A section of the Cat Linh-Ha Dong Line
Research contest launched to improve labour policies
The contest’s research findings are expected to facilitate the formation and implementation of labour policies.
Vietnam needs to cut recurrent spending to ensure healthy budget
In the first quarter of 2018, regular spending accounted for more than 76% of total expenditure.
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has recently proposed raising a number of taxes such as the environmental protection tax and the value added tax.
One of the reasons cited by the MOF for the proposed tax hikes is to restructure the state budget to ensure that the nation’s finances are safe and sustainable. The effort will focus on fine-tuning the tax policy and expanding the tax base, especially new sources of revenues in line with international practices.
As revenues from international trade activities are declining due to tariff cuts as a result of free trade agreements, the search for new sources to offset the shortfall is a necessary and urgent task.
However, a budget has to cover both revenue and spending. Measures to increase revenues are being proposed and implemented aggressively while those aimed at restructuring expenditure have received inadequate attention. A problem in the spending structure which is yet to be resolved, is the immense proportion of recurrent spending.
In the first quarter of 2018, regular spending accounted for more than 76% of total expenditure, while spending on investment and development accounted for just 12%.
It is apparent that recurrent spending can be significantly reduced immediately by streamlining and downsizing the cumbersome administrative apparatus, as well as by practising thrift and preventing waste in state budget spending.
Despite this, a government report suggests that many ministries, agencies, and local authorities have not yet formulated their own programmes on reducing spending.
While these units are inattentive to the issue and make little effort in its resolution, it is unlikely that the budget deficit will be reduced. The spirit of thrift in recurrent spending should be propagated among the leaders of all units funded by the government budget.
Budget restructuring is an imperative to guarantee the stability and sustainability of the nation’s finances. Therefore, in addition to measures to increase revenues, it is necessary to take action to cut back on recurrent spending.
Vietnam’s ‘crazy house’ named among world’s ‘coolest’ buildings
UK travel magazine Lonely Planet has unveiled its list of the 120 most breathtaking human constructions on Earth, and a bizarre building in Vietnam has made the list.
The magazine’s new “A Spotter’s Guide to Amazing Architecture” introduces the world’s “coolest” constructions and where to see them.
Hang Nga Guesthouse, dubbed the “Crazy House” in the Central Highlands town Da Lat, has been recognized for its extraordinary exterior which resembles a monstrous banyan tree.
Around one kilometer from the center of Da Lat, the guesthouse was officially opened in 1990, and has been compared to the amazing architecture of world-acclaimed constructions such as the Salvador Dalí Museum and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The design by Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga was inspired by the poetic natural scenery of the dreamy city and the architectural works of Catalan master Antoni Gaud.
Once forgotten, it has now emerged as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam’s city of love, where visitors have to pay for VND50,000 (US$2.20) for an entrance ticket to satisfy their curiosity.
Lonely Planet list also includes the Taj Mahal (India), Sydney Opera House (Australia), St Basil’s Cathedral (Russia), Pena Palace (Portugal) and Lincoln Cathedral (UK)
This is not the first time the guesthouse has earned global plaudits.
The UK-based travel magazine last year hailed Vietnam’s astonishing building as a secret marvel, saying “Crazy House is different from every angle: on one side, warped walls seem menacing and windows glare like eye sockets; from another, traditional Vietnamese designs adorn the eaves.”
In 2016, the leading US architecture website Archdaily included Hang Nga on its list of the world’s most unusual buildings.
Chemotherapy applied for treating cancer patients at final stage
Hoan My Cuu Long Hospital in the Mekong Delta City of Can Tho said it has used chemotherapy for treating cancer patients. This is considered as a great progress in cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy means to use chemicals for treating cancer patients. The chemicals will kill cancer cells or prevent them from separating into more diseased cells.
The method is used to shrink tumors and/or stop the cancer from growing and spreading. This can help the person with cancer feel better and live longer. This method can be applied for treating all kinds of cancers especially stomach, colorectal cancer, or breast cancer, lung cancer and bladder cancer.
Dr. Tang Van Phong said that chemotherapy in treating colorectal cancer plays an important role because it reduces relapse and live longer amongst cancer patients of third and second stage. Doctors will inject chemicals to patients who need not to stay in hospitals to save cost.
