Mekong Delta to create work for 400,000

Mekong Delta provinces plan to create jobs for around 400,000 workers this year, an increase of 100,000 people from last year, according to the Southwest Steering Committee.

In order to fulfil the target, the provinces will change the labour structure towards non-agricultural sectors.

In a bid to create more jobs, small-and medium-sized businesses, trade villages and cooperatives will be given priority in accessing loans, while disadvantaged groups of labourers will receive more assistance in vocational training and in seeking employment.

The provinces will work to improve the quality of vocational training to meet the labour market's demands.

Sending workers abroad after giving them careful training in both professional skills and working disciplines will offer an alternative solution. These people would receive further assistance in finding jobs after completing their contracts overseas.

According to the Southwest Steering Committee, the Mekong Delta region comprises 14.6 per cent of the country's total vocational training centres.

The region is home to a population of over 17.3 million people – approximately 19.7 per cent of the whole country's figure, encompassing 13 cities and provinces, according to the General Statistics Office.

The committee said, however, that the quality of vocational training in the region is limited, while workers' skills are not high enough to meet the labour market's demand.

Up to 70 per cent of the local labour force has not received any vocational training, while the rate of unemployment and under-employment in the region sits at more than 20 per cent.

For 2013, the Southwest Steering Committee has set a plan to achieve a GDP growth of 10-11 per cent, increase the income per person to VND37 million (US$1,800) per year and raise the total number of workers that receive training to 43 per cent.

The region's income per person per year reached VND32.3 million last year, an increase of VND5.3 million against 2011's figure.

The economic restructuring process in the region is reportedly slow, with agriculture currently making up over 38 per cent, industry nearly 26 per cent, and trades and services nearly 36 per cent.

Vietnam to make anti-measles and rubella vaccines

A state-owned Vietnamese pharmaceutical company is preparing to produce anti-measles and anti-rubella vaccines from May this year.

The Center for Research and Production of Vaccines (POLYVAC), under the Ministry of Health, will coordinate with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a five-year project to produce anti-measles and anti-rubella vaccines at an investment cost of US$7.51 million.

JICA experts will transfer technology and provide training to Vietnamese staff on vaccine manufacturing technology in Japan. JICA will also give financial assistance to POLYVAC to build a manufacturing plant for the vaccine, and continue supplying equipment to the Center for future projects.

By 2017, it is hoped that the country will have full grasp of the vaccine making technology and by 2018 the vaccine will be available in the market and become part of the National Extended Program for Immunization.

The domestic production of these vaccines is in response to the country’s need and aim to reduce reliance on foreign made vaccines and at being self-sufficient in combating diseases.

HCM City launches first ‘Made-in-Vietnam’ CNG bus

Saigon Transportation Mechanical Corporation (Samco) on April 18 introduced the first domestically assembled bus using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in Ho Chi Minh City.
HCMC has about 30 imported CNG buses running at present (Photo: SGGP)

Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of the City Department of Transport, said that CNG buses will help save 20-25 percent of fuel costs compared to buses run on petrol.

Exhaust fumes from CNG buses do not contain toxics that pollute the environment.

The Transport Department has asked Samco to produce another 300 such CNG buses by April next year to serve the public transport system in HCMC.

The department proposes to ask the City to exempt import tariff on chassis parts and permit bus companies to retain part profits from the running of these busses.

HCMC will work with Vietnam Oil and Gas Group to install more CNG supply stations in the City.

The City has about 30 CNG buses running at present, but these are imported.

Ha Nam to have safe routes to school

The northern province of Ha Nam will become the first locality nationwide to have safe routes to school under a project funded by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP).
The project, launched in Ha Nam on April 18, is designed to improve safety for children travelling to and from school, but generally also provides benefits for a range of vulnerable road users.

It covers the installation of appropriate and low-cost local traffic engineering improvements, road safety education for children, parents and the local community and the enforcement of helmet wearing, parking restrictions around the school and targeting speeding drivers.

