Social Headlines January 4

Party says no Tet gifts for senior officers

The Party Central Committee's Secretariat has banned its members at grassroots levels from giving Tet (Lunar New Year) gifts to senior officers.

The Party Central Committee's Secretariat has banned its members at grassroots levels from giving Tet (Lunar New Year) gifts to senior officers.

Following a newly-issued official document, signed by Le Hong Anh, Politburo member and a standing member of the secretariat, all provincial Party Committees and central-level agencies are requested to not use public funds, vehicles and property to serve individual purposes during Tet.

Further, the document calls upon people to obey the Party and the Government’s policies on practicing thrift and fighting waste during the lunar new year.

The order also requested provincial Party Committees to not sponsor visits for Party and State leaders to wish New Year’s greetings during Tet.

Also, no welcoming ceremonies will be held in the headquarters of the Party’s agencies during the upcoming 84th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam.

Localities are asked to take drastic measures to prevent crimes and fires, while assuring that the public remains safe. Also, state agencies should arrange for workers to be on duty to provide public services during the Tet holidays from January 25 and February 5.

Grads to help poor communes

Five hundred of the nation’s brightest graduates will be recruited to work in poor communal governments across the country in a new effort to reduce poverty rates and promote economic development of rural communities.

According to Vu Dang Minh, head of the Youth Affairs Department at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the project will select individuals with bachelor degrees compatible with the needs of local governments to provide much needed expertise.

“For example, we will choose applicants majoring in law to work for the commune’s judicial sector. Or if it is in shortage of accountants, we will select applicants who majored in accounting or finance. Applicants should also be prioritised to work in their hometown,” he added.

In addition to being university educated, applicants must be under 30 and ready to work in poor areas or disadvantaged mountainous ethnic-populated regions for a period of at least five years.

The four-phase project began last year with an initial survey, with the second phase of selecting, training and appointing 300 applicants to positions in 2014. The remaining 200 graduates will be recruited in 2015 to end their five-year-term in 2020.

The programme has received mixed reactions for critics, with some arguing an application process not based on examinations might become subject to bias or unfair practices, according to Minh,

The Ministry has pledged to organise public interviews to select applicants who are most deserving.

The programme, however, is not the first of its kind. In the period between 2000 and 2002, more than 500 officials were appointed to work across 125 communes in 10 provinces to tackle illiteracy rates and help develop agriculture and forestry.

More recently, 559 university graduates were selected and trained to become communal vice chairpersons in 62 poor districts in a project that will run until 2020.

FDI businesses in Dong Nai need employees

Foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses in the southern province of Dong Nai plan to employ about 120,000 workers for expanded projects in the next two years.

A recent provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs’ survey reveals FDI businesses are in dire need of skilled workers, especially technicians.

In 2013, more than 150 FDI projects were licensed, providing plenty of opportunity for local job hunters.

In the 2015-2020 period, local businesses expect to employ approximately 260,000 workers, with 60% hunted by FDI businesses.

Dong Nai is paying due attention to promoting job generation, improving practical skills for students and increasing vocational training for workers.

OV helps develop obstetrics in Laos hospital

The Dao-heuang Group led by overseas Vietnamese Le Thi Luong has inaugurated a department of obstetrics in Champassak provincial hospital, Laos.

At a cost of about US$190,000, the 252 sq. m building has four rooms with medical equipment.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the group’s representative Bunheuang Litdang expressed her thanks for the support from local authorities and Laos as a whole for the group.

The construction of the department is the group’s contributions to developing Champassak province’s health sector, increasing the quality and effectiveness of treatment, and improving locals’ health, she said.

Established for more than 20 years, the Dao-heuang Group is now one of the largest companies in Laos, specializing in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, construction, coffee planting and processing.

Land from tardy projects used to build public schools

The Ha Noi People’s Committee has revoked 2.2ha of land from delayed projects for the construction of State-owned schools.

A further 0.7ha of land of that was intended for production plants has been withdrawn to make way for schools.

The land will be used for the construction of public schools in the districts of Hai Ba Trung, Hoan Kiem, Gia Lam, Cau Giay and Dong Da.

