HCM City has stem cell assoc

The government of HCMC has licensed the establishment of a stem cell association to serve hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

According to health experts, the biggest problem with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is a limited number of donors as Vietnam’s current population policy encourages each family to have two children only.

Stem cells can only be extracted from biological siblings, making it difficult for patients to have homologous bone marrow transplants.

At present, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is accessible in many countries. However, most of them are done by a traditional method that removes the bone marrow of the recipient to create an environment for stem cells to grow.

In 2012, the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion was put into operation to serve hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, the most advanced blood disease treatment at present.

Biodiversity conservation centre opened

A rescue and conservation centre was opened in Hoang Lien National Park in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai last Thursday.

The Hoang Lien Centre is part of the park's biodiversity conservation and rescue project.

The centre is entrusted with the tasks of rescuing, protecting and breeding plant and animal species; providing advice on rescue and conservation measures; establishing a biodiversity database, and increasing international cooperation in the field of conservation.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, director of the Hoang Lien National Park, said the establishment of the centre was particularly important since the park was given an "A" rating - the highest rating possible - by the Global Environment Fund for the value of its biodiversity.

The 30,000ha park was recognised by the ASEAN Secretariat as a regional heritage site in 2006.

The park is surrounded by a buffer zone of 38,724ha, which borders a number of communes in the northern province of Lai Chau.

Da Nang prepares for natural disasters

More than 58,100 households with over 245,200 people in the central city of Da Nang will be evacuated in case of a super storm following the city's plan on natural disaster prevention and control.

The scenario, which was approved by the city's People's Committee on Thursday, is designed to help local residents brace for strong storms; typhoons, floods; flash floods, reservoir breaks and tsunamis.

Since 1998, disasters have killed 219 people in the city and injured 226 others, with more than 138,000 houses damaged. Total losses are estimated at nearly VND10 trillion (US$476 million).

Firms suspended for polluting

The Natural Resources and Environment Department in the southern province of Tay Ninh has decided to temporarily suspend operation of 44 tapioca and rubber manufacturers for violating environmental regulations.

Inspectors found the companies had failed to build standard waste treatment facilities and were discharging untreated waste into the environment.

They will only be allowed to resume operations after waste treatment systems are completed in line with regulations.

Local authorities have extended the deadlines for the companies to complete their waste treatment facilities twice. The latest deadline was June this year, but they still failed to meet the regulations.

Int'l police gather to fight human trafficking

Police from 17 countries are gathering in HCM City to strengthen regional efforts to combat people smuggling and human trafficking.

Thanks to a long-term partnership between the Australian Federal Police, the Ministry of Public Security and RMIT University, 25 law enforcement officials from across Southeast Asia and South Asia have been selected to participate in the 35th Asia Region Law Enforcement Management Programme (ARLEMP) which began in HCM City on September 1.

"Through collaborative action, police are able to apply maximum pressure in detecting and deterring people smugglers and human traffickers. By working together, we can more effectively target organised criminal networks and prevent crimes involving the irregular movement of people," said Steve Lancaster, the Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner for Operation Sovereign Borders at the ARLEMP opening ceremony.

At the event, Major General Nguyen Phi Hung, deputy director general of the Police General Department on Crime Prevention and Suppression also noted that: "Vietnam joins the international community in condemning those people who are involved in smuggling and trafficking people. As a result, Vietnam is pleased to partner with Australia to provide an opportunity for police to work together to stop these crimes."

Prof. Gael McDonald, President of RMIT Vietnam, also stressed that the university was proud to continue to work with AFP and the Vietnamese government in "delivering this important transnational policing programme."

"We have witnessed that during the three weeks of intense cooperative learning, participants have raised their level of respect, mutual understanding, and their ability to collaborate across borders," he said.

ARLEMP graduates have gone on to be appointed to international roles as Police Liaison Officers with the United Nations and other leading international taskforce teams addressing transnational crime, and often credit ARLEMP for helping them to forge links and develop working relationships with other foreign law-enforcement agencies.