Film screening program celebrates national holidays
A scene in the film Me oi con da ve (Mom, I came back home)
Dong Thap culture promoted in HCMC
An exhibition presenting cultural characteristics of the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap will be held at The Garden Mall in Ho Chi Minh City’s district 5 from April 27-29.
Dong Thap culture promoted in HCMC
The event aims to promote and introduce typical products, traditional craft villages, images of the land and people of Dong Thap as well as enhancing the development of the provincial tourism industry.
Visitors will have a chance to enjoy a corner of countryside market, various kinds of flowers of Sa Dec traditional flower villages, products made of lotus and rice, the provincial popular agricultural products, local special dishes; and join in art performance and trade promotional exchange.
Highlights of activities are Don ca tai tu (Southern folk music) performance by the Dong Thap art troupe and an art program performed by the Cho Lon Theater.
The event is co-organized by the People’s Committee of Dong Thap province, Vietnam Signature Joint Stock Company.
Magnifique Wedding Fair at Sofitel Saigon Plaza
The Sofitel Saigon Plaza will organize its first-ever wedding fair taking place in the hotel’s Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on May 12, 2018.
Fundraising concert organized for My Lai Peace Park
An artist’s impression of My Lai Peace Park – PHOTO: COURTESY OF MY LAI PEACE FOUNDATION
My Lai Peace Foundation is a non-government and non-profit organization founded in late 2016. Its mission is to promote the cultural and educational development, heal war wounds and support the community in the Southcentral province of Quang Ngai.
Driving schools focus on guaranteed pass instead of skills in HCM City
A man practices his driving skills in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Many driving schools in Ho Chi Minh City are focusing on offering guaranteed passing of driving tests instead of providing important knowledge for their learners.
These centers often encourage learners to pay additional fees aside from tuition in return for guaranteed success in theory tests required for driver’s licenses.
Those agreeing to pay for the easy exams are now facing an inevitable consequence as they find themselves lacking the necessary skills and knowledge to drive an automobile in real life.
Nguyen Thanh Tung, who lives in Go Vap District, recalled paying VND4 million (US$176) for a driving course at a local training center.
Tung was also told to give the facility another VND1.5 million (US$66) if he wanted to pass his theory test without having to actually study.
After agreeing to the request, Tung found himself doing literally nothing during the exam.
As the theory tests were computer-based, all of his answers were automatically completed, he said.
Similar, Bui Thi Hoa, an office worker in the southern metropolis, said she had picked a VND5.5 million (US$242) training course to prepare for her driver’s license test.
The course included 32 hours of practice and four theory lessons, as well as a 100% guaranteed pass, Hoa said.
However, she was required to pay an additional VND2.9 million (US$128) for examination fees and necessary documents.
If Hoa did not have time for the compulsory heath check-up, the center could also take care of that problem for just VND190,000 (US$8).
After attaining her driver’s license, Hoa discovered that she did not have enough theoretical knowledge to drive an automobile.
She often broke traffic laws and could not properly perform basic moves such as backing up or making a U-turn.
Following repeated fines for her traffic violations, Hoa decided to study again by herself and ask a friend to help her practice driving.
Meanwhile, Phan Quoc Bao, a resident in Phu Nhuan District, said he had been scammed by a driving school based in Thu Duc District.
Bao was not given enough time for his practice, thus being unable to know how to drive at the end of the course.
Replying to his complaint, an employee of the school asserted that they had fulfilled their responsibilities during the training course and suggested that Bao pay for another course if he fails his driving test.
According to Tran Quoc Khanh, chief inspector of the municipal Department of Transport, the agency has received many reports regarding irregularities at local driving schools.
The transport department is expected to work with other competent agencies to carry out comprehensive inspections at these facilities.
If necessary, officers will also disguise as learners to detect violations, said Trinh Van Minh, deputy head of the office in charge of issuing driver’s licenses under the transport department.
3 new vaccines to be used in national expanded vaccination programme
Khanh Hoa province braces for natural disasters
The People’s Committee of the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa has ordered departments, branches and local authorities to carry out measures to respond to unusual weather patterns in 2018.
Authorities at all levels should inspect and identify flood-risk and landslide-prone areas while setting up plans to evacuate local residents from regions that are affected by rising sea levels spurred by typhoons to safer places.