The move was made to tackle the shortage of public schools in new urban areas.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Vu Hong Khanh said the city had asked the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to review the implementation of delayed projects to have land for public schools construction in those areas.

Inspection results showed that only 94 out of 196 plots of land had completed the work of land clearance and basic infrastructure construction, but no schools had been built.

Authorities would continue to inspect the progress of public projects as planned, he said.

The Department of Education and Training had been entrusted with reviewing the proposed construction of public schools across the city, Khanh added.

The municipal Department of Planning and Investment has been instructed to regularly check on delayed projects and report to municipal authorities on the feasibility of reclaiming land for schools or re-investment.

According to a report from the Ministry of Education and Training, the city needed roughly 7 million square metres of land to build schools.

Cold snap sickens elders, children

Thousands of elderly people and children have been hospitalised this week in HCM City due to the recent cold spell that has seen temperatures drop below 18 degrees Celsius.

The cold snap hit the city late last week and is said to be the coldest for a decade.

The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said the lowest temperature had previously recorded in the city was 21.1 degrees Celsius in 2004.

Around 10,000 children were taken to hospital during the coldest two days, and the number that was kept in for treatment was nearly that of double normal days, the hospital said.

Children were suffering from a variety of conditions such as allergic rhinitis and pneumonia due to the unusual weather changes.

Head of the Children Hospital No 2′s Respiratory Department Tran Thi Thu Loan told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that children under two years old in the city – where warm weather usually prevails all year around, had suffered the most from the unusual cold spell.

If parents did not keep their children warm, they could easily contract respiratory-related diseases such as bronchitis, Loan said.

Parents were advised to add more vitamin C to children’s diets to boost their immune systems during the cold weather, she added.

They should avoid taking their children to crowded areas where they could easily contract diseases.

Director of District 2 Hospital Tran Van Khanh said that an additional 30-50 elderly people were being hospitalised daily, mainly suffering from arthritis and pneumonia.

According to the Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre, temperatures were likely to drop again early next week.

Vocational schools deserve autonomy

Vocational schools should be given administrative autonomy, according to the head of the supervision team of the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children.

Dr. Le Van Hoc said at a meeting last week that there was no need for the General Department of Vocational Training to manage all curricula, tests and records.

Huynh Thanh Khiet, deputy head of HCM City’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the city has 430 vocational schools with 300,000 graduates each year.

Khiet said that vocational schools have faced difficulties in enrollment in recent years.

Le Van Kiem, rector of the Ton Duc Thang Vocational Training College, said that two-year training programmes at universities had affected enrolment at vocational schools.

Universities should stop the two-year training programmes in order to help vocational schools enroll learners, Kiem said.

Khiet said that vocational training quality had failed to meet the enterprises’ demand.

The training still had not matched the city’s human resource and socio-economic development plan, he added.

Moreover, counselling on vocational training for high school students had not been effective, he said.

Mai Thi Thanh Thuy, rector of the Le Thi Rieng Vocational School, said that the assistance to students had been insufficient.

The team asked universities to report about their facilities, including the usage of machines in training. They were also asked about their cooperation with enterprises in training.

Nguyen Le Dinh Hai, head of the Nguyen Truong To Vocational College’s training division, said that most enterprises have not taken the initiative to co-operate in setting up curricula for vocational schools.

Finding internships for learners at enterprises had not been easy, and ensuring working places for learners has also been a challenge.

Current laws do not penalise vocational training institutions for any violations they commit, Hai said.

Khiet suggested that the State reduce or exempt tariffs on enterprises that cooperate in vocational training.

Owners of vocational training schools should also take initiatives to sign agreements with enterprises and advertise their schools, he added.

Quang Ngai to build desalination dam

Central Quang Ngai Province will invest VND66.6 billion (US$3.2 million) to build a dam in Mo Duc District in order to desalinate sea water for irrigating 520ha of farm.

The project, which is part of the Viet Nam-Managing Natural Hazards Project and funded by the World Bank, is scheduled to be completed by 2016.

A flood last November washed away 60m of the existing dam and salt water flooded 500ha of farming land in four communes.