Through these postings, ARLEMP graduates are mobilising successful actions to combat serious organised crime, including money laundering, people smuggling and human trafficking.

Medical devices lack oversight

There is much room for improvement in the management of the quality and trading of home medical equipment, according to health experts.

Dong Van Thanh, deputy head of the Health Examination Ward of the Ha Noi-based Bach Mai Hospital, said that in previous years, home medical equipment such as thermometers, inhalers and machines for measuring blood pressure and blood sugar were selling well.

The useful equipment helped people realise the state of their health and the need to prevent and control any detected disease, but some of the equipment being sold were of substandard quality, Thanh noted.

As a result, some patients were getting erroneous blood pressure and blood sugar readings on the defective machines and would learn, sometimes too late, that their health had worsened and required immediate medical treatment, remarked Thanh.

"Home medical equipment can only support treatment and disease supervision. The patients should not depend too much on them because they can give erroneous information," he added.

Moreover, the users could buy the equipment on the internet or from small health appliance stores to ensure that when the equipment malfunctions, they would be covered by warranty or repair guarantees.

Tran Thanh Tam, a trader of medical equipment on Phuong Mai Street, Dong Da District, said home medical equipment was selling like hot cakes.

Each machine was worth only a few hundreds of thousands of dong, so many people did not hesitate to buy, Tam added.

Nguyen Minh Tuan, director of the Department of Medical Equipment and Health Facilities under the Ministry of Health (MOH), told the Nguoi lao dong (Labourer) newspaper that in the draft decree on medical equipment management, which the MOH earlier edited and submitted to the Government, enterprises selling home medical equipment must send documents on equipment quality to local medical stations for review and inspection.

If the equipment did not measure up to standards, it should be taken off the shelves.

Nguyen Viet Cuong, chief inspector of the Ha Noi Department of Health, said that in the future, city inspectors would improve their inspection of the origins of home medical equipment that were being sold in shops.

"Residents should be vigilant of unlicensed products because these don't have instructions for use in Vietnamese and are not under warranty," Cuong said.

Workshop proposes state budget increase for HIV/AIDS fight

Vietnam should include HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in its national health care plan and increase State funding for them so as to maintain the good results of these schemes , a representative from the Ministry of Health (MoH) has said.

Phan Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Director of the MoH’s Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control mave the suggestion at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City on August 29, which discussed strategies for preventing HIV/AIDS in the coming time.

She noted that most HIV/AIDS control programmes in the country have so far relied on foreign aid, which provided 80 percent of total expenses. However, many aid projects have been completed and many others have had their budget cut, requiring Vietnam to promptly put in place a good strategy to sustain the results of HIV/AIDS control efforts.

Statistics of the Department show that there are nearly 220,000 persons living with HIV in Vietnam, and the South-east region sees the highest infection rate with 408 cases per 100,000 people.

According to Huong, the MoH has worked with the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Vietnam to set up an investment strategy for preventing HIV/AISD for the 2015-2020 period. The strategy focuses on consolidating the HIV/AIDS prevention networks from the central to local levels, improving the quality of service providers, further investing in measures targeting high-risk groups and regions, and ensuring sustainable financial resources for the work.

At the end of April this year, Vietnam counted 219,163 people living with HIV and 67,557 AIDS patients. The virus has led to the death of some 69,449 people across the country.

Proposal eyes housing support for half million poor families

Half a million poor households in rural areas will receive support to improve their housing conditions under a new proposal just submitted to the Government for approval by the Ministry of Construction.

The proposal lines out different types of support from the State budget for specific groups of beneficiaries in the second phase of a State policy on housing support for the needy.

A total of 18.4 trillion VND (1.15 billion USD) will be needed to carry out the plan, which aims to improve the poor’s living standards and contribute to sustainable poverty reduction.