Three schools in Ha Nam will pilot the project, including Dong Van elementary school in Dong Van town, Duy Tien district, Thanh Huong elementary school and Thanh Huong junior high school in Thanh Liem district.

The project, to go on until July 2014, will then be replicated across the country.

Earlier, similar projects have been successfully deployed in other Southeast Asian countries and Africa.

Hanoi’s transport planning reveals gross incompetence

Hanoi has had to destroy some bridges costing billions of VND to build new ones, evidence of the poor quality of the city’s transport development planning.

The overpass on Lang Ha Street put into operation for just one year will be upgraded

More than three years ago, Hanoi spent VND234 billion (USD11.14 million) to build 18 pedestrian bridges at important traffic spots to ease traffic jams and accidents. However, many of these were located in unsuitable locations; remaining largely unused. Some bridges have been ever turned into a temporary dumping ground and a place for drug users.

To deal with the traffic congestion at Dai Co Viet-Tran Khat Chan junction, in early February this year, Hanoi started building a 350-metre overpass. As a result, the pedestrian bridge costing more than VND10 billion has been removed for the overpass which will cost up to VND180 billion (USD8.57 million).

Hanoi has already begun construction a new overpass with four lanes at Nguyen Chi Thanh-Lieu Giai. Therefore, a pedestrian bridge on Nguyen Chi Thanh Street could be moved another 100m from its current position.

The city will invest more than VND10 billion (USD476,190) to upgrade an overpass at Lang Ha-Thai Ha intersection to serve over 30 express bus routes although the overpass has only been operation for just a year.

Speaking with DTiNews reporter, Le Van Thinh, chief of the National Agency for Construction Work’s Quality Assessment, said, “It’s important to make savings in the context of the current economic difficulties, yet Hanoi has wasted so much money on transport infrastructure due to the lack of long-term vision.”

According to Mr. Thinh, Hanoi’s transport planning lacked an overview in terms of general socio-economic planning. He urged the municipal Department of Transport to rapidly improve the city’s transport planning.

Dr. Pham Si Liem, vice chairman of Vietnam Construction Association, said a lack of attention to detail that had led to the construction of so many unsuitable transport works.

Hanoi's 'back to bicycle' movement meets opposition

The Department of Industry and Trade has proposed bicycles as a means to ease traffic and carbon emissions, but the move has met opposition from a number of experts.

The department said that many large cities around the world have been turning to bicycles to ease traffic congestion and pollution. But some experts have been saying that such a plan is not suitable for Hanoi, whose residents prefer other means of transport.

“We should really learn from the experience of other cities such as Amsterdam, which has been rated the cleanest city in the world, and also has the largest per capita number of bicycle users. Hanoi should also take a look at London, which invested USD1.37 in a bicycle-only road. This type of move has the potential to not only cut down on traffic, but also the use of fossil fuels," the department stated.

However several experts in urban planning have a different point of view. Doan Minh Tam, Director of the Transportation Science and Technology under the Ministry of Transport, said the proposal was short-sighted and too "rudimentary" for a modern city.

Tam added that if bicycles were to replace motorbikes and cars, it would render large infrastructure projects such as motorways useless."

Some others worries that an increase in bicycle use could create more traffic accidents.

One expert who would not give his name said that the repopularisation of bicycles could do damage because they would be on the same motorways as cars and motorbikes. Because of their slower speeds, he said, they could actually cause more traffic jams.

The debate has continued, as several other transport experts have agreed on the usefulness of bicycles for the city.

HCM City parents attempt to select best schools

Many parents in big cities have been racing to send their children to prestigious schools.

In HCM City, parents are paying great attention to famous primary schools such as Nguyen Binh Khiem, Le Ngoc Han, Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoang Dieu and Luong The Vinh.

Besides the quality of the teachers other factors such as the condition of the school and extracurricular activities are influencing parents on their decisions.