Nationwide thrift practice required for coming Tet

Party committees at all levels are required to implement the Party and State’s policy on thrift practice and anti-wastefulness under a recently approved official document as the 2014 Lunar New Year is drawing near.

Document No.178-CV/TW released by the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat guides authorities in all localities nationwide to make preparations for Tet celebrations while providing support for disadvantaged and social welfare beneficiaries to ensure a happy, safe and economical New Year.

New Year celebrations should be cost-effective, compatible with local cultures and customs, said the document. Violations will receive appropriate punishment.

During the celebrations, Party and State leaders will not be encouraged to pay visits to localities. Gifts for senior officials in all forms and the illegal use of public assets during the holiday are prohibited.

A crackdown on crime to ensure social order and safety, enhanced fire prevention, and adequate supply of goods and services are all requirements during the holidays.

First Vietnam Forest Festival in November 2014

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the southern province of Dong Nai will jointly host a Vietnam Forest Festival, the first of its kind in the country, in November 2014.

The event, themed “Forest – the sacred treasure”, will take place over three days at the Dong Nai Cultural Nature Reserve and Cat Tien National Park of the Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve.

Cultural performances, sports, culinary shows, traditional skill contests, and workshops will be held in praise of forest resources and forest protection efforts.

Organisers said the festival aims to introduce Vietnam’s forest resources and values and raise public awareness of forest protection for future generations.

Approximately 2,000 are expecting to attend festive activities.

Major challenges dog education reforms

Although Vietnam has carried out three post-1945 education reforms, many of its policies are now outdated, inspiring public concern.

At a Hanoi conference last November, the Party Central Committee approved a national master plan on comprehensive education reforms hoping to help the educational sector meet the demands of national development and keep pace with regional educational standards.

Education managers and experts are expecting drastic changes, but warn realising the national plan’s reform ambitions will require overcoming the entrenched attitudes of Vietnamese society.

The Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) intends to cease the expensive and time-consuming annual national tertiary entrance exams and endow universities and colleges with the authority to enroll students independently based on high school graduation exam results.

Education reforms need a boost to ease social pressure on schools, parents and students

Vietnamese mathematician Professor Hoang Tuy admits such a move would demand radical pedagogical changes in Vietnamese high schools and ensure graduation exams are conducted in a fair and objective manner.

Vietnam Learning Promotion Association Vice President Professor Pham Tat Dong says the educational sector cannot implement the master plan on its own.

“Parents must be aware their children’s future relies on genuine academic capabilities, not through bribes,” Dong stresses.

Experts say teachers will determine the master plan’s success or failure. Vietnam needs competent teachers devoted to cultivating the quality human resources national development and international integration require.

Professor Dinh Quang Bao, the former director of the Teachers’ Training Science and Research Institute, believes teacher training itself needs comprehensive reforms. He underlines widening locality disparities in teacher numbers and professional standards, saying many teachers lag behind national education reforms.

MoET Minister Pham Vu Luan recently asked six key teacher training universities to conduct fact-finding tours overseas to inquire into education development.

Professor Bao says the research is at best an initial step, pointing out the fact teachers, generally respected in society, face mounting pressure during reform campaigns.

He believes professionalising teaching, adding to its prestige as a long-term career, would be of major assistance.

Seventeen years ago, the Party Central Committee concluded the minimum salary for teachers should be the highest in State employee wage scales. But teacher salaries still dwell in 14th.

A 2012 Vietnam Education Science Institute survey revealed half of respondent teachers wished they had never chosen their career, primarily because of low incomes.

Many teachers are forced to run extracurricular classes and tutoring to cover their daily expenses, overloading students.

At a 2013 Vietnamese Teachers’ Day celebration, Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee President Nguyen Thien Nhan, who was also former MoET Minister, acknowledged extracurricular classes and tutoring are evident at almost every school.

He said some parents feel their children must attend the extra classes or risk failure due to unfamiliarity with testable material.

Only when teachers receive a living wage, will the extracurricular classes only reduce, said Nhan.

This is a big challenge for the education sector as the MoET permits universities and colleges to enrol students autonomously.

