UNDP revitalize TOKTEN programme to call home Viet Nam's brain power

21 Jun 2001

Ha Noi - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Committee for Overseas Vietnamese (COV) launched here today a new phase of the highly successful Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) programme in Viet Nam.

"Historically, the catalyst for initiating the TOKTEN programme was to counter the 'brain drain' experienced by many developing countries, as well-educated, talented professionals seek opportunities abroad in industrialized, developed countries", explained Mr Edouard Wattez, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam. " TOKTEN volunteers can merge their acquired learning with their familiarity of local culture and language in order to effectively transfer their knowledge and skills."

UNDP and the Ministry of Planning and Invesment agreed to relaunch the TOKTEN programme in Viet Nam. The Government of Viet Nam recognizes the potential resource available in the overseas Vietnameseis expatriate community, that remains an "untapped treasure of brain power" according to Mr Nguyen Dinh Bin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of COV. "We want to create the appropriate conditions to attract the overseas Vietnamese community to make their contribution to the social and economic development of their country of origin" he said.

Whilst not every country has a sufficient expatriate population to contemplate a TOKTEN programme, Viet Nam is well placed to benefit from the expertise of Vietnamese living overseas. It is estimated that there are currently some 2.7 million overseas Vietnamese living in about 100 countries around the world, primarily in the USA, France, Australia and Canada.

The TOKTEN Roster Development Project will be implemented by the COV and UNDP. The primary objectives of this project will be: to create a TOKTEN web site and database and to promote the TOKTEN programme overseas. A TOKTEN Steering Committee will also be established to guide global TOKTEN procedures and relevant selection criteria. The committee will consist of representatives from relevant ministries, agencies and UNDP, to be headed by the Vice-Chairman of the COV.

The UNDP/UNV(United Nations Volunteer) TOKTEN programme has created databases in 25 developing countries, comprising highly trained and experienced expatriate experts interested in returning to their country of origin on short-term assignments. In the 1990s, each year more than 400 TOKTEN experts were assigned to projects of between three weeks to three months. TOKTEN experts have served governments, public and private sector enterprises, universities and other organizations in fields ranging from civil engineering and marine sciences to computer technology, management and agriculture. Countries where the scheme has been most successful include Turkey, India, China, the Philippines, Poland and Palestine.

Contact Information

UNDP Public Information Unit at (04) 942 1495