The HCM City People’s Committee has banned primary schools to receive students who do not have permanent residence in the locality where the schools are located, but many students are still accepted.

Vo Ngoc Thu, head of District 5’s Department of Education and Training, said the department had detected a prestigious school taking many students who had legally gained permanent residence registration at the same time.

After the inspection, it turned out to be that these students had their permanent residence moved to the locality for the purpose of attending the school.

Besides the permanent residence change, many parents voluntarily sponsor schools so that they can have their children admitted, according to Mrs. Thu.

To deal with the situation, this district will work with enrollment steering boards of wards to tighten control over permanent residency options. Permanent residence must be registered before January, 2013. Additionally, people who register permanent residence must be blood-relations with the owner of the house.

Dr. Le Ngoc Diep, head of the Primary Education Division under the HCM City Department of Education and Training, said families often has from one to two children, therefore, they want to invest more for them, particularly learning. Therefore, sending their children to a good school is a legitimate demand. However, he added that the quality of primary teachers in HCM City is relatively equal. Schools with fewer students mean pupils receive greater attention.

Dinh Thien Can, head of District 1’s Department of Education and Training said, not all prestigious school teachers are better. He added that for example qualified teacher contests at District 1 showed that all teachers who won prizes were from schools which are not famous.

Dr. Nguyen Kim Dung, deputy head of the Education Research Institute at Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogics, said the quality of public schools was not necessarily the same; therefore, parents were keen to select a good school for their children. To solve the problem, it was essential to improve weak schools. If the situation is not improved, school heads should be changed.

Requiem held for fallen soldiers in Quang Tri

A grand requiem to national pray for people’s peace and prosperity was held in Quang Tri town in the central province of the same name on April 19.

The event was also to commemorate tens of thousands of soldiers who laid down their lives in battlefields in the Quang Tri Ancient Citadel and along Thach Han river.

The ceremony saw the participation of Most Venerable Thich Tien Dat, permanent member of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha Central Committee’s Executive Council and over 3,000 monks, nuns and Buddhist followers across the country.

On this occasion, the organising board presented more than 100 gifts to families of social beneficiaries and poor students with outstanding academic achievements.

Earlier, on September 18, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha released 10,000 floating lanterns on Thach Han river to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers.

The citadel, built in 1824, was strongly defended by Vietnamese soldiers in the war against the US imperialists in 1972.

For 81 days and nights from June 29, the soldiers tried their best to protect it from bombardment.

It has since been listed as a national historical site.

VN, Russia mull establishing Technology University

Deputy PM Nguyen Thien Nhan on Thursday had working session with the visiting delegation of Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science to discuss orientations for cooperation between the two countries.

Improving the quality of human resources is among Viet Nam's current top priorities
The move aims to prepare for the upcoming visit of PM Nguyen Tan Dung to Russia, scheduled in May this year.

At the session, both sides agreed they will sign an inter-governmental agreement to establish Viet Nam-Russia Technology University and step up cooperation in culture and transport research.

The University will be the symbol of the bilateral relations and reflect the political determination of the two Governments, Deputy PM Nhan said.

The two countries also agreed to elevate cooperation in education and training to strategic level. 

Ministry moves to help the disabled

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) is incorporating vocational training for disabled people into national target programmes on employment.

This was revealed by Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam at a ceremony on Wednesday to honour disabled employees and businesses employing them.

The move is intended to provide stronger support for them, he added.

Dam said his ministry was making the existing vocational training mechanism more flexible. He said it would use closer co-operation with domestic and foreign businesses to improve training and job opportunities.

At the event, the ministry praised the US Government, the Viet Nam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH), and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) for their initiatives in generating work.

VCCI Deputy Chairman Pham Gia Tuc said that since September 2007, the chamber had co-ordinated with VNAH and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish the Blue Ribbon Employer Council (BREC), which provided technical assistance for employers who recruited those with disabilities.