The money will be sourced from the central and local budgets, preferential loans and contribution from the whole community, including the target people.

Under the plan, each beneficiary household will receive aid in cash ranging from 5-14 million VND depending on their specific situation and local conditions, as well as preferential loans to build or upgrade their house that should be resistant to floods and storms.

The target of this plan are poor people not entitled to other housing support programmes which are being or will be carried out, such as the scheme on building flood-proof residential areas in the Mekong Delta, the resettlement programme for residents living in disaster-prone and poor areas, and the building of flood-proof houses for poor people in the central region.

Local statistics showed that there are about 510,000 households facing accommodation difficulties in the 2101-2015 period.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the rate of poor households in Vietnam has dropped from 22 percent in 2005 to 7.8 percent last year.

USAID-funded HIV prevention project launched in An Giang

A community-based HIV prevention project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was launched at a workshop held in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on August 29.

To be implemented in 2013-2016 in the districts of Chau Phu, Phu Tan, Cho Moi and Thoai Son, the project will focus on aiding HIV/AIDS patients in accessing care, treatment and preventive services.

Its objectives are also to provide management and medical treatment for about 980 people living with HIV, sex workers, drug addicts, and gays and lesbians at their home as well as in clinics, hospitals, preventive medical centres and HIV prevention centres every year.

As part of the project, training courses will be also organised to provide medical workers with preventive skills and teach them how to effectively take care HIV-infected persons, thus further aiding the national HIV-AIDS prevention programmes.

At the workshop, Bui Duc Duong, Deputy Director of the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention under the Ministry of Health underlined the need to raise public awareness of HIV prevention, expressing his hope the project will be performed effectively in the locality.

The project is hoped to benefit a large number of people living with HIV/AIDS in An Giang, while further fostering efforts to prevent transmissions in communities.

Along with An Giang, similar projects are carried out in Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho city from now to May 2016, in expectation of providing preventive services and medical treatment to about 6,000 people who are HIV/AIDS patients and those at high risk of infecting the deadly virus every year.

Overseas activities mark National Day

A number of events were organised by Vietnamese embassies abroad in celebration of the 69 th anniversary of National Day (September 2).

Addressing a ceremony in Paris on September 2, Vietnamese Ambassador to France Duong Chi Dung highlighted the increasing maturity of Vietnam-France relations, especially since the two countries signed a strategic partnership agreement in September 2013 during Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to France. The diplomat considered the bilateral relationship as proof for Vietnam’s development and international integration.

He highly valued the contributions made by the Vietnamese community to strengthening the bilateral ties.

Guests emphasised the two countries’ relations. Bernard Miyet, former United Nations under-secretary-general for peace-keeping operations, said the historic ties connected the people of France and Vietnam. He acknowledged Vietnam’s role in the international arena, and underlined the country’s contribution to building a better world by joining UN peace-keeping missions.

In Germany, a ceremony was held at the Vietnamese House (Viethaus) in Berlin with the participation of representatives from German ministries and parliament, and agencies abroad.

Ambassador Nguyen Thi Hoang Anh hailed the success of the year 2014, which has seen a number of exchange visits between the two countries. The two countries are preparing for the 40 th anniversary of their diplomatic ties in 2015.

Clemens von Goetze from the German Foreign Ministry expressed his hope that the next year will bring more opportunities to strengthen citizen exchanges between the two countries. A German business conference for the Asian-Pacific region (APK) taking place in Ho Chi Minh City from November 20-22 is expected to achieve breakthroughs in trade and investment for the two countries as well as the region as a whole.

During an event in Cairo, Vietnamese Ambassador to Egypt Dao Thanh Chung emphasised the significance of the August Revolution in 1945 for Vietnam and the world, and highlighted the country’s achievements over the past 69 years.

He also thanked the Egyptian government for its help in evacuating Vietnamese citizens working in Libya.