Thousands of informal training course graduates are left unemployed when they find their academic certifications are not recognised. Some provinces and cities ignore the problem.

Education managers are concerned about the feasibility of autonomous enrollment, querying how tertiary institutions intend to compensate for test quality and extracurricular tutoring.

Addressing these issues plaguing education asks challenging questions of Vietnamese society as a whole.

Germany helps develop new cooperatives in Tien Giang

A German organisation will support Tien Giang province’s implementation of a new approach to connecting cooperatives in a network that maximises opportunity and efficiency.

The German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV) will also help the province expand the reach of its preexisting new cooperatives, provide expert consultancy, host seminars, and guide the regulation of sustainable cooperative development in a market economy.

Local staff will attend training courses to augment their management, inspection, and internal auditing skills.

Tien Giang is one of the 20 Vietnamese localities the DGRV has assisted since 2004.

After ten years of DGRV-Tien Giang projects, provincial revenue has increased 250.6%, tax collection 107.5%, profit 296.4%, and average per capita income 232.5%.

Hundreds of elite graduates to help poor communes

Five hundred of the nation’s brightest graduates will be recruited to work in underprivileged communal administrations across the country in a new effort to reduce poverty rates and promote economic development of rural communities.

According to Vu Dang Minh, head of the Youth Affairs Department at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the project will select individuals with bachelor degrees compatible with the requirements by local administrations to provide much needed expertise.

“For example, we will choose applicants majoring in law to work for the commune’s judicial sector. Or if it is in shortage of accountants, we will select applicants who majored in accounting or finance. Applicants should also be prioritised to work in their hometown,” he added.

In addition to being university educated, applicants must be under 30 and ready to work in poor areas or disadvantaged mountainous ethnic-populated regions for a period of at least five years.

The four-phase project began last year with an initial survey, with the second phase of selecting, training and appointing 300 applicants to positions in 2014. The remaining 200 graduates will be recruited in 2015 to end their five-year term in 2020.

The programme has received mixed reactions for critics, with some arguing an application process not based on examinations might become subject to bias or unfair practices, according to Minh.

The ministry has pledged to organise public interviews to select applicants who are most deserving.

The programme, however, is not the first of its kind. In the period between 2000 and 2002, more than 500 officials were appointed to work across 125 communes in 10 provinces to tackle illiteracy rates and help develop agriculture and forestry.

More recently, 559 university graduates were selected and trained to become communal vice chairpersons in the 62 poorest districts in a project that will run until 2020.-

Scholars propose measures for Mekong Delta sustainable development

Economic growth must be pursued in harmony with social progress and fairness while natural resources must be tapped in an environmentally-friendly way, delegates agreed at a national workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on January 2 on Mekong Delta sustainable development.

Scholars from research institutes and universities nationwide said the regional economy should be restructured with a focus on green industries and hi-tech farming.

Associate Professor, Dr. Vo Van Sen, Rector of HCM City University of Social Science and Humanities pointed to the paradox that while the Mekong Delta is the country’s largest supplier of rice, aquatic products and fruit, the region has the worst infrastructure and local people have the lowest educational level and poorest living conditions.

Associate Professor, Dr. Nguyen Van Tiep from the National University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) stressed the need to ramp up rural infrastructure, particularly the waterway system to fully exploit the region’s numerous rivers and canals.

Dr. Thai Thi Thu Huong from the National University- HCM City said overexploitation has resulted in serious pollution of land in the delta. She also noted that the region is being hard hit by climate change, citing various research results that show the entire delta as well as two thirds of HCM City will be submerged under water if the sea level rises by 1 metre.

Therefore, experts stressed that the exploitation of natural resources must go hand in hand with preservation and regeneration to ensure sustainable development.

At the same time, participants advocated the development of human resources, focusing on poverty reduction, health care system, a comprehensive overhaul of education and training, and curtailment of bureaucracy, corruption and wastefulness.

The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is where the Mekong River flows into the country and empties into the sea through a network of tributaries.

As the country’s largest delta with a total area of over 39,700 sq.km, the region is home to 13 cities and provinces. It is a strategically key area in terms of socio-economic development on a national scale.-

Specific mechanism issued to develop Phu Quoc Island

The Prime Minister has issued a decision on a number of specific mechanisms and policies to develop Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.

