
However, we must acknowledge that due to the impact of the negative side of the market economy and the process of globalisation, coupled with a lack of self-education and effort, a number of our youths and adolescents have shown worrying negative manifestations. They have diverged from decent ideals and led a self-indulgent life. They are lazy in their learning, their moral educating and working. They have hedonistic tendencies and are interested in unhealthy or counter-cultural activities, drug addition and even breaking the law. These negative practices will, first of all, constitute a threat against their own future, while preventing them participating in our society’s healthy development, progress and civilisation. Meanwhile, hostile forces are “waiting” and will try to make the most of these phenomena to carry out a “peaceful evolution” strategy in order to undermine and hinder the Vietnamese revolution from further development. That is why, more than ever before, the entire Vietnamese Party and people are focusing on the education and training of the younger generations, considering it a primary task as it directly relates to the country’s future. This is also an important manifestation and content of the “taking people as the root” strategy.
It can be affirmed that in addition to other positive and overall measures, the campaign, “Learn and follow the moral example of Ho Chi Minh” recently launched by the Communist Party of Vietnam provides a good opportunity for Vietnam’s younger generations to educate themselves and advance forward.
(1) Ho Chi Minh Complete Works, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1995, p. 12, p. 510.
(2) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 4, p. 167.
(3) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 10, p. 488.
(4) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 4, p. 33.
(5) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 9, p. 222
(6) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 7, p. 399.
(7) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 5, p. 252.
(8) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 8, p. 64
(9) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 8, p. 81.
(10) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 4, p. 212.
(11) Ho Chi Minh: ibid, p. 12, p. 498.