From an initial 25 businesses and organisations in and outside the country, the BREC has now 160 members providing stable jobs for 2,000 disabled people nationwide.

Yesterday, on the Viet Nam Day for People with Disabilities, the central province of Binh Dinh, home to more than 32,000 disabled people and orphans, praised households that had surmounted difficulties to better their lives.

Meanwhile, disabled children in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum have a chance to play games and speak out their dreams at a two-day festival, which started on Wednesday.

A wide range of activities also took place in central Da Nang city on Tuesday to help the disabled integrate deeper into society.

Transfers may help hospital crowding

Reducing hospital overcrowding, tightening hospital transfers and managing health insurance funds were among the topics discussed at a question-and-answer session of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien admitted that hospital transfers were believed to be the biggest cause for hospital overcrowding and overspending of health insurance funds.

Statistics from the ministry show that around 60 per cent of patients came to be examined and treated in central hospitals, she said.

Lack of faith in examination treatment quality at local hospitals was blamed for the situation, she said.

Deputy Le Van Lai did not agree with the ministry's solution to reduce central-level hospital overcrowding by transferring recovering patients to satellite hospitals.

What would be if health problems occurred in the recovery stage? Lai asked. Only when satellite hospital treatment standards were raised would overcrowding at central hospitals be reduced.

Tien said facilities would be improved at satellite hospitals and their doctors would be trained to operate equipment for the examination and treatment of local patients.

Women who had cesareans, for example, were transferred to local-level hospitals for rest and treatment after delivery, she said. If they stayed in central-level hospitals, they had to share a bed with 3-4 others.

To reduce hospital transfers, the ministry plans to operate a family doctor programme for healthcare centre in communes, she said.

Doctors working at commune-level healthcare centres would participate in family-doctor training courses, she said.

The family doctors would provide first-aid for patients who would only be transferred to central hospitals if they were diagnosed with serious illnesses, she said.

The ministry officially started training family doctors in 2008. Now over 570 family doctors have graduated, most of them are working at grass-roots heath centres.

In response to deputies' question on the examination and treatment for people aged 75 and over, Tien said the ministry would order hospitals to set up new areas and install equipment for them.

The ratio of hospital beds in Viet Nam is now 21.1 per 10,000 people.

Delta hospitals get medical equipment for neonatal care

The Cai Lay General Hospital in Tien Giang Province and Can Giuoc General Hospital in Long An Province on Wednesday received medical aids for neonatal care.

The donations were made by East Meets West Foundation in co-operation with insurance firm Prudential. They were part of the Breath of Life 2013 Project carried out since March 6 at general hospitals in the Mekong Delta

The equipment package given to each hospital included a CPAP machine to treat babies suffering from respiratory distress, an LED phototherapy machine to treat jaundice and an infant warmer to help regulate the body temperature of premature babies, a light meter, a pulse oximeter, a two-year supply of alcohol gel and other neonatal medical supplies.

By strengthening neonatal care in these hospitals, the project hopes to reduce mortality among newborn and premature babies in these provinces as well as facilitate the transfer of sick babies to hospitals in HCM City and Can Tho City.

Dr Nguyen Van Nguu, head of Cai Lay General Hospital, said nearly 6,500 births take place in the hospital every year and among the newborn, 50 per cent are diagnosed with jaundice, 16 per cent have respiratory distress and 34 per cent of them are premature babies.

The biggest difficulty in treating the newborns was the lack of medical equipment, he said.

With the donated equipment and advanced training provided, the hospital can successfully handle serious cases of illness among newborn and premature babies, he added.

"The medical equipment and advanced training will enable us to provide timely, effective treatment to newborn patients in our hospital," said Dr Nguyen Van Bay, head of the Can Giuoc General Hospital.

Similar handover ceremonies at the Sa Dec General Hospital in Dong Thap Province and General Hospital in An Giang Province will be held on April 24.

Residents granted passes to park

The Central Highlands Dak Lak Province's Yok Don National Park will soon grant pass cards to certain local residents, allowing them to conduct production and cultivation activities in the park.