That same day, National Day receptions were held by the Vietnamese ambassadors to Algeria, Laos and Singapore. The diplomats acknowledged the friendships and mutual cooperation between Vietnam and the respective countries.

Viettel donates cattle to rural poor in Lao Cai province

As many as 2,000 breeding cows are to be donated to thousands of needy families in the northern province of Lao Cai by the end of 2015.

This move is part of the programme “Joining hands with the community”, initiated by Lao Cai People’s Committee and the military-run branch in Lao Cai in an effort to develop agriculture in rural areas.

Most of the capital for the programme was generated by Viettel’s new user-driven fundraising campaign. As part of the campaign, every 15 customers signing up for Viettel mobile services for three years contribute to the purchase and donation of a cow, costing 15 million VND( 698USD) each.

During the first three months of implementation, 120 cows worth VND 1.8 billion ( 85,714USD), were given to disadvantaged households in Bac Ha, Muong Khuong, Si Ma Cai and Bat Xat districts.

Since 2012, the Vietnam Red Cross has donated 221 cows via the “ Cow Bank” project to help poor farmers in Muong Khuong and Bac Ha escape from poverty.

Khmer people enjoy sweet taste of success

Khmer ethnic people in An Giang province’s Tinh Bien district are very proud of their sweet speciality, Thot not sugar, which is made from the sap of palmyra palms.

This kind of palm sugar is distinguished by its dark yellow colour, sweat taste and special flavour, which is quite different from other sorts of sugar.

In Tinh Bien district, almost all houses owned by the Khmer people are surrounded by palmyra palms, sometimes fields full.

Thot not trees have the appearance of both coconut palms and sugar date palms. Every year, the trees produce fruit from October to the following April, according to the lunar calendar.

Thot not sugar has become popular for its sweet smell. It can be used for preparing sweetened porridge or other similar dishes.

According to a research by Indian scientists, palmyra palm sugar can be used for preventing diabetes because of its light sweet taste. It is also good for preventing strokes and heart problems, especially for children and women.

Thot not sugar is produced by tapping the sap from the inflorescence of a palmyra palm. It takes a palmyra palm 15 years to flower and produce enough sap for cooking sugar.

In order to collect the sap, workers must climb to the top of the palm tree, cut its flowers and then catch the liquid oozing from the cuts. Once the sap is collected, it must be cooked within 12 hours. Otherwise it can become sour.

In April every year, in all corners of the area inhabited by the Khmer people, sugar workshops operate.

Palm sap is poured into a pan and is cooked until it becomes condensed and fragrant.

At first, the cooking stage is thought to be simple, but it is not so. If the cook is not careful, the batch of sugar will be burned. Therefore, it is necessary for the cook to watch the fire and stir constantly for many hours to get a delicious batch of sugar.

Neang Quach, a producer of Thot not sugar in Nhon Hung Commune, Tinh Bien district said for each batch of sugar, she pours around 30 litres of sap and then she will add some more when it evaporates.

According to her, about 90 litres of sap can produce around 16 kilos of sugar. When the sap is condensed, she will take the pan out and stir firmly. Moreover, it is necessary to control the fire carefully.

When the cooking stage is finished, palm sugar is poured into small round moulds and then packed in plastic bags. There is also a traditional way of packaging where the sugar is covered by dry palm leaves.

Today, Thot not sugar is distributed in many localities in the country and also exported to Japan.

A palm tree can only give about 20 kilos of sugar each crop. In order to cook a batch of sugar, it is necessary to extract from so many trees. During the peak season, even at night, many people still work hard to get the last drops of the sap from the trees.

An Giang province now accommodates 30,000 palmyra palms that can produce more than 6,000 tonnes of sugar a year. This is the main income source of the Khmer people.

Tuyen Quang completes yearly reforestation plan

The northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang has planted trees on 13,870 ha of land, completing the yearly plan ahead of schedule, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Le Tien Thang, director of the department, said five districts and a city have surpassed their targets while only Na Hang district has met 99 percent of its plan.