Due attention must be paid to arranging relevant forces to enhance inspections and speed up measures preventing natural calamities in dangerous localities.
In case of storms and tropical depressions, communal authorities should join hands with the border guards to grasp the exact number of aquatic breeding cages, fishing vessels and local fishermen who are operating offshore. Prompt support should be put in place for the fishermen.
Training and rehearsals should be organised for relevant forces while stockpiling of essential items like food, fuel, medicine and water must be paid due attention.
Khanh Hoa is currently home to nearly 30 reservoirs with total capacity of 250 million cubic metres, many of them have been degraded and pose great threats to local livelihoods. However, limited financial resources hamper repairs of the reservoirs.
Relevant authorities are required to manage and give timely response in case the reservoirs break out.
The provincial military high command is asked to set up rational search and rescue plan and help localities recover the aftermath of the disasters.
Last year, storm Damrey, the 12th typhoon hitting Vietnam in the year, wreaked havocs on the coastline of Khanh Hoa province. It destroyed 302 homes and blew the roofs off nearly 25,500 others, including 8,759 in Nha Trang city, 5,800 in Van Ninh district and 7,173 in Khanh Vinh district. There was also extensive damage to 3,748 hectares of rice, 1,200 hectares of wheat, 1,119 hectares of other crops and over 35,000 aquatic cages.
According to reports of localities and ministries, up to 27 of the deaths were in the province, where the centre of Damrey was recorded when the storm made landfall.
High-rise residential buildings may not be allowed in urban centers
The Government has tasked the Ministry of Transport to coordinate with relevant ministries, agencies and Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City to review 10-year implementation of the Resolution No. 16/2008/NQ-CP dated on July 31, 2008 on gradual reduction of traffic congestions in the two cities.
Based on the review outcomes, the Ministry of Transport will develop a new resolution and submit to the Government before June 30 this year.
The new resolution must include a series of solutions to ease pressure on the cities, including putting stop to construction of high-rise residential buildings in urban centers, the Government ordered.
Alternative education approaches proving popular
Modern Montessori International (MMI), a Singaporean company specializing in early childhood education, opened its largest overseas pre-school campus at the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) in southern Binh Duong province in mid-2017. The new campus was built with initial investment of $2 million and is the company’s first in Vietnam directly owned by MMI Singapore. According to Mr. Steven Kho, Country Manager of MMI Vietnam, they intend to almost double student numbers to 170 by September.
MMI Vietnam is one of many schools offering the Montessori method of education. For the past ten years, people in Vietnam have begun to refer to Montessori as a great educational method for children, especially those aged six years or less. A wide range of investment models for education in accordance with the new method have been developed at all levels to meet demand among parents.
Montessori is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. In traditional education, adults decide what children need to learn and the ability to retain and reproduce information is used as a measure of academic success. The teacher is the active provider of information and children are passive receivers. In Montessori classrooms, meanwhile, children make creative choices in their learning, while the classroom and the teacher offer age-appropriate activities to guide the process.
While parents in Hanoi know about Montessori schools such as Sakura Montessori School, Sunrise Kids, and MON Montessori School, those in Ho Chi Minh City are more familiar with Montessori International School of Vietnam, WonderKids Montessori School, and others. The method has also spread to other cities and provinces, such as Hai Phong, Binh Duong, Quang Ninh, and Thai Binh.
Ms. Le Minh Trang, a 29-year-old in Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem district, has a daughter studying at Sakura Montessori in the Dich Vong new urban area in Cau Giay district. “She is just over two years old but I can see she has become much more independent after studying at Sakura,” she said. “She likes to be independent rather than asking for my help, singing and reading poems she learned in class.”
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is also a popular education program in Vietnam at the higher education level. Its curricula are based on the idea of educating students in those four specific disciplines with an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
To develop the method, during the 2016-2017 academic year the British Council in Vietnam worked with the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) to implement a pilot project entitled “Applying the UK STEM Approach in the Vietnam Context in 2016-2017”. The project featured 15 State-owned and private secondary schools and high schools in five provinces in the north of Vietnam. Ms. Tran Phuong Nga, an eleventh grader at The Olympia School, one of the 15, said that when there is a problem that cannot be understood it is explained by experiments, as a way to inspire the students. “If you have the money, you can buy the materials to conduct the experiments,” she said. “And if you don’t have much money, you can take advantage of older equipment,” she said.