The card indicates clearly rights and responsibilities of the card holders when entering the park with the card holder's name and photo attached.

Around 1,000 residents in the Buon Don District's Krong Na Commune will be granted the card. The move aims to preventing illegal exploitation of forest products in the national park.

Tickets run out for May Day holiday run

Tickets for soft sleepers on trains for the two upcoming national holidays have already sold out and only hard seats are now available, according to the Ha Noi Railway Station.

The affected tickets are those which are for southbound travel from April 26-27 and come back on Liberation Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1).

The amount of passengers traveling in the holidays is estimated to be around 30,000, three times higher than usual.

The company plans to add more cars in order to meet the increasing travel demand during the vacation.

Unauthorised poultry eggs found in Quang Tri

Nearly 23,000 eggs from many types of poultry have been seized in central Quang Tri Province's Vinh Linh District as they did not have a certificate of origin, local police announced yesterday.

The products were discovered in a car running through Ho Xa Commune and the driver confessed to transporting the eggs north for sale.-

Hotlines to report workplace violations

Civil servants in central Thanh Hoa Province found to be violating working regulations can be reported through two newly-set up hotlines.

Reports can be sent via mobile number 0912395039 or desk phone (037)3853079.

The measure is aimed at improving the working effectiveness and attitude of local government employees.

Man arrested for smuggling drugs

Traffic police in northern Bac Giang Province's Tan Yen District discovered a man illegally transporting 140 cakes of drugs and 180 synthetic drug pills after stopping him for breaking the speed limit.

The drugs were hidden in a carton box in the car. Police also confiscated VND85 million (US$4,000), two knives, four mobile phones and a tablet.

The suspect, Le Quang Dong, 42, admitted illegally smuggling the drugs. The investigation is underway.-

Binh Dinh relocates residents from natural disaster-prone areas

The central coastal province of Binh Dinh plans to invest nearly VND640 billion (US$30.4 million) in resettling more than 9,500 households in natural disaster-prone areas in the region from 2013-2020.

Of the investment capital, over VND474 billion ($22.5 million) will be sourced from the State budget while the remaining will be mobilised from the provincial budget.

The province has so far carried out 14 projects to relocate more than 1,625 households in flood- and landslide-prone areas with 6,500 people moved to safer resettlement areas.-

Cuba, Vietnam boost educational cooperation

Vietnam and Cuba have signed a cooperation agreement on academic exchanges between their tertiary education establishments.

The signatories to the document were Vietnamese Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan and the Cuban Minister of Higher Education, Rodolfo Alarcon, during Luan’s visit to Cuba on April 16-20.

During their talks, the two ministers compared notes on the development of the educational systems in the two countries and introduced plans to improve the quality of education and training to meet the increasing demands in the new period.

Minister Luan thanked Cuba for helping train thousands of Vietnamese experts and engineers over the past decades, while sharing Vietnam’s educational experience during its Doi Moi (Renewal) process and outlining its educational development targets in the years to come.

Cuban has always given top priority to education for the past half century. It has reformed its educational system based on the sixth Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) congress resolution and focused on improving the quality of learning and teaching in junior colleges and higher education systems across the country, Alarcon said.

Both sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations according to the agreement, particularly in training human resources and scientific research.

During his visit, Minister Luan worked with his Cuban counterpart Ena Elsa Hermandez to share experiences and information about education for people with disabilities. He also visited Vietnamese students in Cuba and talked with leaders and teachers from universities and training centres in Havana.

UNDP supports Vietnam’s greenhouse gas emissions cut

A project to increase Vietnamese industries' capacity to control greenhouse gas emissions and their ability to adapt to climate change was launched on April 17.

The US$3.05 million project funded by UNDP, which will end in 2016, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in industrial production and create trading opportunities for Vietnamese companies in the "green" field.