The result is attributable to the department’s close coordination with authorities at communal and district levels as well as forestry companies to clear up land for reforestation and raise local people’s awareness of the forest’s roles and value, thus encouraging many economic sectors to invest in forest planting.

With 60 percent of its natural area under forest, one of the highest coverage rates in the country, Tuyen Quang has long considered commercial forestry as one of its spearhead economic sectors. The province currently houses more than 50 factories processing forestry products.

30,000 tourists visit grave of General Vo Nguyen Giap during holidays

Border gate guards in the central province of Quang Binh September 2 said that in nearly 30,000 holidaymakers visited the grave of General Vo Nguyen Giap in the Vung Chua-Dao Yen area during national holidays.

Nguyen Cao Ky, deputy head of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that there  was an increase in the number of domestic and international visitors arriving in the Vung Chua-Dao Yen (Swallow Island) from the beginning of the year.

More than 2.2 million tourists, a surge of 145 percent compared to the same period last year flocked to the area.

Also in the national holidays, thousands of travelers flew to Quang Binh to visit the legendary general’s memorial house in An Xa Village, Loc Thuy Commune, Le Thuy District.

Other international well-known tourist destinations such as Thien Duong ( Heaven) Cave and Phong Nha Cave also received more than 5,000 holidaymakers each day in four-day national holidays. Hotels are full of visitors coming from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Holiday heats up city market

The National Holiday lasting four days since the last Saturday has boosted the purchasing power which was in a long drop especially in traditional markets in Ho Chi Minh City.  

According to traders, the purchasing power increased by 30 percent compared to before the holiday in traditional markets such as Van Thanh, Tan Son Nhat, Pham Van Hai, Hoang Hoa Tham, Binh Trieu and Go Vap. The highest increase was on seafood group, reaching 50 percent.

Seafood and vegetable prices have been up by 5-10 percent while pork and chicken prices remain unchanged. However, it is predicted that prices will soon return as before after the holiday, .

Supermarkets and malls saw more customers during the holiday. The revenue at several supermarkets increased 30-50 percent thanks to large promotional programs.

Country's leading supermarket chain Co.opMart reported sales higher than normal days by 40-50 percent in the first week of its promotional program ‘Proud of Vietnamese Goods’.  The bestselling has been on food, chemical products and cosmetics.

Several businesses attending in the Promotional Month Fair at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium, District 11, have also reported good sales.

HCMC authority asks Education Department to report on E-textbook plan

Ho Chi Minh city's People's Committee  yesterday asked the Department of Education and Training to report a plan on requiring elementary students to use tablets that has currently raised public concern.

The committee also asked the director of the Department of Education and Training  to recapitulate opinions of educational experts, teachers and the public after two seminars on the project " E-textbothe and tablets" and send the report to the city authority.

Last month the department suggested the plan to be used for the 2014-2015 academic year and obeyed for all 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders in the city. The plan is expected to use electronic tablets in "smart classe" where traditional textbooks are replaced by modern tablets integrated with e-textbooks.

The plan is estimated to cost around VND4 trillion (US$188,902,007) with a tablet worth VND 3,000,000. However, newspapers in the city published that they discovered a similar tablet bought in Taiwan worth only VND900,000.

It has faced parents and the public's opposition. Accordingly the city authority asked the education department to urgently report the plan.

Vietnamese workers in Belarus struggle to survive

Nearly 100 Vietnamese people currently working in Belarus are in dire straits because of non-payment.

Getting bank loans of nearly VND100 million to pay for a chance to work in Belarus, many out of the 98 Vietnamese people recorded as working in Belarus are now suffering from starvation, instead of the lifestyle-changing experience they expected. Some have even been reduced to homelessness and begging for food.