On May 4 last year, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a directive on tackling the challenges posed by Industry 4.0, including solutions for enhancing STEM education in high schools.
Besides Montessori and STEM, another method providing knowledge in social sciences and soft skills training has also received a great deal of attention from parents and students in recent times. These life skills training centers, summer camps, and army training camps are well-suited and professionally-invested by the private sector and have attracted large numbers of students. For example, established in 2011, the Asia Pacific Talent Youth Training Center (ATY) has conducted 438 major and minor programs, including military semesters and more intensive training such as Hi! Teacher, Teen Leadership Training, and Living Strong, among others.
Mr. Luong Dung Nhan, Deputy Director of Training at ATY, told VET that modern life significantly reduces the amount of time parents spend with their children, and children’s study time also accounts for a very high proportion of their lives. “This leads to a lack of opportunities for children to explore their own abilities, to understand and master their emotions, to handle the diverse needs of life,” he said. “This is the main reason we have introduced such programs.”
Education has always been given great importance in Vietnam and education development is listed among the top seven foreign investment promotion categories in the country. Demand for sending children to an international learning environment for a higher quality education is on the rise, making the market more attractive for investors.
Recent research from Taylor Nelson (TNS) showed that the highest expenditure by Vietnamese people is on education, accounting for 47 per cent of the total. Families are clearly increasing their investment in the education of their children, making the private education market quite robust. “Parents are now choosing private schools for their children because they want a greater choice of good education programs,” Ms. Nguyen Thi Kieu Oanh, Chairwoman of the Canadian International School, told VET.
Nearly 60 per cent of Vietnam’s population of some 95 million were under 35 years of age as at 2017. With more disposable income than in previous years, young Vietnamese, with the support of their parents, are eager to obtain the skills and knowledge required by employers. Companies, meanwhile, are taking advantage of this newly-skilled and highly-educated population.
Mr. T Chandroo, CEO and Chairman of the MMI Group, told local media that the reason behind the expansion in Vietnam was the market’s enormous potential, with the ratio of the population aged below 35 promising current and future demand for early childhood education. “Rising income levels and growing affluence have also led to an increase in young professionals with higher purchasing power who wish to provide their children with the best learning opportunities,” he said.
Investors can also find new opportunities from new government policy. Education institutions registered to operate for less than 20 years are no longer obliged to build their own facilities and are allowed to rent suitable schools, buildings or workshop areas for at least five years. Investors are also allowed to expand their brand by opening other campuses in the same city or elsewhere.
It’s also worth noting that Vietnam remains one of the best destinations for foreign investment in Southeast Asia. In an interview with local media, Ms. Tran Thi Phi Yen, Executive Director of the IvyPrep Institute, offering pre-university training under US standards in Vietnam, said the country’s political stability and economic growth are behind the increasing investment in education. “The capital businesses invest in the sector is still modest compared to other sectors, so education is a fertile market for investors seeking opportunities,” she said.
Figures provided by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency show that Vietnam had attracted some $761.4 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) via 386 projects in the education and training sector as at February. Demand for a high-quality education is reaching new heights, providing favorable opportunities for foreign investors to enter the market.
Education is an attractive sector for investment in Vietnam given the country is in need of international-standard learning environments. Though programs like Montessori, STEM and others are quite attractive, they must address a host of challenges, including the fact that they’re a new concept.
Mr. Nhan from ATY said that while there are many new programs available, the number of students attending is still low, due to educational models like military semesters being extracurricular activities that can only be attended during the student’s free time.
Fees are also a matter of concern. “I have two children. My family’s monthly income is about VND30 million ($1,300), so all our spending must be carefully calculated,” said Ms. Trang. Monthly pre-school fees at MMI Vietnam are around $600, for example, which are out of reach for most middle-income families.
Though investors can find new opportunities offered by new government policy, there are also some legal issues that need to be considered. According to Decree No. 73/2012ND-CP, dated November 15, 2012, only foreign children can attend international pre-schools. Vietnamese children under five years old are not allowed to enjoy any form of general education provided by foreign investors. Regarding teacher qualifications, the decree stipulates that foreign teachers must have at least five years of experience before they can teach at Vietnamese education institutions or at foreign-invested schools, colleges and universities.
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