Investors running projects on the island will receive the highest support under Decree No.29/2008/ND-CP of March 14, 2008 , on industrial parks, export processing zones and economic zones.

Foreign passport holders will be exempt from visa if they want to enter and stay on Phu Quoc Island for less than 30 days, according to the decision, which will take effect on March 10, 2014.

During the 2014-2015 period, investment will be poured into building the transport system on the island, including the major transport axis connecting the island’s northern and southern sections, and roads around the island, as well as an airport, a seaport, and a number of projects on socio-economic development, health care, education and urban environment.

Investors from home and abroad are encouraged to inject money into building sewage treatment systems, high-quality hospitals, and training centres for trade and tourism sectors.

Covering a total area of 574 sq. km, Phu Quoc is Vietnam ‘s largest island and dubbed as a “tourism paradise” in the south-western region.

With 109 accommodation facilities, the island offers an array of entertainment activities such as fishing, scuba diving, tours of pearl farms and swimming in the sea.

According to a master plan on Kien Giang’s socio-economic development by 2020, Phu Quoc Island will become a special administrative-economic zone by the end of this decade with its role as a national and international hi-end ecotourism and entertainment centre and a regional financial hub.

It will also act as a forest and marine biodiversity conservation centre that holds a special position in security and national defence.

The island has so far attracted 206 investment projects worth over four trillion VND (190.5 million USD). Of the total, 13 projects have already been put into operation.

Steel firm fined VND100 million

A factory producing steel electric poles and metal plated components in Ha Noi’s Me Linh District was fined VND100 million (US$4,700) for improperly transferring dangerous waste.

The factory, a subsidiary of Power Construction and Installation Company Ltd No 4 that began operating in 2006, was found to have allowed unqualified organisations and individuals to dispose of their industrial waste.

The Ha Noi People’s Committee also asked the factory to repair any damage caused by their actions by January 8.

Hand hygiene campaign launched in Da Nang

Da Nang Obstetrics and Pediatrics Hospital has promoted hand hygiene practices in its neonatal care unit.

Hand hygiene has been singled out as the most important measure in preventing hospital-acquired infections. Campaign organisers said that health care associated infections have persisted as a major problem in the neonatal care unit.

At the launching ceremony on January 2, experts guided hand washing techniques to healthcare workers and patients’ family members. Medical workers were also taught how to clean medical equipment properly.

Many medical workers and patients’ family members have yet understood the importance of hand hygiene practices, said Suzanna Lubran, head of Newborns Vietnam Trustee.

Neonates are susceptible to infections because their host defence mechanisms are not mature. Germs on hands could lead to high risks of infant mortality, said Lubran.

In 2013, Da Nang Obstetrics and Pediatrics Hospital received 3,000 patients with bacterial contamination.

The campaign has so far been launched at 16,000 clinics all over the world.

Ministries asked to keep track of disease developments

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has instructed ministries, sectors and localities to keep a close watch on the situation of diseases so as to have timely measures in case the diseases occur.

At a teleconference in Hanoi on January 2 on works to prevent diseases in 2013 and plans for 2014, Dam affirmed the need to prevent the smuggling of poultry, cattle and their body parts as a way to stop the spread of diseases, ensure food safety and protect people’s health.

Ministries and sectors were urged to improve inspections and handle smuggling cases firmly, as well as canvass people to participate in the fight against smuggling.

The Deputy PM suggested the Health Ministry should raise people’s awareness of preventive measures, and check the living environments and eating habits of people to work with other agencies to carry out campaigns on protecting their health.

According to the Health Ministry, 2013 saw decreases in the number of infectious disease cases and fatalities.

It timely reported to the Prime Minister the disease situation and developments, as well as successfully coordinated with the People’s Committees of provinces and cities in implementing preventive measures.

However, infectious epidemics are unpredictable and occur inside and outside the country.

The ministry asked the Government to set up a National Steering Committee on preventing diseases, and strictly quarantine people and animals at border gates to stop the penetration of dangerous diseases.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV

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