These workers have signed contracts to work in Belarus with IDC JSC and INMASCO Company, both of which are headquartered in Hanoi. Due to their desperate lives in Belarus, these workers have asked for help through media and social networks, including Lao Dong and Doi Song newspapers.

Vo Van Tam, from central Ha Tinh Province, said, “We’ve signed a three-year labour contract with IDC and INMASCO with a promised monthly payment of USD500 per monh. I had to pay a total of nearly VND100 million for INMASCO, so I had to use our family’s house as collateral. ”

Other Vietnamese nationals were compelled to take out loans to pay for these fees, but the services offered were very disappointing to them after being promised so much. Frequently, the contracts they were under required them to take on harder labour.

“While we’re all under clear work contracts, some people had to go to work as cleaners at construction sites and work overtime for low pay. Even though they promised to pay us USD500 per month, we received only USD350 for March. We still haven't been paid for April, May and June,” said Nguyen Van Dieu, from Ha Tinh Province.

Another worker, Tam, said he had to work for 12 hours a day instead of the eight hours she had agreed to. His payment was cut to between USD300 and USD400 per month because he did not work overtime.

Because of these problems, eight workers have been sent back to Vietnam, while some of the remaining 90 have had to take out loans in order to cover the cost of daily living.

“When we ask the company for basic payment, they actually hired gangsters to force us to continue to work. The situation is only getting worse. When we’re ill we still have to work. In April, one worker from Ha Tinh Province died because she was sick and die not receive proper medical care," said a worker named Vinh.

Some members of the group have called upon the Vietnamese embassy for help. The embassy, however, stated that they were unable to provide support, forcing some into homelessness and destitution.

In August a representative from INMASCO traveled to Belarus to sort out some of the conflict between employers and workers. The workers were given two options: either return home, or the company would help to collect payment. Since many have gone under what they see as false pretenses, there is not a lot of trust in the company among Vietnamese workers.

Tran Quang Toan, from INMASCO, admitted that the situation was not ideal, saying that they are trying to demand payment from the employers in Belarus, but only expect an answer after September 30.

Graduates fall into Japanese labour export trap

Many new graduates from Vietnam have become victims of labour export companies, believing promises of careers in Japan.

Taking advantage of the government’s policy to send graduates to Japan for work, a number of individuals and organisations have begun to use various methods to cheat fresh graduates.  

Hao, of  Bac Giang Province, just received a degree from Thai Nguyen Medical University. She said that she almost took up an offer to pay USD5,500 and hand over her original degree to a company in Haiphong to register to work as a nurse in Japan, but she felt something was not quite right. After calling a relative, she learned that programme to send Vietnamese students and recent graduates was sponsored the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (Molisa), but it did not require participants to turn over their original degrees.

Many people have sent petitions denouncing the similar fraudulent cases. There are a number of organizations that take advantage of students and recent graduates in this way, however they are difficult to get a hold of, as their "hotlines" are often not active.

Recently, Molisa announced a programme to recruit labourers from 19 cities and provinces for technical training in Japan. After the announcement, many brokers seem to have intervened just in order to cheat labourers. Many people have spent hundreds of millions of VND to brokers who broke their promises. Most have yet to be refunded.

Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, head of the Overseas Labourers Management Department under the Molisa, said that only the centre is allowed to recruit labourers for this particular programme.

Each city and province is permitted to invite 80 individuals. Then they will have join a training programme in Vietnam before being selected for the three-year programme in Japan.

Each labourer should be provided with an annual subsidy of around 90,000 JPY for the first and second year, and 100,000 JPY for the third year.

Resettlement project to save ethnic minorities remains stagnant

Even though a resettlement project to save an ethnic minority group in the central province of Nghe An was launched eight years ago, it has remains almost at a standstill.

The project got the prime minister’s approval and was aimed at moving hundreds of ethnic minority households living at Bung and Khe Con villages in Con Cuong District to resettlement areas in Thach Ngan commune between 2007 and 2009.