It comprises of three sub-projects, one of which is to analyse policies and factors that have influenced greenhouse gas emissions in production and consumption as well as recommend suitable technical solutions to the matter.

The project also aims to improve policymakers' awareness of climate change and support links to industrial businesses, financial institutions and service providers to boost investment in sustainable industrial production.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang said that in the past, the Vietnamese Government had many programmes aiming to adapt, control and minimise the impact of climate change.

In the National Strategy of Green Growth, Vietnam has targeted a reduction of 8-10 percent in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared to 2010, he said.

US war vets visit Vietnam

A delegation of Veterans For Peace (VFP) organisation of the US is paying a visit to Vietnam from April 18 to May 2 as guests of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO).

At a reception given to the VFP delegate in Hanoi on April 18, Chairman of the Vietnam-US Friendship Association Nguyen Tam Chien spoke highly of the VFP’s activities in support of Vietnam, particularly its assistance for delegations of Vietnamese Agent Orange /dioxin victims during their trips to the US.

Chien briefed his guests on the role that VUFO and his organization play in promoting the friendship between the Vietnamese people and other nations, including the US people.

He affirmed that his organization hopes to continue its cooperation with the VFP, and pledged to support the operation of the VFP’s branch in Vietnam, particularly in humanitarian activities.

During the visit from April 18 to May 2, the VFP delegation is scheduled to visit AO victims’ families and care centres.

They will also hold working sessions with Associations of AO Victims in Hanoi, Danang city, and Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri provinces.

German organization boosts cooperation with Vietnam

A framework agreement was signed in Hanoi on April 18 to acknowledge Germany’s Friedrich Elbert Stiftung (FES)’s assistance for Vietnam and boost cooperation between the two sides.

The agreement was signed by President of the Vietnam Unions of Friendship Associations (VUFO) Vu Xuan Hong and FES Representative in Vietnam Erwin Schweisshelm.

As one of the first foreign organisations to open a representative office in Vietnam, FES office made its debut on October 4, 1990 in accordance to a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Vietnamese government.

Over the years, FES has positively taken part in supporting Vietnam’s Renewal process and administration reforms as well as its open-door policy.

It has also helped improve capacity for Vietnamese public servants.

FES has built strong ties with various Vietnamese agencies and served as a bridge linking Nordrhein-Westfalen state of Germany with the Ministry of Justice and the Central Institute for Economic Management, as well as the Hamburg state and Bac Giang province.

FES is the first foreign non-governmental organisation to sign such agreement with Vietnam under the government’s new decree on the registration and operation of foreign NGOs in Vietnam, which was adopted in 2012.

Kid patients receive South African gifts

Representatives from the Consulate General of South African in Ho Chi Minh City visited and presented gifts to kids under treatment at the Children’s Hospital 2 on April 18.

The visit was made on the occasion of South Africa’s 19th National Day anniversary.

Over 200 gifts were delivered to children who are receiving treatment against kidney diseases and tumours.

The Honorary Consul to HCM City Do Thi Kim Lien said this year the Consulate decided to donate money to needy people in community instead of giving a reception as in previous years.

Denmark, Vietnam enhance scientific research cooperation

An annual meeting discussing the pilot scientific research cooperation program between Vietnam and Denmark was held in Hanoi on April 18.

In his speech, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Viet Thanh expressed his optimism regarding the cooperation program and acknowledged the significant scientific and technological support Denmark has extended to Vietnam.

The cooperation program has captured the attention of Vietnamese scientists currently grappling with some of the most pressing national issues. Climate change is a major focus.

Danish Ambassador to Vietnam John Nielsen stated his country is keen to expand cooperative relations with Vietnam across a variety of fields but especially in science and technology.

He outlined how new collaboration programmes will concentrate on green growth and emerging alternative energy—two developing technologies in which Denmark has seen success that Vietnam could learn from. .

The participants also reviewed the progress of five cooperation projects running over 2009–2011, updated science and technology policy information, and devised orientations for future research cooperation.