However, only 42 households have been taken to the new resettlement area by now, while the rest, more than 150 households, continue living in the forest.

Construction on resettlement area No. 2 in Thach Ngan was started in January, 2011, and was meant to accommodate 35 households. But, there is still nobody living there, leaving more than 30 houses on stilts abandoned. The area’s infrastructure, including a culture house, school, clean water supply system, power generation station are being overtaken by plant life.

Tran Anh Tuan, head of Resettlement Project Management of Con Cuong District, said the sluggish pace of construction is due to a number of reasons, such as the lack of capital and substandard planning.

For many years, resettlement area No. 3 in Thach Ngan District has remained an unused plot of land.

According to a report from Con Cuong District People’s Committee, as of August 2014, a total of VND72 billion (USD2.4 million) has been disbursed for the resettlement projects in the locality. But after the eight-year project, only resettlement area No. 1 has been put into use.

The Dan Lai ethnic minority group is very isolated from the modern world and has suffered from poverty for many years. One of the more serious problems facing the community is intermarriage.

To aid this group the prime minister approved a decision with a total capital of VND93.24 billion in 2006. However, it has yet to make much progress.

“When the Dan Lai people gather in Pu Mat National Park they hunt animals and destroy forestland for living space. This will ultimately have a bad impact on attempts at preservation of the national park,” Tran Xuan Cuong, deputy director of Pu Mat National Park said.

The Dai Lai people also have the custom of sleeping sitting up. According to some sources, there are around 3,000 Dai Lai people.

HCM City to suspend three poor-performing bus routes

Three non-subsidized bus routes in HCMC will be suspended early this week due to poor operations.

They are Cho Lon Bus Station-Binh Chanh District (route No. 92), Cho Lon Bus Station-Binh Dien Wholesale Market (route No. 105) and Hung Long Market-Binh Dien Wholesale Market (route No. 106), according to the HCMC Passenger Transport Management Center under the Department of Transport.

The center said it is rearranging the city’s bus routes to make them more efficient. Four other bus routes – An Thoi Dong-Tam Thon Hiep (route No. 63), Ly Nhon-An Nghia (route No. 125), Cho Lon Bus Station-Binh Hung Hoa (route No. 143) and District 8 Bus Station-An Suong Bus Station (route No. 111) have also been suspended due to inefficiency.

The city had over 2,800 commuter buses with 110 of them subsidized by the city government and they met a mere 10.7% of commuter demand last year, according to the center’s statistics.

Commuter bus subsidies steadily mounted, from nearly VND1.36 trillion in 2011 to VND1.47 trillion in 2013.

The city expects 650 million commuters to travel by bus this year. It will invest in a fleet of 1,680 new buses to replace old ones by 2017 with 300 fueled by locally-made compressed natural gas (CNG).

Online schooling program presented

The Internet School of Saigon Joint Stock Company on Wednesday launched an online schooling program featuring eight subjects at high school level for those wishing to study online.

The Internet School of Saigon (ISS) is part of a project to digitalize lectures of high school level prescribed by the Ministry of Education and Training.

Le Thanh Hung, chairman of the company, said this program has 800 online lectures for eight subjects: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, literature, history, geography and English from grade 10 to 12.

Learners can sign up at www.iss.edu.vn and start to learn through computers or mobile gadgets such as tablets or smartphones. In addition, students can use their social network accounts on Facebook, Google Plus or Yahoo to log in ISS.

Nguyen Bac Dung, former headmaster of Tran Dai Nghia High School, along with other experienced teachers from HCMC schools for the gifted, is in charge of content for this online education program.

Parents can register to study with their children following online tutorials.

According to ISS, the online teaching system allows 20,000 users to access the site at a time, and the firm keeps working to expand it.

Current tuition fees applied for grade 10-12 is VND50,000 per subject for a semester within one year. The ISS will offer preferential fees for students who sign up for multiple courses at once. Discount rates are just half the normal levels depending on specific cases.